John Armstrong was a Republican, and he didn't agree with Mr. Miller; but my pa says, "We'll elect Cleveland this fall and then we'll save the country."
My pa and Mr. Miller was both Democrats, but John was a Republican and they had the best of him, bein' two to one. But John says, "Why, they tell me that Cleveland wears a 6-7/8 hat and a eighteen collar and can drink more whisky than Joe Pink."
"Well," says my pa, "if you elect Harrison, who'll be President—will he be President or will Blaine? It will be Blaine, and why didn't you nominate him and be done with it? It's because you dassent"—Then he began to sing:
"In Washington City, oh, what a great pity, There'll be no Harrison there."
Then we kind of changed seats around and Mr. Miller and my pa began to talk together, while John was talkin' to Mitch and me, and pointin' out the places of interest along the way. "Over thar," he says, "is whar Slicky Bill Wilson used to live." "Thar's the Widow Watkins' farm." "Right down thar is whar they held a camp meetin' onct and converted more'n 80." And pretty soon we went over a bridge over a clear blue stream, and John says: "That's Salt Creek, and just down thar about a mile old Tom Giles used to live who raised quarter horses," and so on.
Then I heard Mr. Miller tell my pa that he was goin' to lose his church for preachin' that sermon about God bein' in everything; that he was sure of it. And he didn't know what to do. He couldn't teach school and walk into the country, and he couldn't get a school to teach in town. And he was worried and said with a big family like he had on his hands, he was worried to death. That his father had had a big family and was poor and worried too, and that he could see his own children poor and havin' big families. And it looked just like the same story over and over, world without end.
By and by we got to Kilburn and the engine broke down or somethin' and we waited and waited. The conductor came in and said we'd better eat here, because he didn't know when we'd get started. So we all got off and went into the station where Mrs. Ruddy, the wife of the ticket agent, had a restaurant. She looked like a hen in the early morning. Her eyes were so quick and bright, and she kept goin' around askin' us to have things. There was a jar of jelly on the table all sealed up, and she said, "Won't you have some of the jell?" Mr. Miller said, "No, thank you." But Mitch took up the jar and tried to get the top off. It would have took a monkey wrench to get it off; so after tuggin' at it and not bein' able to budge it, he put it down. Just then she came up and said, "Do have some of the jell." Mitch began to laugh. Then pa took the jar and he couldn't get the top off either, and he put it down. She came back again and said, "Won't you have some of the jell, Mr. Armstrong?" "I don't mind if I do," says John, and he took hold of the jar. Findin' the top on, he tried to get it off. Then Mrs. Ruddy says, "Oh, the top ain't off." I believe she knew it all the time. The remark sounded just like a woman. So she went into the kitchen for an opener and came back and said she couldn't find none. Then she took the jar and got her apron about it and screwed up her face and tried her best. But the top wouldn't budge. Mitch picked up the poker by the stove and says, "Hit it with this, Mrs. Ruddy." And she says, "I'll break the jar. Just wait, I'll set it in some hot water for a bit and then it'll come off." So she disappeared with the jar. And while she was gone the conductor came in and yelled, "All aboard." And pa laid down some money and we ran for the train. Just as we was all on the platform and the train begin to move, Mrs. Ruddy came to the station door and said somethin'. John began to snicker and laugh, and says to pa, "Did you hear what she said—by God, she says it's off—let's go back and have some jell."
This time when we got to Havaner we rode in the bus, Mitch with the driver in front; and we rode pretty near down to the river's edge. And there was the City of Peoria, all steamed up, smoke comin' out of her stacks, and ready to go. We got on and there was Colonel Lambkin, talking to the captain and the same fat man. And when the Colonel see my pa, he smiled all over his face and got up and came over and shook his hand, and put his arm around him and says, "You look a little peaked, Hardy. We'll give you some rations that'll fatten you up. Whar's your fiddle?" he says to John. John hadn't brought it; but by and by an orchestra came on board, a man with a guitar and another with a fiddle, and so we had music all the way. Colonel Lambkin seemed to just own the boat. We steamed off after a bit and it was moonlight, and Mitch and me sat on deck and watched the river, and the shores and everything we could see. By and by Mitch said: "Do you remember when we were here and lay on top of that shed and I told you about losin' Zueline, and that there was somethin' else in my mind?"
"Yes," says I.
"Well," says Mitch, "you know what it was now, don't you?"
"I think so," says I.
"Of course it was that Rainey murder and findin' that pistol. And I'd like to ask you, Skeet, if you think I dreamed that."
"No," says I.
"Well," says Mitch, "that lawyer did twist me around and he did make a wonderful speech agin me. It sounded like the characters in Shakespeare where one says something and you think that ends it; and then the other says something and it has a different look altogether and seems truer than what the other one said. But I hope to drop dead this minute, Skeet, and fall into the river and be et by the fish if every word I said ain't as true as the gospel."
"I know it," says I. And Mitchie says: "I wanted to tell you that night what was on my mind; but somehow I couldn't."
Just then we became aware of voices near us, around a kind of corner. And one voice was a woman's and another was a man's who was talkin' kind of thick and kept repeatin' hisself. And Mitch says, "Wait—listen." So we listened. And this man's voice said:
"What can I do, Gwen? I'll leave it to you. Ain't I done the right thing? Have I harmed any one? But I might have, I know myself, and I might have harmed some one as easy as that. I know what's what, and even now I do, and when I have no drinks, I know better, and you'll see I done the right thing. Why look at it—they rush on me there in all that hurry and scare and say go out where it is—where his pistol is—right by the side of the porch and you or some of you pick it up and bring it back in the house. What did that mean? It meant some one knew where the pistol was before anybody seen it—and you can't make me believe that kind of a story would wash."
Then the woman said, "It did wash."
"It washed because they didn't have me there and try to fetch in this story. I couldn't a stood cross-questioning a minute. That's why I say I know what I can do."
Then the woman says: "He's goin' to be tried again and you'd better go back and be a man. Mrs. Rainey died and it's time Temple Scott was dead too."
"Listen," says Mitch, "did you hear that—that's Harold Carman. Come."
We got up and walked past 'em—there he was huddled close to a woman, the moon almost shining in their faces. We heard the orchestra and went around and found Colonel Lambkin dancing and everybody havin' a wonderful time. My pa sat there so big and powerful and I was proud to death of him.
Well, we had wonderful sleeps on board and we all sat at the captain's table and had the most splendid meals—fish all the time if we wanted it; and beefsteak, and all kinds of pie and everything. Mitch and me went into the kitchen; but just to call and say "howdy" to Susie and the cook.
It was on a morning when we hove in sight of St. Louis. There she was stretched further than you could see, smoke all over her, rumblin', a scary looking monster, seemed alive, seemed full of all kinds of terrible things, but also awful beautiful, too. We got off the boat and there was two or three policemen there. My pa and Colonel Lambkin talked to 'em, and then just as Harold Carman came along, the policemen took him. He scolded and made a fuss at first, but finally went along. Of course we had told pa what we heard. But pa had seen him on the boat anyway. So they just shipped him by train back to Petersburg and jailed him—I think it was for forgin' a note, but anyway it was to testify.
We got over into town, and such a sight—sloughs of people, wagons, carriages, street cars; sloughs of niggers—an awful noise everywheres. Everybody in a hurry. And Mitch says: "Tom Sawyer lives near here, and yet he was never in this town, at least if he was he writes nothing about it. And look at us. We're here. I told you everything couldn't be the same with me and you as it was with Tom and Huck. But just look, Skeet. You could take Petersburg and set it down right here in this square and nobody could find it. Why, I'll bet you this town is five miles long, as far as from Petersburg to your grandpa's farm—just think, five miles of houses." Mitch was terribly excited. And you can't imagine how funny John Armstrong looked walkin' along in St. Louis. He seemed out of place and looked strange. But my pa and Colonel Lambkin was the same as the St. Louis people, and even Mitchie's pa in a general way.
Well, we went around different places, and finally we went to a hotel about a thousand times bigger than the hotel at Havaner. The office had gilt all over it and marble pillars and a dome of blue and red glass. It must have cost millions. When we went into the dining room John Armstrong looked shamed a little like a boy standin' up to recite. And we sat down at a table. Everybody said Colonel to Colonel Lambkin, and seemed to know him and was awful polite to him; and the waiters laughed at Mitch and me. And one of 'em stood by John and says: "Baked fish, corn beef and cabbage, brisket of beef, pork tenderloin, roast goose and turkey and cranberry sauce." John looked stunned like, and as if he couldn't remember what the waiter said, and the waiter stood there waitin' for John to speak, and finally John says, "Wal, bring me whatever's the handiest for you."
My pa broke into the biggest laugh I ever heard him and turned to the Colonel and said: "That story you told me keeps goin' through my mind." And the Colonel laughed and said, "Ain't that a good one?" By this time the waiter had repeated to John what they had and John said, "Wal, bring me the pork tenderloin," and so the rest of us had our orders in and pretty soon we had dinner and went out.
They took us to a ball game. You had to pay to get in. Nobody could look over or look through the fence. It was all different from what it was at home. And there was a pitcher there who looked like the pictures of Edgar Allan Poe, and he could throw a curve clear around the batter right into the catcher's hand. I saw him. And the score was three to nothin,' not 18 to 25 as I had seen it at home.
And in the evening there was a torchlight procession for Cleveland, and bands, and banners, and big pictures of Cleveland. "Look at him," said John, "can't you see he wears a 18 collar?"
"Yes," says pa, "but no 6-7/8 hat."
"Wal," says John, "they've fixed the picture up." So then we went to where a man made a speech. I forget his name, but he was a great man. And he talked for more'n an hour, and finally got down to the fall of Rome. And he says, "What made Rome fall? They tariff." And John says, "That ain't the way they tell it to me. They say Caesar made Rome fall. That's what I've always heard. And I don't believe it was the tariff. It couldn't be." So pa says, "Listen to him, John." But John was kind of restless and seemed to get a little mad. Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed. And the next night the Colonel took all of us to a minstrel show where they sang "Angel Gabriel." And the next morning we got on the boat and pulled out. For where do you suppose? Why, up the Mississippi. Yes, we saw her when we came in, but now we saw her for miles and miles—wonderful, more'n a mile wide. And Mitch could hardly speak, nor could I. And where do you suppose we was going? Why, to Hannibal, to Tom's town. After all our waitin', after trying to run away to see Tom Sawyer, here we was actually goin' there with our pas, and John Armstrong, and the Colonel.
It turned out this way. We got to Hannibal, and the Colonel stayed with the boat and John; and we said good-by and went over into town. The plan was for us to cross the river from Hannibal over to Illinois, and there take the Wabash train to Jacksonville and then home from there.
Mitch's pa began to make some inquiries and then we started for some place. And pretty soon I looked up and saw a big sign "Tom Sawyer." "Look, Mitch," says I. And he looked and stopped and our pas went on. This sign was over a butcher shop. And I said: "Can it be true, Mitch, that Tom Sawyer is keepin' a butcher shop? Is he old enough? And would he do it? Is it in his line? He's rich and gettin' higher and higher up in the world. What does this mean?"
We followed our pas into the shop. And Mr. Miller asked a boy, "Where's Mr. Sawyer?" And the boy says, "He's in the back room." Just then a door opened and a man came in, red-faced and plump and friendly. And Mitch's pa says: "Are you Tom Sawyer?" And the man says, "That's me." And Mitch's pa says: "I'm Mr. Miller from Petersburg and this is my boy Mitchie, who wrote to you. And this is Mr. Kirby and his boy." And Tom Sawyer laughed and says: "I hope I didn't make you any trouble. I kind a heard I did. But this letter came to me from your boy, and I showed it to the postmaster, and he laughed; and so I thought I'd have a little fun, and I had it answered. You don't mind, do you, Mitchie?" And he kind of put his hand on Mitchie's head. "Oh," says Mitch, "there might be two persons with the same names." Tom Sawyer laughed and said, "Not in this town—anyway I had that letter written you, Mitchie, and I'm sorry now, since you took it in earnest. I meant no harm. There never was any boy here of that name, and no Huckleberry Finn. It was all made up, even though it does sound real and boys believe it. How'd you like to have some bologna?" He gave both of us some. Then we talked a bit and left.
After that Mitch wasn't interested in anything. He didn't want to see the town; he just sat in front of the hotel, and our pas went around lookin' up the places where Mark Twain had been, and talkin' to folks who knew where Mark Twain got this character and the other for his book. And finally Mitch said to me: "I had a dream last night, and now I know what it means. I dreamed the engines on the trains wouldn't work any more, or wouldn't work very well, and they had to hitch horses to the engines to pull the trains. So everywhere you'd see an engine and a train and at the head of the engine a team of horses, pullin' it and the train. And it means that what was so beautiful and wonderful ain't true and won't work and after all, you're just where you were, back with horses, so to speak, and no engines; back in Petersburg, with all the wonder of Tom Sawyer gone forever." And Mitch began to cry. I didn't know what to say or to do. It was all true. There wasn't any Tom Sawyer; and this town—why we couldn't find a thing like it was in the book.
Pretty soon our pas came back and Mitch says, "When you goin' to leave?" "This afternoon," says my pa. Then Mitch says: "Let's go. I don't feel well. I want to go home."
Then Mr. Miller tried to comfort Mitch and tell him that life was full of disappointments; that everything that happens when you're a boy, happens over when you're a man, just like it, but hurts worse. And that people must dis-cip-line themselves to stand it, and make the most of life, and do for others, and love God and keep His commandments. Mitch didn't say nothin'. He just set quiet, every now and then brushin' a tear out of his eye.
When our pas had walked away, Mitch says: "Now you see the whole thing, Skeet. You've lost Tom as much as I have; but I've lost more'n you. I've lost Zueline. Both in the same summer. I don't know what I'm goin' to do. I want to go home."
And then Mitch said: "I'm mad at my pa. He ought not to brought me here. He ought not to have showed us that butcher. It's too much. He ought to have left us still believin' in the book."
We crossed the river and took the train. But the fun was over. Even our pas was quiet. Mitch fell asleep in his father's arms. I couldn't talk, somehow. The summer was fading, we could see that. We could hear the crickets in the grass whenever the train stopped. Sleep was falling on the earth. The fields were still and bare. No birds sang. And the train moved on. And we were going home; and to what? No more digging for treasure; no more belief in Tom Sawyer. School would commence soon. The end of the world seemed near. I myself wanted to die; for if Mitch and me had to keep goin' through this same thing until we was old like our pas, what was the use? We got back to Petersburg; and Mitch and his pa stepped off the train and started on before we got off. They stopped after a little bit and waited for us. Then they went on; and when we got to the square, they said good-by and started for home. And my pa went to his office and took me.
When we got there we found a man in the hall, walkin' up and down. He'd been there for three days waitin' for my pa. And so pa unlocked the office and went in. The man follered and sat down. He was an old, farmer-like feller, but it seemed he lived in a town down in Pike County. He'd come up to get Nancy Allen's money, the treasure Mitch and me had found. He said he was a third cousin of Nancy Allen's, and her only livin' relative. Well, the advertisement that pa had put in the paper for relatives had expired, and no one had turned up to claim the money but this man. His name was Joe Allen, and he had his proofs with him that he was Nancy Allen's third cousin. He said his wife was dead; that he had no children; that he did a little draying in his town; that he wanted to get a new wagon and a span of mules, cost about four hundred dollars; and this money came in awful handy for him. Then he looked around the room and saw pa's books. And he said that he never had much schoolin', that he wanted schoolin' and never had it; and that if he'd had it, he'd been a lawyer too, maybe, instead of running a dray. And then pa went over to the safe and got the money, for he hadn't turned it in to the treasury yet. He counted the money and left it on the table. And then the man was interested in how it was found. And pa told him and says: "This is one of the boys that found it; this is my boy. And the other boy is preacher Miller's boy, one of our best citizens," meaning Mr. Miller, of course, and not Mitch. "And they're poor, and Mitch is one of the most wonderful boys you ever saw—very smart and reads all kinds of books."
Then the man took the money and counted it and put it in his pocket. But my pa says, "We'll have to do a lot of things about papers and receipts and things before you can have the money." So the man took it out and put it on the table; and then he counted it again. And finally he separated it and handed part of it to my pa and says, "Count it." So pa did. And the man says, "Is that a thousand dollars? I don't reckon very well." "Yes," says pa. "It's a thousand dollars and ten dollars more." And the man took the ten-dollar bill and put it on the other pile.
"Here," says the man, "take this thousand dollars and take your fee out of it."
My pa says, "No—you don't owe me nothin'. The county pays me for my work, and it wouldn't be right, and you need it more than I do."
"Well," says the man, "what I meant was for you to take your fee out of it, and then split the difference between these two boys."
"No, you don't owe them nothing," says pa. My heart sank. I said "I—," and was about to say something, I don't know what; but pa waved at me to keep still and says, "This money is yours, and if you'll come with me, we'll attend to everything, and you can take it and go home."
Then the man said: "But you say one of these boys is poor and is smart. And I know what it is to be poor when you're a boy, even if you're not smart, as I warn't; and to want to get up in the world and not be able to, as I have. And I know what it is to feel it all your life, what you didn't have when a boy. And, as I said, I have no one in the world but myself, and I don't need nothin'; and after I buy this wagon and span of mules then I'll have more'n six hundred dollars to lend out. It's enough for me. It makes me well fixed, with my house, which I own. And here I have a good chance to do good to a couple of boys who found the money, and may use their sheer to make men of 'em—and you just take this $1,000 and if you don't want any of it, give it all to 'em."
Then he said, "Where is this boy, Mitch Miller? I'd like to see him. You say he's a smart boy." So my pa says, "Run up and get him." And I ran—ran all the way—breathless to tell Mitch that we had struck it at last. When I got to his house, no one was there but a woman doin' the washin'. She didn't know where any of the family was. That she saw Mitch go away with his fishin' pole. So I ran back and told pa, and he says, "Never mind—let it go—it's just as well." While I was gone, the man and pa seemed to have come to terms. Pa was goin' to take the thousand dollars. He did and gave the rest to the man and he said good-by and went.
Then pa turned to me and says: "I'll put this in the safe. But mind you, you're not to say a thing to Mitch or any one about it. It will be a Christmas gift, which ain't far off. And if you tell, I'll keep your half for my fee. I'll find it out, sure, if you tell. Promise me now not to tell." And I promised.
Then pa locked the money up in the safe. And he said: "Go home, now; and tell your ma I'll be home for supper. She's back from her visit and will be glad to see you."
So I went home.
There was days in here that I kind of forget. I remember Mr. Miller gave Mitch a watch which he had always promised him, and it looked good, but didn't run very well. So he was goin' to old Abe Zemple, which was a mechanic, to fix it. But it seemed to run worse, if anything. One thing that happened there was this: Old Zemple had a clock all apart, the wheels and springs scattered all over the bench. Mitch saw this and for fun he put a extra wheel on the bench with the rest. So when Old Zemple was puttin' the clock together again he couldn't find no place for this wheel; and finally he just left it out, and of course the clock run, havin' all the wheels back in it that really belonged to it. He went around town braggin' about puttin' a clock together with one wheel left out, and it was just as good as if it had all the wheels, and that showed that the factory didn't know about clocks.
But it happened that in fixin' Mitch's watch, old Zemple had left out a little pin, just a little pin that you could hardly see, and Old Zemple found it out and put the pin in, and then the watch run. Old Zemple told Mr. Miller about leavin' the wheel out of the clock, and Mr. Miller said, "How do you explain it, Abe? You leave a big wheel out of a clock and it runs; and you leave a little pin out of a watch and it won't run? Somethin's wrong. Look into it, Abe. For I've noticed about people that when they try to get somethin' extra into their lives, and fuss around like you did with this wheel, tryin' to find a place for it, that they don't need it, and do all right without it; and on the other hand, other people lose somethin' so little it don't seem to count, and yet they can't get along without it. But also sometimes a man thinks he's improved on creation by leavin' somethin' out of his life, or gettin' rid of somethin' in society, and it turns out that it didn't belong there, just like this wheel. We get fooled a good deal; for you know, my boy put that extra wheel on your bench." And then Old Zemple said, gettin' mad—"Some boys have lost pins, or never had any. Their fathers don't raise 'em up right." And Mr. Miller said: "This town is just full of wheels that have nothin' to do with the clock. They either belong somewhere else, or they are left-overs of other times—like Henry Bannerman," referring to the man that spent all day every day walkin' up and down on the stone floor back of the pillars of the court house.
I want to come back to Mitch's watch. But first I remember it was about now that a troupe came to town playin' Rip Van Winkle, and Mr. Miller and my pa took Mitch and me to see it. And as we came back home, pa said to Mr. Miller: "Henry Bannerman is a kind of Rip Van Winkle—a extra wheel—he's been asleep ten years, anyway." So Mitch and me began to beg for the story about Henry Bannerman, which was that he drank until he had a fever and when he came out of the fever, he was blurred like and not keen like when he could recite Shakespeare and practice law fine. So pa said that once when Henry first began to practice law again after comin' out of the fever, he had a little office in the court house and Alcibiades Watkins came in to see him about a boundary fence, and sat down and told Henry about it, takin' about an hour. When Alcibiades finished, Henry says, "Tell it to me over; it's a long story and important and I want to get it right." So Alcibiades told it over. And then Henry says, "You came to consult me, did you?" Alcibiades said "yes." "Well," says Henry, "I'll have to charge you—I'll have to charge you two dollars for the advice." And so Alcibiades took out two dollars and handed it to Henry and waited for the advice. And Henry said: "Well, Alcibiades, I have listened to you for two hours about this boundary, and the boundary fence, and I don't know a thing about it, and my advice to you is to go and see Mr. Kirby who can understand it and is a good lawyer." So Alcibiades said, "Well, I know, but I came to you for advice." "Yes," said Henry, "I know you did, and I have give it to you—go and see Mr. Kirby—he's a good lawyer and will tell you what more to do and how to do it. You see I'm not a barrister—I'm just a solicitor."
So Mr. Miller and my pa talked, which was as much fun almost as the show. They seemed to know everything and to kind of stand back of Mitch and me, next to God, or somethin' strong that could keep any harm away.
But to come back to Mitch's watch. George Heigold had a piece of lead with printing letters on one side, in copper. They called it a stereotype, and it would print. And he wanted to trade Mitch for the watch, so he offered his stereotype; and as Mitch was crazy about printin' and books, Mitch traded and was glad of the chance. But when Mr. Miller found it out, he said: "What did you do that for? That lead stereotype ain't worth nothin'—and here you have traded off your watch which I gave you. You know, I think you are goin' to be a author—for authors give their time and everything they have to print things—and this looks like the key to your life, and a sign of what your life is goin' to be. So I think I'll begin with you and put you in the office of the Observer to learn the printer's trade, like Franklin."
Of course this stereotype would print; and Mitch printed with it a good deal, but as it always printed the same thing, the fun soon died down, and Mitch really wished he had his watch back.
So that's how Mitch began to set type and help run a newspaper. The editor was Cassius Wilkinson, and a good deal of the time he was in Springfield, and the rest he was talkin' politics or gettin' drunk. So that the paper just run itself. The foreman was Dutchie Bale, who used to go to the farm papers or the Chicago papers and just cut great pieces out of 'em and set 'em in type for the paper; and as the editor didn't care, and Dutchie didn't care what went into the paper, Mitch had a chance to write for the paper himself; and also Mr. Miller slipped in some wonderful things; and people began to say that the paper was lookin' up. While Mr. Wilkinson, the editor, smiled and took the compliments give him just like he deserved 'em. And onct Mitch printed one of his poems about Salem, where one of the verses was:
Down by the mill where Linkern lived, Where the waters whirl and swish, I love to sit when school is out, Catchin' a nice cat fish.
I don't believe Mitch worked on the newspaper more'n a week or ten days, but lots happened; and I went down to see him a good deal to hear Dutchie Bale talk and swear. He swore awful, especially on press day; for the press nearly always broke down just as they started to print. Then Dutchie would turn loose:
"Look at the old corn-sheller, look at the old cider mill, look at the junk (all the time puttin' in the awfulest profanity). Here he's over at Springfield, and me runnin' the paper and tryin' to print a paper on a grindstone like this. I'm goin' to quit—I've had enough of this (more terrible profanity)."
Mitch would be standin' there half scared and half laughin', and another printer named Sandy Bill would be sayin': "Why don't you tighten that bolt, Dutchie?" Then Dutchie would crawl under the press and start to do what Sandy said, but findin' that the bolt was all right, he'd crawl out again and maybe see Sandy kind of laughin'. So thinkin' Sandy was foolin' him, they'd begin to quarrel; and maybe, it would end with Dutchie throwin' a monkey wrench at Sandy and rushin' out of the room. He'd come back later, for you couldn't really drive him off the place; and maybe after a hour or two the paper would be printed.
Well, Mr. Miller had wrote a long poem about the Indians, and he began to print it, and then somethin' happened. A man named Pemberton, which they called the Jack of Clubs, and a man named Hockey, which they called "Whistlin' Dick," had an awful fight by the corner store; and Mitch wrote up the fight for the paper, the editor bein' in Springfield, and Dutchie not carin' what was printed. Mitch called 'em human wind-mills; and when the paper came out, everybody in town began to laugh and the papers sold like hot cakes. Mr. Wilkinson was in Springfield and had nothin' to do with it; but Whistlin' Dick thought Mr. Wilkinson had wrote the piece and put it in. So he kept goin' to the depot waitin' for Mr. Wilkinson to get off the train from Springfield. When he did, which was in a day or two, he went right up to Mr. Wilkinson and hit him, and then proceeded to lick him until he had enough, and got up and ran; though he was sayin' all the time that he didn't write the piece and didn't know nothin' about it. Then Mr. Wilkinson came to the office and read the piece and Dutchie told him that Mitch wrote it. And that ended Mitch as an editor. He was afraid to go back to the office anyway, in addition to bein' fired.
Mitch was now a changed boy and every one could see it. He didn't come around as much as he used to. At first Mr. Miller set him to work to learn the printer's trade as I have told. That kept him away from me; but after he lost the job, still I didn't see him like I used to. I looked him up a good deal, but he was mostly quiet. He didn't want to fish, or to swim, or to go out to the farm—he just read, Shakespeare and other books; lying in the grass by his house. And he wouldn't come down to see me much, because he said it made him think of Little Billie. And Zueline had gone away with her mother, they said to Springfield; and if she'd been home, Mitch couldn't have seen her anyway. I was terrible lonesome without Mitch and the days dragged, and I kept hearin' of him bein' off with Charley King and George Heigold and it worried me.
Harold Carman had been put in jail, and then let out on bond, which held him to testify in the Rainey case. And one day Mitch came to me and says: "I'm really caught in this law. I've been to see your pa. I thought I'd told my story once and that would do; but he says there'll be a new jury that never has heard about the case or what I know; and I'll have to tell it all over again. And with Harold Carman to tell about their tryin' to get him to say he found a pistol, and my story, they can convict Temple Scott. So I'm caught; and if we had ever so much to do, and ever so much treasure to find, or trips to take, I'd have to put it aside for this here law and testifyin'. And if they knew how I hated it, they'd never ask me if I didn't like it, and like makin' a sensation and actin' the part of Tom Sawyer."
"Pinafore" was played at last, and we all went, but when my pa sang the "Merry, Merry Maiden and the Tar," Mitch got up and left the hall, because, as he said to me afterward, it brought back that awful night when Joe Rainey was killed. It must have affected others that way too; that and the death of Mrs. Rainey, who had a part in the show. For they only played two nights, instead of three, which they intended. Not enough came to make it worth while.
Then one night I went up to see Mitch and the house seemed quieter. The girls was playin' as before, but not so wild. Mr. Miller was readin' to Mrs. Miller, English history or somethin'; but Mrs. Miller looked kind of like she was tryin' to pay attention. She didn't act interested and happy like she used to. Mitch told me then that his pa had been let out of the church; that while we was gone to St. Louis the trustees met and decided that they wanted a minister who would put a lot of go into the church and get converts and make things hum; that the mortgage on the church had to be met and they couldn't meet it without gettin' more people interested in the church and church work. That may have been all true; but just the same everybody said that Mr. Miller was let go because he preached that sermon about God bein' in everything, which he didn't mean except just as a person talks to hisself. He was dreamin', like Mitch, when he said it.
So Mr. Miller was goin' to Springfield to see what he could do about gettin' to sell books or maps or atlases, and quit preachin' till a church turned up, or preach a little now and then, and marry folks when he could, and preach at funerals. I heard Mr. Miller say to my pa that he was worried about Mitch; that Mitch talked in his sleep and ground his teeth, and talked about engines and horses and findin' pistols and treasure, and ridin' on steamboats, and about Zueline and Tom Sawyer. And he said he'd tried to get him to go out to the farm with me and ride horses and get a change, but he wouldn't. He just read Shakespeare until they hid the book; and then they found him readin' Burns; and once Ingersoll's Lectures, which they also took away, because Mr. Miller thought Mitch was too young.
About this time I was about a third through readin' the Bible to earn that five dollars that grandma had promised me. And Mitch asked me what I thought, and I said I didn't understand it much; but in parts it was as wonderful as any book. And Mitch says, "Do you know what the Bible is?" "No," I says; "what is it?" "Why," he says, "the Bible is the 'Tom Sawyer' of grown folks. I know that now; so I don't have to go through the trouble of findin' it out after I'm grown up and depended upon it for a long while. There's the sky and the earth, and there are folks, and we're more or less real to each other, and there's something back of it. But I believe when you die, you're asleep—sound asleep—I almost know it. And why we should wake up a bit and then go to sleep forever is more than my pa knows or any person in the world knows."
Mitch scared me with his talk. He was so earnest and solemn and seemed so sure.
One night when I was up to Mr. Miller's, it came up somehow what we was goin' to do when we was grown up—Mitch and me—and Mrs. Miller thought we should be taught somethin' to earn a livin' by; and that the schools instead of teachin' so much, and teachin' Latin and Greek, which nobody used, should teach practical things.
And Mr. Miller said, "Look out! That's comin' fast enough; it's on us already. For back of the schools are the factories and places that always want workers, and they're already usin' the schools to turn out workers, boys who don't know much, or boys who know one thing. And it makes no difference what happens to me—it's just as much or more to know how to enjoy life and to enjoy it, as it is to be able to earn a livin'. If you earn a livin' and don't know how to enjoy life, you're as bad off as if you know how to enjoy life, but can't make a livin', or not much of one. Look here, you boys: Anything that gives you pleasure, like Greek and Latin, stories, history, doin' things, whatever they are, for the sake of livin', are worth while. And you let yourselves go. And don't be molded into a tool for somebody's use, and lose your own individuality."
And that's the way he talked. And then he said it was all right to dig for treasure if we wanted to, and to want to see the Mississippi River and see Tom Sawyer, and he didn't blame us a bit for anything we had done. "Yes," he says, "I'll take you to Springfield to-morrow; ask your pa, Skeet, and come along."
I did; and the next morning we took the train for Springfield; and here was a big town, not as big as St. Louis, but awful big. The capitol was bigger'n any building in St. Louis, with a great dome and a flag. And Mr. Miller took us out to see Lincoln's monument. Just when we got there, two men in overalls came runnin' from the back of the tomb and said a man—an old soldier—had just killed himself with a knife. So we ran around and found him lyin' in a lot of blood. The men came back and took a bottle of whisky out of his pocket, and a writing which said that the prohibition party had been defeated, and if it had won he couldn't have got whisky; and so he killed himself because the prohibition party had been defeated. And Mitch says, "What a fool idea! If he wanted the prohibition party defeated, why did he drink and buy whisky; and if he drank and carried whisky in his pocket, why did he want the prohibition party to win, and kill himself because it lost? He was crazy, wasn't he, pa?"
And Mr. Miller said, "Not necessarily—that's sense as things go in the world. Some people want whisky done away with so they can't get it their own selves, and when they can't get a law for that, it disappoints 'em, and they keep on drinkin' because they're disappointed, or kill themselves because their disappointment is too much. For you can depend upon it that any man that gets his mind too much fixed on any idea is like a cross-eyed man killin' a steer with a sledgehammer; he hits whar he's lookin', and hits wrong. Lincoln had a way of holdin' to an idea without the idea draggin' him down and away from everything else."
They had carried the dead man off, so we went into the tomb to see the curiosities. And there was more things than you could see: All kinds of flags and framed things, pictures and writing and showcases with pistols, and all sorts of trinkets, bullets, and knives; and a pair of spectacles which Linkern had wore, and a piece of a rail he had split, and books he'd read, and a piece of ribbon with his blood on it the night he died, and a theater program and lots of other things.
Then we went out-doors and looked up at the monument, and it made me dizzy to see the clouds sail over the top of it. And there was a figure of Linkern in iron, and of soldiers in iron charging, and horses in iron; besides mottoes cut in the stone and in iron. Then we went around to the back again where the old soldier had killed himself. They had the blood wiped up now. So we looked through the iron bars where a stone coffin was, but Linkern wasn't in there, Mr. Miller said. For once they had tried to steal him, and got the lead coffin out, and clear down the hill that we could see; but they caught 'em. And after that they dug way down and put Linkern there, and then poured mortar or concrete all over him, clear up to the top; then laid the floor again and put this marble coffin there, which was a dummy and had nothin' in it. So now nobody could get Linkern forever and ever.
And then we came around in front again, and Mr. Miller looked up at the statue of Linkern and began to study it, and he says: "I brought you boys to Springfield and out here to learn and to get things into your mind. You'll remember this trip as long as you live. It's the first time you've ever been here, and you'll be here lots of times again, maybe; but you'll always remember this time. Now, just look at Lincoln's face and his body and tell me how anybody could see him and not see that he was different from other men. Look how his face comes out in the bronze and becomes wonderful, and then think if you can how a handsome face would look in bronze—just the difference between a wonderful cliff or mountain side, and a great, smooth, perfect bowlder. And yet, boys, that man went right around here for twenty years, yes and more, all around this town, all around Petersburg, up at Old Salem, all over the country, practicing law, walking along the streets with people, talkin' with 'em on the corners, sittin' by 'em by the cannon stove in the offices of the hotels, sleepin' in the same rooms with 'em, as he did up at Petersburg at the Menard House, when the grand jury had the loft and they put Lincoln up there too, because there was no other place to put him."
"The Menard House," says Mitch; "do you mean that hotel there now?"
"The very same," said Mr. Miller; "didn't you know that?"
"No," says Mitch.
"Well, that shows you; you're like the people who lived when Lincoln did, they didn't know him, some of them; and now you don't know the places he went to and the country he lived in; and you'd never have gone to Old Salem, if you hadn't gone there for treasure—would you, Mitch?"
Mitch said he didn't know, maybe not.
"Well," said Mr. Miller, "if you find Lincoln while tryin' to dig up a few rotten dollars, it's all right anyway. Now, boys, look here, it seems an awful time to you since Washington lived, since the Government was founded—but it isn't. We're all here together, and when you get to be old men, you'll see that you were born and lived in the beginning of the republic. How will it look hereafter? Do you want to know—take a history and look at it now. Let's see! Washington had just been dead ten years when Lincoln was born; Lincoln had been dead eleven years when you were born. When Lincoln was born, the Government had been founded just twenty-three years, was just a little more than of age. It wasn't but just eighty years old when Lincoln became president. Why, these figures are nothing. Think about it. When did Juvenal live? About 42 A.D. When did Virgil and Horace live, and Caesar and Augustus and Domitian? What does forty years here or there mean when you're lookin' back over hundreds of years or a thousand? And so I say, you boys were born in the beginning of the republic, not a hundred years after it was started, and if either of you ever get your names into the history, there it will be beside Lincoln, and not far from Washington—for you were born ten years after Lincoln died and not a hundred after Washington. Well, there you are. You're young and the republic is young; and the chance is before you to do for the country and help out, for we're havin' bad times now, and they'll be worse. After every war, times is bad, and we're goin' to have other wars and worse'n ever."
Then Mr. Miller said: "There's two kinds of men—at least two. One that thinks and one that acts; or one that tells people what to do, and others that listen and do it, or else have thought it out first themselves, and do it. Well, look at Lincoln up there. Here he was over at Old Salem running a store, surveyin'; then in politics a little, then a lawyer; but mostly for twenty years he was thinkin' about the state of the country, slavery and things; and he thought it all out. Then they elected him president, and he acted out what he thought."
"Well, don't you suppose he could have got rich practicing law or tradin' in land? He was a good lawyer—none better! Why didn't he get fees and save and buy land during the twenty years he practiced law? Because his mind was set on the country, on how to make the country better, on being a shepherd of the people. The man who thinks of money all the time, thinks of himself; and the man who thinks of the country and wants to help it is thinking of what can be done for people and how the country can find treasure in having better people, and better laws, and better life and more of it. Yes, sir, boys, you'll find somewhere that Lincoln said his ambition was to be well thought of by his fellow citizens, and to deserve to be. And it never occurred to him that he could do that by getting money."
"Don't you boys think I'm lecturin' you for huntin' for treasure, or that I want either of you to grow up and be as poor as I am. I don't. I want you to have sense and provide for yourselves; Lincoln did that; he really had plenty after he got fairly started. But on the other hand, gold as gold I hate, and I see it getting power in this country. Why, it has it now. Look at Lincoln's face, what do you think he'd think of what's happened since the war—the robbery, ruin and conquest of the South, the money grabbing and privilege grabbing at the North, the money deals in New York, the money scandals everywhere—the treasure-hunting everywhere—and not a big man left in the country; none of the old, fine characters left who built their lives on foundations of wisdom and service and makin' the country better—none of these left to come forward and take the country out of the hands of these vultures, wolves, hyenas. And what are we going to have? Is money goin' to be the master in this country, or is man goin' to be? I hate it—I hate it as Lincoln hated it when he asked whether the dollar or the man should be put first. And I hate it because it is brainless, spiritless. It cares for nothing but itself. It is a snake that swallows and sleeps and wakes to eat again. It is a despot; it is without love, genius, morality. It is against people, against God, against the country. It is as wicked as Nero, as gluttonous as a cormorant; and it makes cowards, slaves, lick-spittles of some of the best of men. In this country, intended to be of free men, where men could grow and come to the best that is in them, already we find these laws and principles mocked—by what? By gold, by riches; and we find talented men and good men compelled to step aside for rich men; and rich men held higher than good and useful lawyers, preachers or anything else. Well, there's Lincoln: and if never again in the history of this country a rail-splitter, a boy who worked up from nothing with his hands and his mind, comes to rulership, still there's Lincoln, on whom no rich man could frown; and no big-bellied capitalist could patronize or ignore or make step aside. Why, it's great—it makes me happy, it gives me hope. And I can see for ages and ages the face of Lincoln on books, on coins, on monuments; until some day his face will be the symbol of the United States of America, when the United States of America has rotted into the manure piles of history with Tyre and Babylon, as it will if it doesn't turn back and be what Lincoln was: a man who worked and thought, and whose idea was to have a free field, just laws, and a democracy where to make a man and not make a dollar is the first consideration."
And then Mr. Miller said: "Yes, this is a great monument and Lincoln was a great man. You see when all the sap-heads and poets down in New England and all over was hollerin' for nigger equality and to give the nigger a vote and to marry him, and give him the same right as anybody, Lincoln just kept cool; and he didn't even emancipate the nigger until he had to in order to win the war. It was to win the war, understand. He wasn't swept off his feet by anybody, orators or poets or yawpers—nobody. But you'll see when you grow up what the difference is between not havin' the nigger for a slave and allowin' him to vote and marry you; and you'll see that what Lincoln said when he went over the country debatin' with Douglas, speakin' at Havana, and right here in Springfield and at Petersburg, too, he said to the last and acted on to the last. It was after the war and after Lincoln was dead that these here snifflers and scalawags got into power and pushed it over until they gave the nigger the vote and all that. And if this country goes to pieces because the good breeds have been killed off and die off, and the country is run by the riff-raff, then Lincoln, say five hundred years from now, will stand greater than he is to-day, unless the world can then see that the nigger should have been kept a slave, so as to let the wise and the intelligent have time to think better and work better for the good of the country. For, boys, you can put it down that a country ain't good that is run on the principle of countin' noses, and lettin' everybody have a say just because he walks on two legs and can talk instead of barkin' or waggin' his tail." And so Mr. Miller went on.
Then Mr. Miller said damn, or that something could be "damned." And Mitch says, "Pa, did you know you swore?" And Mr. Miller says: "I shouldn't have, and don't you follow my example. But sometimes I get so mad about the country."
So we had seen the monument and walked away; and when we got a long way from it, we turned around and looked at it for the last.
Then Mr. Miller said he was glad he was out of the church, that he had tried to do certain things, but they wouldn't let him, and kept him in a groove. And now he was going to sell atlases and geographies, and be a free man, and maybe write a book. And he said: "The idea seems to be that goodness, spirituality, is church. It isn't, and it never was; it wasn't when the Savior came; He found goodness and spirituality in a lot of things, in a free life, in the freedom of out-doors, and not in the synagogues. Now, boys, believe in the Bible, in the Savior—I mean that; but don't let that belief make you into a membership with those who live for denial, for observation of injunctions, for abstinence from life, more or less, for solemnity, for religion as business, and business as religion, and religion for business. This is not goodness—not spirituality. Lincoln was good and spiritual—he believed in the mind and he used it. Wisdom, beauty, play, adventure, friendship, love, fights for the right, and for your rights, travel, everything, anything that keeps the mind going; and kindness, generosity, hospitality, laughter, trips down the Mississippi, making cities beautiful and clean, having fun,—all these things are spirituality and goodness. They are religion—they are the religion of the Savior. They will make America; and they ought to be Americanism."
So Mr. Miller went on. I can't remember half he said, but it was plain he was worked up. Losin' his church or somethin' had set his thoughts free; and everything considered, I think he wanted to give us some ideas about things. And so after lookin' at Linkern's home, a frame house, not very big, not fine, but a good house; and lookin' at the furniture and things he had, we took the train back to Petersburg.
I could see plainer and plainer that I was losin' Mitch. There was somethin' about having this business together of huntin' for treasure that kept us chums; and now that was over and if we didn't get something else, where would we end up? Mitch said that the trip to Springfield had cured him of being mad at his pa for takin' us to Hannibal to see Tom Sawyer the butcher. And he said: "Suppose you was at Old Salem fishin' and you had a can of worms for bait, or thought you had, and you was really out of worms. Which would be better, to set there and think you had bait and go on believin' that until you began to catch fish and needed lots of bait and found you hadn't none, or to find out you hadn't none all of a sudden and then go get some in time for the fishin' that got good? And so, wasn't it better to find out that Tom Sawyer didn't live and find it out suddenly than to go along being fooled until something serious happened, and be a fool to the end, and maybe lose some good chance?" What I wanted to tell Mitch was that our case was real, that we had found treasure and would get it on Christmas; but I had promised my pa I wouldn't tell, and I didn't. I only said to Mitch: "We're just as sure to get treasure as the sun shines." And Mitch said: "Maybe, but not real treasure, not money, not jewels, or things like that."
As I said, I was surely losin' Mitch, for he was goin' considerable now with Charley King and George Heigold. I don't know what he found with them to like; only they were older and as it turned out, he did things with them that he and I never did. I tried my best to hold on to him, but couldn't. Sometimes I'd think I wasn't losin' him, that it was just fancy. Just the same things wasn't the same. The Miller family wasn't the same; there wasn't as much fun up there; and now Mr. Miller was away a good deal selling atlases; and sometimes when I was there of evenings Mrs. Miller would be sittin' alone, no one reading to her, and the girls kind of walkin' the rooms, and Mitch a good deal away of evenings, not home like he always was before.
You see I had a pony all the time; but pa loaned him here and there, and sometimes took him out to pasture across the river to a farmer's and that's how it was I didn't ride him sometimes out to the farm. But now he was in the barn, and as I didn't have Mitch, I rode about the country by myself. And once went out to the farm for a few hours, comin' back to town in a gallop all the way, to see how quick I could make it.
Finally I thought I'd go out to the farm on my pony and stay for a few days, and go camping with my uncle over to Blue Lake. I was goin' the next day and was out under the oak tree when Mitch came along. He seemed stronger, bigger, more like Charley King and George Heigold; there was somethin' about him kind of hard. He seemed as if he'd fight easier; he was quick to talk back, he seemed to be learnin' about things I didn't know. There was a different look in his eyes. He was changed. That's all I know. Mitch set down in the grass and began to make traps out of timothy to catch crickets. Somebody had taught him that. His face began to change. He began to look friendlier and like himself again, except he looked older and like he knew more. And then he began to talk:
"Skeet," he says, "I'm not Tom Sawyer, and I never was; never any more than you was Huckleberry Finn. I know who I am now. Do you?"
"No," says I. "Who are you?"
"Well, I'll tell you, Skeet—I'm Hamlet."
"Hamlet—who was he?"
"Well," says Mitch, "he was a prince."
"Well, you ain't," says I.
"No, I ain't. But Hamlet could be just like me and not be the preacher's son; and because he wasn't wouldn't make him different. Yes, sir, I'm Hamlet. I've read the play and thought about it a lot. And I know now who I am. And you, Skeet, are Horatio."
"Who was he?" says I.
"He was Hamlet's friend, just as you are my friend. And as far as that goes, there was never any persons more alike in this world than you and Horatio. You are good and steady, and don't change, and you are a good friend, you have got sense, and you have no troubles of your own, and so you can listen to mine, as Horatio listened to Hamlet's."
"What troubles have you?" says I.
"Lots," says Mitch, "that is general troubles—of course Zueline and this here court worries. I've got to testify again. I'm tangled up just like Hamlet was, and I want to get away like he did, and I can't. And it teaches me that it ain't because I'm a boy that I can't get away, for Hamlet was a man and he couldn't. He was getting old, most thirty, and he couldn't do any more with his life than I can with mine—not as much, maybe."
"And yet you say he was a prince."
"Yes, but what difference did that make? Did you ever see a chip get caught in a little shallow in the river in the reeds; and then see it get out of the shallow by the current changing or somethin', and then see it start down the river all gay and free, and run into some brush floatin', or get thrown against the logs to one side of the dam and held there? Well, Hamlet was a prince, and he was just a chip caught by the dam and couldn't budge and kept tryin' to and couldn't. This is what my pa says the play means; but also I can see it for myself. I keep readin' it and it gets clearer. And pa says it will never make any difference how old I get, the play will be wonderfuler and wonderfuler, and is to him; and that finally I'll wonder how any man could ever write such a thing."
"But didn't Shakespeare—he wrote it, didn't he?—get it out of some history?"
"Of course," says Mitch, "and didn't Linkern live, and right here in this town, as you might say? But suppose somebody could write up Linkern and use the very things that Linkern did and said, not as we hear 'em around here, wonderful as they are; but write 'em up so that you'd know what Linkern really was and why and all about it. For that matter, take Doc Lyon. We know he was a lunatic, but why, and what for, and just what it means to be a lunatic, I don't know and no one will know until some Shakespeare writes him up. For that matter, some folks think that Hamlet was a lunatic."
"Well, you ain't, Mitch," says I.
"No more than Hamlet was. He just was troubled and his mind kept workin', and that's me. But what would you say if I was the son of Joe Rainey and Mrs. Rainey?"
"How do you mean?" says I.
"Well, suppose I was their son, and suppose I knew that Mrs. Rainey, my mother, wanted Joe Rainey, my father, dead, and put it into Temple Scott's mind to kill my father, Joe Rainey; and then Temple Scott did kill him, and then Mrs. Rainey, my mother, put a pistol down so as to make it seem that my father, Joe Rainey, had carried a pistol. Suppose I was their son and was up in the tree and saw what I saw, what would I do?"
"Then you'd have to testify," said I.
"You don't know what you're sayin', Skeet. You don't see that I love my father, and he's been murdered; and I love my mother, and she has really murdered him. And if I testify against my mother, I get her hanged; and if I don't testify against her, then I wrong my father that I love; my mother goes free, and sometimes I hate her, because she is free, and my father has been robbed of his life, and I do nothing to punish her and Temple Scott for taking his life away. That's the worst of it; or maybe it's just as bad because I'm tangled in law and can't do what I want to do—can't be free to hunt treasure, we'll say, or do what I want to. Don't you see what a fix I'm in? Then suppose with findin' out what my mother is, the whole world changes for me—I get suspicious of my girl, and won't marry her and everything goes bad and finally I get killed myself, after killin' Temple Scott who's married my mother, we'll say, and in a way cause my mother to die too."
"Well, of course all this can't be," says I, "for you're not the Raineys' son;—they're both dead anyway; and Temple Scott will probably be hanged, and no one will kill you—you'll grow up and get married—not to Zueline—"
"No," says Mitch, "never to her. For I ain't suspicious of her—I'm just done with her, just like Hamlet was done with Ophelia. I know her as he knew Ophelia, though she's different from Ophelia. She's cold, Skeet, and never understood me. I see that now. If she had, she'd never let her mother keep her away from me. Nothin' can keep a girl away from you that loves you. And I'll tell you something right now. Not long ago, I was walkin' by her house on purpose and she came out goin' somewhere. I tried to talk to her, and tell her that we could meet sometimes, maybe down at Fillmore Springs, or take a little walk at dusk or early evening; and that I wouldn't bother her much, only we'd understand that by and by we'd get married and be together forever, and I'd go away happy if I could have that hope. Well, she kind of turned on me and said 'no,' and hurried on. And, Skeet, when I saw that, when I saw that it was her as well as her ma that wanted me away, and meant to keep away from me—something kind of froze through me—or burned maybe, and then froze—my heart got like a big stone, and I could see it just as if it had been scalt and then turned white and shiny and kind of numb like my foot I cut in two. I began to laugh and since then I have been changed; and I'll never be the same again. My ma said it was foolish, that I was just a little boy and I'd grow up and it would all be forgotten. But I know better—I'm Hamlet—and I don't forget, and I never will. Do you remember one time when you and I was out to your grandpa's farm and Willie Wallace was settin' out trees?"
I said "yes."
"Well," says Mitch, "Willie Wallace that time cut a gash in a tree with the pruner while handlin' it and settin' it out. And he says to us, 'That tree will never get over that. By and by it will be a big scar, growin' big as the tree grows big, and grown over, maybe, but still a scar; or worse, it may stay open more or less and rain and frost will get in, and insects, and after a while it will be a great rotten place, a hole for a snake or a rat, or maybe a bird.' Well, pa says that Linkern lost Anne Rutledge and that he thinks Linkern's beautiful talk and wonderful words came from losin' Anne Rutledge. I don't quite see how—but if it did, then if a bird gets into the hole in the tree, that's a sign that you say somethin' or write somethin' because you've been gashed, just as pa says that Shakespeare wrote his wonderfulest plays and sonnets because he'd lost a woman. And sometimes I think I'm goin' to write something. I keep hearin' music all the time, and I try to write words down, but they don't mean anything; they are silly; so I tear 'em up."
So Mitch went on and he worried me. And I says: "Mitch, I'm goin' to say somethin' to you! Do you like me as much as you used to?"
"Every bit," says he. "Why?"
"Because," says I, "you don't always act the same. And besides, you keep goin' with Charley King and George Heigold—and—and—"
"And what?" says Mitch.
"And—I was afraid you liked 'em better'n me."
"Why," says Mitch, "them two boys is just grave diggers compared to you—or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—while you are Horatio all the time."
He explained to me what he meant by this, which was that in "Hamlet," Hamlet talked to grave diggers and to two men named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, without givin' a snap for 'em compared to Horatio.
Then I said, "I'm goin' out to the farm to-morrow. School will begin in about three weeks. I'm goin' out on my pony, and you can ride behind. And you'd better come. We'll have a lot of fun, and my uncle is goin' to take me campin' to Blue Lake." So Mitch said he'd go; and after a bit he began to repeat something he'd committed to memory. He was settin' in the grass, lookin' up at me, and his voice was so wonderful and sweet, sayin' these words:
O, what can ail thee, knight at arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge is withered from the lake, And no birds sing.
O, what can ail thee, knight at arms, So haggard and so woe-begone? The squirrel's granary is full, And the harvest's done.
"I met a lady in the meads Full beautiful, a faery's child. Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild.
"I saw pale kings and warriors too, Pale princes, death pale were they all. They said 'La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall.'"
Mitch was goin' on with this when we heard some boys whistle. It was Charley King and George Heigold. They called Mitch to the fence and talked. Then Mitch called back and said, "I'm goin', Skeet—come for me—what time?"
"I'll be up about seven," I said.
And Mitch climbed over the fence, and went with these boys.
I went up to the fence and follered them with my eyes till they turned the corner by Harris' barn and was gone.
The next morning I was on my pony and up to Mitch's house at seven, and whistled and whistled. By and by one of the girls came out and said Mitch had staid all night at Charley King's and wasn't home yet. So I went over there; but he and Charley was up and gone already. Mrs. King came to the door, came out and stood by the pony and petted him and said I had pretty eyes, same as before. Then she said Charley and Mitch had gone somewhere. She didn't know where. So I rode off and rode around a bit and then I started for the farm, thinkin' that Mitch had treated me mean—and why would he for Rosencrantz or Guildenstern? whichever Charley King was. I was sure Mitch would turn up and the next day grandpa was goin' to town early to be home by three o'clock, and he said he'd bring Mitch out if he could find him.
My uncle now was in a mood to go camping to Blue Lake. So we got the tent out and began to mend it where it needed it, and fix the ropes. We took the guns and cleaned 'em, and I helped my uncle load a lot of shells. We set aside some pie plates and cups and did a lot of tinkerin' around. Grandma didn't want us to go. She was afraid we'd get drowned or shoot ourselves, or that a storm would come up and we'd get struck by lightning.
In the afternoon old Washington Engle came and he and grandpa sat under the maple trees and talked old times, even about Indians, for they had been in the Black Hawk War together, and they had seen the country grow from buffalo grass to blue grass and clover. I sat there listenin'; and pretty soon a buggy pulled up and somebody called in a loud voice and laughed. It was John Armstrong and Aunt Caroline. They had drove over to visit; and John had brought his fiddle to play some of the old things for grandma—some of the things he had played years before when Aunt Mary was sick and grandma was takin' care of her. Grandpa liked gospel tunes, like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," but grandma liked "Rocky Road to Jordan" and "The Speckled Hen"; and John could play these and couldn't play religious tunes worth a cent. And John told stories as before; and he told about a man at Oakford who never had any money and always wanted drinks. So he took a jug and filled it half full of water and went to Porky Jim Thomas' saloon and asked for a half a gallon of alcohol, and Porky Jim poured it in. Then this man said to Porky Jim, "Charge it, please," and Porky Jim says: "Why, you ain't got a cent, and you never pay anybody." So he took up the jug and poured out what he had poured in and told the man to take the jug and go. And he did and had, of course, a half gallon all mixed. John laughed terribly at his own story—the women didn't laugh, nor grandpa. My uncle did, and I that's all.
Then Aunt Caroline helped grandma get supper and we had a lot of fun and they drove home.
The next day grandpa started early for Petersburg, so as to be back by three o'clock for something. And my uncle and me was getting ready because we was goin' to drive to Blue Lake that night, pitch the camp, and fish while it was quiet. So we had to grease the wagon and do a lot of things. And grandpa was to bring Mitch.
Three o'clock looked like it never would come. But at last about three I saw the white horses on the far hill, and then I saw them pulling hard and slow up the near hill and I could see grandpa now but couldn't see Mitch; and I watched and looked. Then I thought he was hid under the seat; or had dropped off to walk and come in later and fool me.
Grandpa drove in the lot. His face was set. He looked serious. He didn't look at me. He held the lines and looked straight ahead. I climbed on the carriage and says, "Where's Mitch?" Just then my uncle came up to unhitch the horses. My grandpa threw him the lines and grandpa got out of the carriage. Then he said, speaking really to my uncle and not to me:
"Mitchie Miller was killed this afternoon on the railroad."
"Grandpa!" I cried. "Grandpa!"
My grandfather's eyes were purple—they had grown deep and almost terrible to see. And he said: "Yes, son," and hurried toward the house.
I went to the barn. I saddled and bridled my pony. I leaped into the saddle and struck my heels into the pony's flanks, and away I went in a run all the way to Petersburg—six miles and not a pause or a let up.
When I got there in a little more than half an hour, I found that they had Mitch up at the house of Widow Morris. So I went there. He was still alive—and they let me in. It was terrible. Such a smell of ether—medicines. Such whisperings—such fullness in the room. The doctor said we'd have to clear out, some of us. And some left. I staid long enough to see Mitch. His eyes were closed. His face was yellow—I could see blood. I turned sick and went out of the room. Just as I got to the door I heard Mitch say, "Has pa come?" They said, "He's comin', Mitchie, be patient, he's comin'." Then I stood by the door.
And pretty soon Mrs. Miller came and the girls and my mother and Myrtle and most every one. It seemed Mr. Miller was away selling atlases, but would be home soon, maybe, or maybe not till late, and maybe not till to-morrow. All the girls cried like their hearts would break; and Mrs. Miller knelt down by the bed, and Mitch says to her, "Where's pa?" And she says, "He's comin', Mitchie." And then she choked and had to walk away. They cleared the room now pretty much, and of course Mrs. Miller allowed me to be in the room if I wanted to, and could stand it. But I stood by the door, or just inside a little, for Mitch was talkin'. Finally they let me go to the bedside, and Mitch saw me and says, "Skeet," and then turned his head kind of over as if he wanted to say something he couldn't bear to say.
Then Mitch began to talk more. "Don't row so fast," he'd say—"The river's gettin' swifter. Take the horses from that engine. I'm goin' to see Tom Sawyer—I can fly to him—fly—fly—fly—Zueline—it's you, is it?"
Then he kind of woke up and says: "Is Zueline here?" And they said, "No, but she was comin';" but she wasn't; she was out of town, and probably wouldn't have come anyway. And then he said—"Get my pa—he must forgive me before I die."
By this time I knew how Mitch was hurt. He'd been with Charley King and George Heigold, and they had been flippin' on the train. And Mitch was ridin' on the side of a car with his foot hangin' down that he had cut in two, draggin' against the wheel, which he didn't notice because his foot was numb from being cut in two when he was four or five years old. So the train gave a lurch and dragged him under; and the wheels cut him at the hip. It couldn't be amputated by the doctor, and they couldn't stop the bleedin'.
Then Mitch began to repeat all kinds of poetry from "Hamlet" and things I didn't know; and he repeated what he had recited to me that day:
"I saw pale kings and warriors too, Pale princes, death pale were they all. They said 'La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall.'"
And he talked about flyin', about treasure, about St. Louis, about Doc Lyon, and Joe Rainey and the pistol; and once he talked as if he thought he was testifyin' in court; and he said—"Now we're on the Mississippi—how fast the boat goes—don't row so fast." But always he'd come to and say, "Where's my pa?"
And after a bit there was a stir—Mr. Miller came—pushed his way through. He was pale as ashes, all trembling, out of breath, for he'd run up the hill. And he came to the bedside, but Mitch was dreaming again, drifting and dreaming, and talking about boats, about money, about Hamlet, about treasure, about pale kings and warriors and death-pale princes. But pretty soon he says, "Where's my pa? Is he never comin'?"
"I'm here," said Mr. Miller.
Mitch opened his eyes and looked at his father for about a minute and saw his pa had come. He was pretty weak now and it was hard for him to speak. But finally he said, "Take my hand—pa." And Mr. Miller took it. And then nothin' was said for a while. And then Mitch spoke again—"Forgive me, pa." And Mr. Miller, who was tryin' to keep from cryin' so as not to worry Mitch, says, "Oh yes, Mitchie." And then Mitch says: "Say a little prayer, pa." And Mr. Miller knelt by the bed to say a prayer, and Mitch says—"Not out loud—just to yourself."
So Mr. Miller did, and then Mitch wandered again and he says, "Don't row so fast." Then there was a terrible stillness. Mitch had died with them words.
And my friend—my chum, was gone for good.
And then there was the funeral. It was held at Mr. Miller's house and everybody was there; my grandpa, my grandma, my uncle, John Armstrong and Aunt Caroline, Willie Wallace, Colonel Lambkin, Nigger Dick, Dinah, my ma and Myrtle, all the Sunday School children, and George Montgomery. Only Charley King and George Heigold wasn't there. They were afraid, bein' partly responsible for Mitch's death. And when everybody was seated and ready, Zueline and her ma came. They was all dressed up, and everybody looked at 'em. Mr. Miller, of course, couldn't preach the sermon for his own boy; so they sent for a wonderful preacher over at Jacksonville and he talked for about an hour about pearly gates and the golden streets of Paradise; and there was Mitch lyin' there, pale, his eyes sealed, just asleep, but in such a deep, breathless sleep. And they had the church choir there which sang. And one of the songs they sang was:
I will sing you a song of that beautiful land, Of the far away home of the soul, Where no storms ever beat on that glittering strand, While the years of eternity roll.
And the minister went on to say how good God was, how no sparrow falls except He knows it, how all our hairs was numbered and how God loves us, and would comfort the father and mother and brothers and sisters, and little friends; and how if it hadn't been for the best, Mitch wouldn't have died; and that God knew best and we didn't; and if we could look ahead and see the dreadful things that would happen, we'd know that God was good and wise to take Mitch away before they happened—while he was yet a boy, and had had no trouble and all the world was still beautiful to him. And he talked about sin and what suffering does for people, how it makes 'em humble before God, and respectful and at last saves 'em if they will heed the lessons and turn to God. Everybody cried when the last song was sung, especially the children, who sobbed out loud, and Mr. Miller and Mrs. Miller and the Miller children—and I looked over at Zueline and her ma. Her ma was just lookin' down. I thought I saw a tear in Zueline's eyes, but I'm not sure. So we went out to the cemetery and they buried Mitch not far from Little Billie. So it was all over. We began to separate and get into carriages or walk. And pretty soon I was home. There was nothing there. My ma went in and began to do something. Myrtle went out to the swing. I went in the house but couldn't stand it; and then came out and hung on the gate.
After a bit Charley King came along and asked me about everything. Pa said Mitch had been running with Charley King and George Heigold, and they got him into things too much for his age, flippin' cars and such things, and that's how Mitch lost his life. You see I'd been scared about this; I didn't want Mitch to go with 'em; I didn't know why; but now it was clear.
And with everything else, it was Sunday, for Mitch had died Friday, four or five hours after he was run over. And it was only a week now till school would take up.
The next day I went down to the office with pa. I wanted to be close to him; he was a man; he was strong, and I was lonesome and grievin', and at night always dreamin' of Mitch. And after a while Mr. Miller came in, and Mrs. Miller too. They looked terrible sad and pale. Here was Mr. Miller out of a church and not makin' much, and here they had lost their only boy.
So pa went over to his safe and got the $1000; he had it in two envelopes, one marked with my name and one with Mitch's; and he came back, holdin' 'em in his hand and he said: "You know that these boys found that money that belonged to old Nancy Allen. Well, a fellow named Joe Allen turned up here from Pike County—a third cousin of hers—and her only livin' relative, and I had this money for him. But when I told him that these boys had found it while lookin' for treasure, and what kind of boys they were, the old fellow remembered his own boyhood, his poverty, and all that and he wanted to do something for these boys. So he made me take this thousand dollars to divide between 'em." Mrs. Miller began to sob. And Mr. Miller's voice was broken, but he said, "Hard, I never heard anything like this—never in my life." "Well, here's the money," says pa; "and I made Skeet promise not to tell anybody about it until we got ready to." He stopped; and I, not thinkin', said: "It was to be a secret till Christmas."
Then Mrs. Miller broke down completely, and for several minutes nothin' was said. My pa was cryin', so was I. So was Mr. Miller, and just then the train came in, the same that had killed Mitch, and it seemed like none of us could stand it.
After a bit pa says: "Of course, half of this money goes to you and Mrs. Miller under the law, and the other half belongs to Skeet—but I'm not going to let him take it. He doesn't need it. I can always take care of him, and I'll inherit quite a lot, and he'll have that. And as far as that goes, it wasn't his idea to hunt for treasure—he was just a helper and followed up Mitchie's idea. So now here it is, and it goes with my blessing and with Skeet's."
And I said, "Indeed it does." And pa handed the envelopes to Mr. Miller, and he took 'em and fingered 'em in a nervous way and he says: "What shall we do, ma?—we need the money, but somehow I don't like it, and I won't take Skeet's share, would you?"
And she says, "No—never—I'd never take Skeet's share; that is Mitchie's share and his too." "Here," he says, "here's the envelope marked with Mitchie's name, you take this, Skeet, because you and Mitchie worked together, and if you want to give me the envelope marked with your name, I guess I'll take it—I seem to have to."
So that's the way it was done. And he said to pa: "Hard, there never was a better man than you, or a better name or family than yours, or a better boy than Skeet." Then the tears came in his eyes, and he and Mrs. Miller left. And afterwards I said to pa, "I don't want this money. If I could have had it with Mitch, if we could have spent it together for velocipedes—and dogs, and sets of tools, for scroll saws, watches and whatever we wanted, and soda water, when we wanted it, and bananas, which we never had much because they cost ten cents apiece—for anything, that would have been different. But now it's just so much rags or paper, and I haven't got any use for it whatever. I am Huck Finn at last—the money means nothing to me. It meant nothing to Huck, because when he got it, he had to put on shoes and dress up. And now I've got it, I've lost the only thing that made it worth while. I've lost Mitch who made it interestin' to get, and would have made it interestin' to spend."
Then I told pa I wanted to give it to the Miller girls, barrin' just a few dollars to buy a present for ma and grandma and Myrtle, maybe—and I wanted them to take enough to put up a stone at Mitch's grave with some words on it, suitable to him.
So pa said he thought that was all right. And I took out $20 and we put the rest in the bank in the names of the Miller girls—and that ended the treasure.
So next Monday school commenced, and I sat in my seat lookin' out of the window. Zueline had been taken to a girls' school in Springfield so as to get her out of the common schools; and her mother had gone with her to stay all winter. And every day the train came through that Mitch was killed on. The days went by; the fall went by; the winter came. The snow began to fall on Mitch's grave and Little Billie's; and still we went on. Delia got the meals as before; the washwoman came and did the washing on Monday; pa was buying wood for the stoves; we had to be fitted out for winter. Grandma and grandpa came in to see us, cheerful and kind as they always were. Once he carried a half a pig up the hill and brought it to us; and they were always giving us things; and grandma was always knitting me mittens and socks. They had lost a lot of children, two little girls the same summer, a daughter who was grown, a grown son who was drowned. They seemed to take Mitchie's death and Little Billie's death as natural and to be stood. And they said it wouldn't be long before we'd all be together, never to be separated; and then we'd all be really happy.
And finally the December court came around and they tried Temple Scott. Harold Carman testified to what he had said to the woman on the boat. And Major Abbott was kerflummoxed and lost the case. Temple Scott got fourteen years in prison—and that ended that. He went there and staid.
And then Christmas came and in the evening I went up to the Millers'. The girls were playing about the same as before. Mr. Miller was reading Shakespeare to Mrs. Miller and he looked up finally and said, "Ma, I've just thought of an epitaph for Mitchie's stone—here it is in 'Hamlet': 'The rest is silence.'" And Mrs. Miller said "yes" and put her knitting down to count stitches. The girls rushed into the room laughing and chasing each other. And then I went home.
I had presents, but what was presents? My chum was gone. I thought of the last Christmas when we was all together—Mitch was here then and Little Billie. I couldn't enjoy anything. I crept up to bed and fell asleep and dreamed of Mitch.
* * * * *
You will be surprised to know how I came to write this story. But before I tell you that I want to say that if Mitch had written it, it would have been much better. I sit here, dipping my nose in the Gascon wine, so to speak, as Thackeray wrote of himself; and I know now that Mitch was a poet. He would have made poems out of his life and mine, beautiful songs of this country, of Illinois, of the people we knew, of the honest, kindly men and women we knew; the sweet-faced old women who were born in Kentucky or Tennessee, or came here to Illinois early in their youth; the strong, courtly, old-fashioned men, carrying with them the early traditions of the republic, in their way Lincolns—honest, truth telling, industrious, courageous Americans—plain and unlettered, many of them, but full of the sterling virtues. Yes, he would have written poems out of these people; and he would have done something more—he would have given us symbols, songs of eternal truth, of unutterable magic and profound meaning like "La Belle Dame sans Merci." I am sure he would have done something of this kind—though it is idle to say he would have written anything as immortal as that. You must only indulge me in my partiality for Mitch, and my belief in his genius, and hope with me that he might have done these great things.
And yet! And now why did I write this story? As I was sitting with my nose in the Gascon wine, which is a strange figure, since there is no Gascon wine here, and no wine of any sort, since a strange sort of despot has got control of the country, for the time being only, I hope—as I said, as I was sitting with my nose in the Gascon wine, I was also reading, and I was alone. I have had chums, I have had companions, but none like Mitch, never in all my life. And being alone, I was reading—what do you suppose? I had been out for the evening, I had found a book lying on the table of my host, I had looked in the book and begun to read. My host saw I was intrigued and said, "Take it along." I did, and was reading before going to bed. The book was the letters of John Keats to Fannie Brawne.—Well, don't you suppose these letters made me think of Mitch who had repeated "La Belle Dame sans Merci" to me and was uttering some of its marvelous lines with his dying breath? But this was not all. Let me quote one of Keats' letters to Fanny Brawne:
"When you were in the habit of flirting with Brown, you would have left off, could your own heart have felt one half of one pang mine did. Brown is a good sort of man—he did not know he was doing me to death by inches. I feel the effect of every one of those hours in my side now; and for that cause, though he has done me many services, though I know his love and friendship for me, though at this moment I should be without pence were it not for his assistance, I will never see or speak to him, until we are both old men, if we are to be. I will resent my heart having been made a football. You will call this madness. I have heard you say that it was not unpleasant to wait a few years—you have amusements—your mind is away,—you have not brooded over one idea as I have, and how should you? You are to me an object intensely desirable—the air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy. I am not the same to you—no—you can wait—you have a thousand activities—you can be happy without me. Any party, any thing to fill up the day has been enough. How have you passed this month? Who have you smiled with? All this may seem savage in me. You do not feel as I do—you do not know what it is to love—one day you may—your time is not come. Ask yourself how many unhappy hours Keats has caused you in loneliness. For myself I have been a martyr the whole time, and for this reason I speak; the confession is forced from me by the torture. I appeal to you by the blood of Christ you believe in. Do not write to me if you have done anything this month which it would have harried me to have seen. You may have altered—if you have not—if you still behave in dancing rooms and other societies as I have seen you—I do not want to live—if you have done so, I wish this coming night may be my last. I cannot live without you and not only you but chaste you; virtuous you. The sun rises and sets, the day passes, and you follow the bent of your inclinations to a certain extent—you have no conception of the quantity of miserable feeling that passes through me in a day—Be serious. Love is not a plaything—and again do not write unless you can do it with a crystal conscience. I would sooner die for want of you than— "Yours forever, "J. Keats."
Then I turned back a few pages in my disconnected way of reading this book, and I found these words: Fannie Brawne to whom this agonized letter of Keats' was written wrote to a Mr. Dilke ten years after Keats' death in regard to a memoir proposed to the dead, and in the following unconcerned and ignorant way:
"The kindest act would be to let him rest forever in the obscurity to which circumstances have condemned him."
No remembrance here for Keats' adoration; no thrill that a human heart, even if it had been the heart of an ordinary man, had poured out its last devotion to hers; no pity for his obscurity, if it was such, his untimely and tragic death; no recognition of his passion for beauty, including his misguided passion for the beauty which was not in her; no perception of the goodness in the man, the bravery of his heart; the white fire of his spirit; no understanding of his greatness, even after Byron had written that "Hyperion" was as sublime as AEschylus, and Shelley had poured out in "Adonais" the grief and the passion of a flaming indignation and scorn in one of the greatest of elegies; no memory contemplating the agony of a dying youth stricken with consumption, and torn with the tragic spectacle of defeated ambition. "Let him rest forever in the obscurity to which circumstances have condemned him."—These were her words in the face of all these things.
And so, reading these words of Fanny Brawne, my mind turned back to Mitch, and his life rose before me and took shape in my mind, and I wrote; just because he had had this boyhood love for Zueline and went through that summer of torture for losing her. And I could see that he might have suffered these pangs again; that over and over again, perhaps, he might have poured out his passion in the endless search for beauty and faith, and in the search for realization and glimpses of eternal things through them, and that he would have never found them, through woman; and so thinking I could look back upon his death at twelve years of age with complacency, and almost with gladness.
But also if he had lived through as many years as I have lived, he would have passed through the chaos, the dust, the hate, the untruth that followed the Civil War. He would have seen an army organization exercising a control in the affairs of the republic beyond its right, and ideas that were dead and were never rightfully alive, keeping the people of his country from pulling themselves out of poverties and injustices, and from planting themselves upon the new soil of each succeeding year and its needs. He would have seen wealth amass through legalized privilege into the hands of treasure hunters; and he would have seen these treasure hunters make and interpret the laws their own way, and in behalf of the treasure they had and were seeking. He would have seen his country go forth to free an island people, and then turn and subjugate another island people as a part of the same war, and then depart from the old ways into paths of world adventure and plunder. And he would have seen his country spend ten times what it spent in the Civil War and lose in battles or disease half as many young men as it lost in the Civil War in the crusade of making the world safe for democracy; and he would have seen democracy throttled and almost destroyed at home, and democracy abroad helped no whit by this terrible war. He would have seen that all these things happen for treasure—for gold which cares nothing for laws, nothing for liberties, nothing for beauty, nothing for human life, but always seeks its own everywhere and always, which is its own increase and its own conservation. He would have seen men jailed for nothing and sacred rights swept away by the sneers of judges, and written safeguards of the people's liberties by those very judges sworn to support, overthrown by them, at the bidding of treasure hunters who stand back of hired orators, hired newspapers, hired clergymen, hired lawyers, and hired officials. He would have seen congresses uttering and acting upon lies, and his country bound together with a network of elaborate falsehood.
The America his father hoped for and the America he would have hoped for sits for the time being, anyway, in dullness and in dust. And so I am not sorry that for these nearly thirty years, Mitchie Miller has been dust, a part of the hill overlooking the Sangamon River, not far from the deserted village of Old Salem—his dust at one with the hill and sharing its own eternity!
Printed in the United States of America.
STARVED ROCK TOWARDS THE GULF THE GREAT VALLEY SONGS AND SATIRES SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY With Additional Poems