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tang out of our dialect, refinements, no doubt, yet one likes to know a Yankee by the flavor of his speech, and maple sugar by its taste.
If the sugar-maker had a helper to share his labor, the loneliness was relieved; otherwise it was only mitigated by some visitor bringing into the woods a waft of humanized atmosphere from the farms, with neighborhood news, and possibly that of the world, but two or three months old, in the latest paper. There might be a grand invasion of the camp by a score of young folks coming to the feast of "sugaring-off," when the hot syrup was cooled into dabs of waxy sugar in sap-tubs filled with clean snow, and each tub was a centre of love-making and merry-making, and the old woods rang with an unwonted clamor of jest and laughter and song. When the merrymakers were gone, and the last echo of their departing voices had faded out far behind them, a deeper silence brooded in the forest and a heavier loneliness fell upon the enforced hermit, who invoked no blessings on the unknown inventor of maple sugar, though but for him there would have been no sweet for the pioneer save the uncertain spoils of the wild bees. It might be that he, though solitary as the owl whose solemn challenge of the coming storm boomed through the starlit woods, was not lonely when alone, but was a true woods-lover, finding congenial comrades in the humblest visitors: the chickadees that came for scattered crumbs, the scolding jays, the jeering squirrels, the woodpeckers that explored his recent woodpile and hammered the logs of his shanty.
When daylight climbed out of the woods and departed from the mountaintops, and night encompassed the camp, the fire was his boon companion, that for the bountiful food bestowed upon it fed his imagination with pictures in its shifting flames and pulsing embers. It sang roaring battle - songs to him. It fired booming cannon-shots and rattling vol
leys of musketry of mimic battle, while armies of soot - sparks charged up the black slopes of the kettle toward the shore of the turbulent sea that surged and seethed under clouds of steam and smoke. It encircled itself with tall spectres that came and vanished, and came again; with shadowy goblins that danced in the edge of gloom, and leaped up as if snatching at other goblins that briefly soared on vaporous wings and then dissolved in darkness. Daylight itself could not give such cheer as the fire's warmth and radiance, nor greater protection; for the fire held at bay, far out in the darkness, unseen prowlers, whose slow steps could be heard stealthily crunching the snow-crust. It kept guard while the spent watcher slept. When he awoke at dawn it was burned to ashes and embers, snapping out with muffled explosions, and spinning slender threads of smoke that trailed away and unraveled into invisible air, and the quiet surface of the kettle gave off only a fluctuating web of vapor. Perhaps a sugar snow" had fallen while he slept, and he awoke to a transformed scene. The littered, dingy sur
face of the old snow was overlaid with immaculate whiteness, every branch and twig laden with it, the furrowed trunks inlaid with it, and yesterday's pervading gray so changed to universal whiteness that it all seemed like the unreal vision of a dream which further waking might dispel. It became a very apparent reality when the round of the tapped trees was made, and every trough and spout cleared; for though April snow has as great virtues as May dew, being a sovereign balm for weak eyes, a most excellent cosmetic, and a fertilizer of the earth, it will not make sugar nor improve it. He was fortunate who escaped a howling storm that filled the woods with the roar of the angry wind and the clash of naked branches, and blurred earth and trees and sky with a wild scurry of driven snow. The swinging kettle was a dusky blotch, the long crane reached
out of the misty chaos without visible support, and flame, smoke, ashes, and snow drifted alee along the ground in a torn, fluttering tangle. The beleaguered sugar-maker cowered under his blankets in the furthest corner of his shelter, sallying forth only to succor the fire; and thus coldly fed and housed, he waited in solitary discomfort till the fury of the storm was spent. After such a storm came the wearisome labor of mining for the drift-covered woodpile and various articles that lay unmarked beneath the new surface, and then the weary round on constantly loading snowshoes, and the toilsome delving for each buried trough.
So in fair weather and foul the work went on, while the breath of spring grew softer, and the tops of cradle - knolls, warm with color of last year's leaves and bright with patches of green moss, began to show above the coarse-grained snow. There was a wholesome odor of naked earth and the subtler fragrance of quickened trees; bees began to journey abroad in the tempered air, gathering diluted sweets along the slow trickle of the sap-spouts, and busy to little apparent profit over the scentless squirrelcups just unfolded from their downy buds; a butterfly voyaged indolently in the flood of sunshine, and flies buzzed to
and fro in spasms of purposeless flight, and drowned themselves by scores in the troughs; the buds grew plethoric with swelling life, and tinged the gray woods with a blush of purple; and presently the hylas rang their shrill bells for the final run of sap, with the disposal whereof the sugar-making season closed and the sugar-maker departed.
The drifting last year's leaves and the fresh verdure of the forest floor began to obliterate the traces of human occupancy, covering the cold ashes and footworn mould with dun decay and verdant life. Nothing looked strange but the black dome of the inverted kettle. The shanty asleep in the thickening shade became the home of wood-mice and squirrels, the wildest wood-birds perched and sang on its roof, and the fox peered in at the open front with bold curiosity. The trees slowly healed their wounds, and one may find some patriarch of maples still bearing the scars of its ancient tappings, and in the black leaf-mould at its foot a shell of crumbling wood that was once a sap-trough.
These are the passing memorials of the old-time sugar-maker's rude craft, and you will scarcely find so distinct a trace of the woodsy flavor of his sugar in the product of his successor's art. Rowland E. Robinson.
A SON OF THE REVOLUTION.
AN EXTRACT FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE HON. DAVID COBB TRUE, MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE FOR BLANKE COUNTY, IOWA, PREPARED FOR HIS SON, THEN AGED ONE YEAR AND THREE MONTHS.
THE year 1894 found me keeping the first anniversary of my marriage on my own farm. The farm was well worth ten thousand dollars, but I had bought it for thirty-eight hundred because of the cloud over the title. I have told you, my dear boy, how, the year after I was graduated
from the state university, I bought the farm, selling my share in my father's estate (which consisted of farm-lands in Scott County, mainly), and putting every penny I owned into this farm, the repairs and the stock. But the farm was a beauty. To be sure, there was the ques
tion whether the squatter's title would hold water; and the Land Improvement Company had been fighting the squatters for ten years, winning in one court, and losing, maybe, in another. But the man who owned this property sold it to me the cheaper for that, and I was young enough to be both daring and sure of my own opinion. Ralph Haines, my best friend in college, and one of the best fellows in the world, was dead set against it. He maintained that the land belonged to the company, and not to the squatters, who, according to him, had no show either in law or in equity. Perhaps if I had heard him talk before I was really committed, and before the craving for the beautiful farm had gotten into my veins, for I had an inherited love of the earth, come down to me from a long line of farmer's folk; I loved the very smell of the ground, and the lovely roll of the black, moist soil under my ploughshare, perhaps, I say, if I had heard him talk before I saw the farm I might have heeded him. Ralph had plenty of sense. But I had seen the farm, I was committed; and I was not going to back off in my own tracks, not I! I am a slow man to decide, but having decided, your mother says I am stiff as a nail in a hickory board. I was resolved to risk it, and Ralph came with me for a year or two to work on shares. Ralph had no money, and had worked himself through the university. It was a good thing having him by me; and the way we worked that year well, there is only one man who has described the way men can work on a farm, and his is the only adjective that names its quality rightly. Hamlin Garland calls the toil "ferocious." It was, that first year, in '91, and not much better in '92; but when '93 came, and I married your mother, I had paid every cent Iwed on my stock and machinery, and had a pretty little house, as well as a splendid barn, ready for her when she came.
ing at me, and then dropping her eyes in the pretty, shy way she has. "Oh, Dave, how could you think I should be lonely here?"
You see, son, she had been a teacher in the city, as I have told you, and I was afraid she would n't take kindly to the farm. I can remember how my heart seemed to turn a kind of somersault, and I felt a tingle of happiness all over. I guess my voice was n't quite steady as I answered, "It's all ours, dearest, and I'll try my best to make you happy."
It was the second I said it that something made me look up, and there at the window, outside, was Ralph's face. It was not the mere seeing him looking in on us which sent a chill through my mood; for if a man has n't the right to put his arm around his own wife, what rights has he? Not at all; it was the look on Ralph's face, a look of compassion. I can't call it anything else now, though it only puzzled and worried me then. Instantly the face was gone; and in a minute Ralph, glowing with welcome and cordiality, was bowing at the door. Yet, try my best, I could n't get that sorrowful expression of his out of my mind. The next morning I understood it a little. Said Ralph, we being out in the barnyard milking the cows, "Say, Dave, Joe Mawdlin was here yesterday."
"Was he? What did he want?" I asked, not attending much, but watching the stream rattle into the pail, and thinking what a good bargain that red cow was, half Jersey I was sure.
"He wanted you to join with him and the other fellows in fighting the Land Improvement Company. Case appealed to the Supreme Court, you know."
"Did it go against us?"
Ralph nodded, not looking up. I felt as if the cow had kicked me in the head.
"I have spent two hundred dollars already, fighting that case," I growled, "and now, I suppose, he wants a hun
"And this is all yours?" she said, look- dred more from me."
"Hundred and fifty," says Ralph, still mighty busy with his milking.
I said nothing. I am not much of a fellow to talk when I am muddled in my mind, and that was the way I felt at this minute.
"The company had a man around, too," says Ralph, "offering to compromise. He wanted to see you; told me he'd take forty-five hundred for this place, thousand down, and rest on long time."
That made me mad, somehow. I could feel my face getting warm. The image of the agent in his well-fitting clothes, with his shining cuffs and his ready cigars and his jokes, made my gorge rise. I thought of myself in the muck, toiling before the sun rose, and I ground my teeth. "He says the farm is worth ten thousand, with the orchard and the fences and the buildings, and the land's rich." "And who made it worth that?" I flung out savagely. "Who set out the trees, and built, and planted, and fertilized, and drained? Was it he or his d- company? I guess not! There was n't anything but prairie and scruboak trees and willow on the river when they bought it; and they bought it for a song, and paid so little they forgot they had it till better men than they came down, not knowing, and made homes here, and gave the value to the land, and now they jump on us. It is n't fair!"
“Well, you know they 've always said they owned it."
would n't show it to Ralph. I only grunted, and I milked the cow more gently, because I felt a currish impulse to vent my rage and fright on her, and bang her if she moved.
"Say you 're right, and they are bloodsuckers or anything else you want to call them." call them." Ralph spoke earnestly now, and looked at me. But I would n't look
up; I went on milking, with my jaws set. I hope when you come to read these things, David, boy, your father won't be the pig-headed idiot that he was then. "Call them anything, but don't you see, Dave, you're in the trap; and ain't it better to pay to get out than to stay swearing and be killed? Oh, I say, bluster a bit to the agent, if you like, it may get you a better bargain; but close with him, after all; two good years will put you back to where you think yourself now, and better. What I say is, don't risk your farm, you a married man, on a chance! Razzer would n't have paid out six thousand dollars in cold cash if he'd thought there was any real show of winning."
"They have n't spent a lick on the here till you have paid every last cent land."
"They could n't very well," returned Ralph, with a laugh that somehow set my temper on edge, "when they had n't the land. They have spent a heap of money lawing."
"D- them!" said I, which was n't argument, but relieved my feelings.
"Razzer's compromised," said Ralph. Old Simeon Razzer was the richest man in the county, reputed as shrewd as he was hard. That was a blow, but I
"Razzer 's an old man; he's lost his grip."
"Don't you believe it," said Ralph ; "he's got plenty of sand in him still, but he's got more sense. Say, Dave, you know you 've got the thousand dollars in bank, or will have when your corn is sold, and I 've got five hundred; between us we can fix up a good bargain, and I'll give you my word to stay by you
on your mortgage, how's that?"
"That's mighty kind of you, Ralph," I said, softened, "but I won't throw away money that way."
Nevertheless I did turn it over in my mind, and if Ralph had had the wit to plant his argumens, and then leave them alone to sprous, he might have had his will with me; but he was young and hot-headed, and I was young, and as hotheaded as he, really, under my phlegmatic looks; and he began at me again.
I asked him did he really think those sharks were right? and he admitted that he did think it. And the uptake of the matter was that Ralph grew red under his freckles until his hair and his skin were the same hue, - he was a handsome fellow, but he had the reddest shock of hair I ever did see, and he brandished his fists, and swore that the farmers out our way were a lot of socialists who wanted to repudiate their debts, and walked off in a huff. He came back and begged my pardon for his bad temper, inside the hour; but it was for his manner, and not for his words, and the sting of them rankled in me just the same.
I thought I would talk with the neighbors. We were four miles from a little town that depended on the farming country, but was working up some small manufactures, a woolen mill, some saw mills and canning works; quite a bustling place. I used to go over and listen to the talk. Naturally enough, as I should have considered, almost every one having a squatter's title to his land, the sentiment was strongly against the company.
There were some gifted talkers in the "all sorts stores" of the town, who used to sit on barrels, and eat dried apples and hard prunes, and rail at the railroads and the Rothschilds, and right all the farmers' wrongs; and I spent many a half-hour listening to them, and many another half-hour pondering over their speeches. They all regarded the Land Improvement Company as set of thieves who had no chance of collecting their claims, and they laughed at the agent.
"If they was to get a judgment, they could n't collect," Mawdlin declared furiously; "we would n't let 'em!"
I swallowed it all except that. "If the courts decide against us, for one, I won't resist them," said I. "My great-greatgrandfather fought in the Revolution, and my father fought in '61, and there's been too much fighting in our family for this country for me to fight against her."
You see I had just joined the Sons of the Revolution (your mother is responsible for that), and I was fresh primed with the family history. with the family history. You are a lineal descendant, Davy, of the famous General David Cobb, of Taunton, Mass., judge and general in the Revolutionary days; and your grandfather, Captain David Cobb True, although fortune did n't favor him with the opportunities of his mother's great-grandfather, was just as brave and faithful a man. “But,” I went on, "I'm not in favor of compromising any more than the next man, and here's my check, Mr. Mawdlin, for my hundred and fifty." So in a fool moment I cut my bridges behind me, you
The thought in all our minds was that if worst came to worst we might buy ourselves off, then as well as now, forgetting that the terms after a defeat are not likely to be the same as the terms before, and never dreaming that money might be less plentiful in future than it was now. Which shows what fools we were!
The years '93 and '94 were hard ones. In '93 came the panic, and never did Iowa know a crueler year on the crops than '94. Days of drought lengthened into weeks, and weeks into months; and then the hot winds rose to blast the poor, long-enduring corn. Did ever a welcome cloud soften the pitiless glare, it scattered while we were blessing it, and the horrible mocking sunshine was there as before. It was sickening to walk between the corn-rows and look at the wilted tassels and the yellow tips. With my windmill I brought water up from the creek, and I saved my corn; I saved some of my onions, not all. Ordinary years I can get two or three hundred bushels an acre on my onion land; I only got sixty that year; and what the bugs and the sun spared sprouted in the late rains, and were so poor I hated to haul them to market. The potatoes dried into marbles, and the cholera got into the hogs. I stamped that out by changing pastures