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silent friend, the bed, stretching out its ed himself on a grassy mound in the soft white arms for him.
shade of an oak. When he went down-stairs, at noon, Miss Plumb sat under the trees, with an
CHAPTER VI. open book before her. “ What are you reading ?” he asked.
NEW BOLTON waked up, the morning Bryant's Poems,” she replied.
after Richard's departure, conscious that A book to be bound in bark,” said
it had lost a lawyer, but congratulating Richard, “ fragrant bark, too, and tied up with wild grasses.
itself on having gained a land-office: It is of the
Land-Ofice of Chinny & Co. woods, woody. I never knew,” he continued, "the real worth of Bryant until Co. unknown, but senior member of the I took him to the haunts of Nature with firm present, with his feet on the winme. His beauties, like the virtues of a dow-sill. Some disrespectful village-boy wife, shine in the shady places of life.” thought he sat in that way to let his
Richard talked thus to keep off the brains settle, his head being considerone unpleasant subject that oppressed ably lower than his heels. The fact is, his thoughts. But Miss Plumb was not however, he was spreading himself out to be trifled with.
as much as possible, that he might en“I'm surprised,” said she, abruptly, joy, to his utmost capacity, his recent “ that you brought me no letters from acquisition. Without this, the triumph New Bolton,"
over Richard would have been incomRichard was leaning on his hand, so
plete. as to conceal his face, and he said noth- But Mr. Chinny did not waste himing in reply.
self in idleness; he was preparing his “ You called on Mary, I suppose, be- mind for another victory of still greater fore you left ?"
importance. He had cunningly chosen Richard shook his head.
the time for his last attack, when the “ Matters seem to have reached a garrison was weakened by desertion. climax," said Miss Plumb. “I want to From the left breast-pocket of his be frank with you,” she added, after black broadcloth coat, Mr. Chinny some hesitation ; " for I think I could pulled a pair of kid-gloves. He untell you something you would like to doubtedly looked on these as evidences hear."
of his wealth and standing, and comRichard instantly turned his face, and menced putting them on.
But they looked at her inquiringly.
hung back, and could not have been “But I ought to know," said Miss more obstinate if they had been made Plumb, “just what your relations are up of mule-skin. Finally, after these with the New Bolton people, and why were subdued, except the ugly wrinkles, you came here this morning."
that would rise up on the back, and “I believe,” he replied, “ that such an could not be made to lie down, but beexplanation is due; but you cannot came inflamed, and seemed to swell the imagine how hard it is for me to make more he rubbed them, he attacked his it. Let me begin at the beginning collar. This was a vicious case. There then Richard suddenly colored deeply, seemed to be some latent, aggravating and rose to his feet.
force, located in his left ear, that atDoctor Blodgett and Plumb had just tracted the front of his collar, in spite returned from hunting, and stood close of all his efforts, until he took out the to them. The Doctor's looks were de- pins; and then the attraction was sudcidedly menacing, and his jealousy was denly transferred to his right ear. Havincreased by Richard's confusion. He ing overcome this last difficulty, by sevshook hands coldly, and treated Rich- eral spiteful jerks, and taken a few ard so much like an intruder, that he cloves in his mouth, for sweetness, he strolled off to the waterfall, and stretch- walked to Colonel Seabray's house, and
was shown into the parlor, where he “I may have suspected it, because found Mary alone.
father, for some reason, considers your " Is there any pews this morning, Mr. friendship very important-of enough Chinny ?"
importance to have you become a mem“No; nothin' particular. Every ber of his family, should it be found thing is going right, I believe. Nobody possible and necessary." dead, and nobody run away, since I “ Is it possible for me to become a seen you last night.”
member of his family?” asked Chinny, There was a very deep flush on Mary's turning as pale as a white-livered man face, and an awkward pause here. could on so short a notice.
" There are a great many people com- “Many things are possible that are ing into this country now,
I am told,” not probable,” she replied. said she.
“Now, that means nothin' at all, if I “Yes, business is brisk.
understand it,” said Chinny. “I reckon fillin' up fast; and we're mighty bad we are well enough acquainted to talk off on account of not havin' railroads. pretty plain about these things. I've Makes it bad for me, livin' as I do; for got no secrets myself.” men leave their families here to go a “Will you please tell me, then,” said prospectin', and the families must eat Mary, “what your relations are to father, and sleep somewhere. So, of course,
and why you have such an influence the hotel is crowded to death, and board over him?"
She held her breath, and is gettin' higher, too. It ain't the way looked at Chinny eagerly. to live," said he, looking about the room. "I mean, I hain't got any secrets o'
“ Rather unpleasant, I should think," my own,” he replied, hesitating. said Mary.
“You mean, you can not talk plainly," “Unpleasant, uncomfortable, and un
said Mary. profitable,” said he, secretly congratu- “It would be dishonorable to do it, lating himself on having got together unless your father let me. Why don't these long words, that sounded well to you ask him about it?” him; "and I ain't goin' to live so, much “He will not tell me," she replied. longer,” he added.
But I cannot see what there is to fear; There was another long pause, during for you refuse to reveal this secret, even which he took an exact inventory of the to me, without his permission.” furniture, and gave his collar an admon- “But he's afraid I'll tell it," said itory jerk.
Chinny. " I've talked to the Colonel about it “ Then he must think you are not a before.” Mary did not speak or look man of honor," replied Mary. at him. “I s'pose the Colonel has told " The Colonel knows well enough you what I proposed to do ?” Chinny that I'll do as I agree to,” said Chinny, added.
"and that I won't do a thing when I Mary looked at him inquiringly.
say I won't." " What my offer was to you,” said he, “But must you agree not to do a dischanging his position in the chair, and honorable thing, before you can be redodging his eyes about to avoid hers. lied on not to do it?” asked Mary, in a
“I could tell,” said she, “ if I knew tone that would have stung a gentleman. the exact terms of the proposal, whether “You talk like a lawyer," said he, I have ever heard it before or not." trying to be facetious, and retreat under
“A proposal of marriage from me to cover of a smile. you," said he.
“I have thought like a lawyer on this “ He has never made any such pro- subject,” she replied; " and you have posal in your behalf,” she replied, turning pale.
“ The long and short of it is,” replied “But you must have known of it," Chinny, turning at bay, “if any one is said Chinny.
my friend, I'm his friend; and if he's
my enemy, I'm his enemy. Now, we protected now by a treaty of peace, which are to be friends or enemies : which is Chinny could not safely break at presit?"
ent. “ That depends on circumstances,” she His visit had confirmed Mary's resolureplied, rising, and going toward the tion to return at once to Chicago. She door. There was a sinister expression told her father of her determination on his face as she turned, and said, in a that night, and made preparations for conciliatory tone, “What will come, the journey. He mildly remonstrated ; will come; you must wait. When the but when he returned home the next pear is ripe it will fall to the ground, evening, she was gone. and all the forces of nature cannot hold Great was Chinny's wrath when he it up."
learned that Mary had left New Bolton, “It is ripe enough, I reckon," said and dire the vengeance he threatened. Chinny, doggedly. “The question is, He immediately commenced the forewho's goin' to be the lucky man to eat closure of his mortgage on the Colonel's it?"
house. As, under the laws there, it Her eyes flashed at this; and Chinny takes from eighteen months to eighteen involuntarily shrank into his chair, as years to get a sheriff's deed, there will she walked toward him. But she be some leisure left us to visit Plumb's checked the bitter words that were on Lake. her tongue, and said,
“When the pear falls we shall see."
“I reckon it's better for it to fall than to hold on till it pulls the tree NEVER before, in that country, had over," he replied.
so many wrinkles been smoothed out of “I have respected you,” said Mary, clothing, nor so few hairs combed so with dignity, "as father's friend; but I many times, on one head, in one day, as cannot respect a man who threatens me. that day at Plumb's; and the clothes, If you intend to threaten me now, con- wrinkles, and hair belonged to the Docsider our friendship at an end."
tor. Knowing him to be a physician “I don't make threats intentionally,” and surgeon, one would have supposed, said be. “I have been friendly to the on seeing him come out of the cottage Colonel, and always want to be. I've that afternoon, that, if he were not let him have money, too, whenever he going to a wedding, he must certainly wanted it, and took him into things to be on his way to amputate somebody's help him."
leg at least. His face was sombre, and “I know you have a mortgage on his eyes severe, as he approached Miss this house,” replied Mary; “but that is Plumb. a business transaction, and should have “I have long entertained for you feelno place in this conversation ; therefore ings of the highest esteem,” said he, we will not trouble ourselves with such with business-like precision. things. Let us be friends; for I can see Here he came to a dead halt, for Miss no good reason for our being enemies. Plumb had dropped her book, and was We must be patient, and leave these looking up to him with a beaming face. hard problems to the solution of time. As he hesitated, the expression of his Now, let us part while we agree so well,” countenance softened, and he said, said she, presenting her hand to him frankly, frankly. “Good-day!”
“I offer you my hand.” Chinny went down the path grinding “Which I accept,” she replied, rising, his teeth with rage. After all his pre- and extending both of hers to him. paration, and determination to get a The Doctor grasped them, and looked positive answer that day, he had been into her eyes, hardly knowing what to cleverly foiled. Not only that, but say at this unexpected answer. Mary was farther off than before, being When he sat down, great drops of perspiration stood on his forehead; and gambled away, and then became desperhe found it necessary to turn down his ate and insulting. It was about four collar, and wipe his head, up and down o'clock in the morning, after they had and crosswise, with his handkerchief, all been drinking, that the shot was until his hair looked as if it had not fired; and there was such a general been combed since he went to Sunday- wrangle going on about the table, that school.
no one present could have had a very But every rub removed a wrinkle from clear recollection of what occurred. his face, an l a doubt from his mind, as The secret of Chinny's influence is this: Miss Plumb talked, and he found he the Colonel seeks political preferment, had been unnecessarily jealous and has- and thinks he would become very unty in proposing to her. She told him popular were the people to hear that that French and Mary were in love; he had been a gambler on a river-boat; that the Colonel was opposed to Rich- and though he did not shoot Meech, ard, because he was in the power of the accusation would ruin his political Chinny, who wanted to marry Mary. prospects."
“I am satisfied,” said Miss Plumb, " What shall I do?” asked Miss " that the Colonel used to go down the Plumb. river to gamble, and that he is the man “ You had better write Miss Seabray, who shot young Meech at the gaming inviting her to visit you; then do what table, on a Mississippi River boat, some may seem best," · he replied; "and I years ago. I believe Chinny knows this, will deal with Chinny when it becomes and threatens to expose him. I have necessary.” tried, in various ways, to keep him from When the carrier arrived, Miss Plumb bringing this ruin on the Colonel. I had a letter ready; but she received one wrote Mary not to be too friendly with from Mary, filled with reproaches. It Mr. French, and to give Chinny some was clear now, that her last letter to slight encouragement; for I hoped, in Mary had been misunderstood, and led that way, to keep him still, until we to the difficulty ending in Richard's could gain time, and find means to fight. Miss Plumb thought she had silence him."
better not send the letter, but drive “ This is most extraordinary !” said over to New Bolton, and make explanathe Doctor; " because it is not true that tions to Mary, while the Doctor sought Colonel Seabray shot Meech.”
Richard for the same purpose. Miss Plumb stared now, and thought He found that young man under an of Chinny's inquiring of her whether oak, reading Blithedale, which was a she bad ever heard that the man who hopeful indication. shot Meech was a doctor.
“I beg pardon," said the Doctor, " for Why, then, should the Colonel be my rudeness to-day. I did not fully afraid of Chinny ?" she asked.
understand matters then; but I do now, " That is the reason I am surprised,” and it's all right. It was my duty, as a said the Doctor; “for, of course, the physician and friend, to inquire into Colonel must know that he is not guilty. your malady, and administer proper A man named Tyson, or Bryson, shot remedies. What is your present condiyoung Meech. He died, not long since, tion? What made you leave New Boland I read his confession in a paper.
ton ?" Bryson said that he alone was guilty, Richard briefly told the Doctor what and that he made the confession, be- had occurred, concealing nothing. cause another man had been accused of “So you see, that, after the Colonel thie crime. I did not know until now had shut the door in my face, and Mary that the Colonel had ever been suspect- had discarded me, I could do nothing ed or arrested. I believe Meech was but get a pony, and start for tall timber the son of a planter. He had a large -could I?" asked Richard. amount of money with him, which he “Of course, when a man concludes
not to fight, there is no way left but to right to expect. N. B. thought that he run," said the Doctor; "and, so far as went away to marry the daughter of an it may result in breaking off an attach- Indian-chief, who lived in the merry ment you have formed for Mary Sea- green woods by the great lake up north, bray, it will be a good thing. This and had offered a large fortune for a early love-making is be classed with white son-in-law. Coming back to pracpoetizing and other juvenile indiscre- tice now, New Bolton considered very tions. It is a hopeful indication, if not flat business on Richard's part. indulged in to excess; and as near as I Chinny was out of town. Some said can learn, you have had enough of it. he had gone to Chicago, where he was Success in business is the foundation on going to marry Mary Seabray; others which you must build; all else is sand. thought he was off trading horses; but I advise you to go back to New Bolton Old Bob declared that he had got disas if nothing had happened, and open gusted, and gone to Turkey Bend to an office in the old place, if possible; live. Duke was in charge of the landat any rate, open an office. I will give office, with instructions to sell the books you a letter to my deputy, who will to the first buyer; and the Doctor's furnish you money to buy books and deputy got them for less than the face pay all necessary expenses, until you can of the mortgage. stand alone. I have a project, which, When New Bolton found Richard in if carried out, will help you. There is a new office, with his old books on the to be a railroad from New Bolton to the shelves, and his old sign by the door, it Mississippi ; and we must control the stared a little, of course; but when it route and locate the stations. I am now was found that he was an enthusiastic à director, and want you appointed advocate of the pet railroad project, he attorney, when the time comes; and it immediately became popular. seems to be coming fast.”
What tended to increase admiration “This, now, my dear Doctor, is what for him, was Chinny's course, in devoI came West for,” said Richard, throw- ting himself to his own interests, and ing down the book; "and I am your opposing the interests of the public. man for the new enterprise. Tell me He wanted the railway-line surveyed, so which
as to terminate on his farm, lying about “ Well, you may get on your pony, a mile from town; and insisted upon
1 and ride over to Wrights. He lives other changes, which would make the about five miles out of the way; and I line inconvenient to New Bolton people. suspect he is opposed to me. I want to This made him unpopular there; and know whether he is or not; and you the New Bolton directors refused, not can find out. Take a gun with you, for only to change the route to suit him, it is good chicken-shooting there. When but insisted on leaving out Turkey Bend you have found out all you want to, ride entirely. Whereupon there was a meetto New Bolton, and write me.”
ing called, and a struggle between Richard found that Wright wanted Chinny's friends from the country, and the railroad to run past his house. To Doctor Blodgett's friends, which resultany one who would locate it there, he ed in the Doctor's election to the office was friendly; and those who opposed of president. He was given power to his plans, he looked upon as natural appoint an attorney; and gave the place enemics. That was all Richard could to Richard. learn, except that Wright had a large This completed the organization of family of girls, who advocated their the company; and a preliminary survey father's views with uncommon zeal. was ordered from New Bolton, by way
Richard rode into town the third day of Plumb's Lake and Globe City, to the after leaving Plumb's, much to New Mississippi. Bolton's surprise. It was not exactly Richard accompanied the party,
with what N. B. had predicted, and had a a note-book, field-glass, and gun. The