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HEN Sam Woodruff was alive bing or a week's nursing. The woodshed
there was always a barrel of Aour was full, and she was warm despite Dein the pantry. One year he stored fiftycember. bushels of potatoes in the cellar, grown on Two things irked her to-day, and set his patch of land. Not a winter passed her mouth watering at the memory of without a string of traps along the river, Sam's lifetime. She had a long-accumuand it was a poor season when his rifle did lated and increasing desire for something not earn at least one fox-pelt. All this sweet, and she was faced by the arrival of was in the last fragment of life, when age one of those moments when she must borclogged his steps and sapped his arm. Be- row or try to borrow. There was no fore that he had been young and conquer
kerosene oil, and she could not buy any ing.
until work came. That meant darkness Now there was corn-meal and salt in that evening or borrowing of Martha the pantry. Deb, widow of Sam, sat in Griggs, her only near neighbor. These the kitchen smoking her clay pipe and were the inexorable alternatives, for the thinking of the contrast. She was not fierce pride she had learned from Sam formourning. There was no probability that bade her to borrow of any but the poor. she would starve. Pretty soon somebody Borrowing from the well-off might look would come after her to do a day's scrub- like begging. Stealing was unwise merely
with the ghosts of long-gone meals. Martha Griggs, whose pale-red hair was drawn straight back from a pale and puckered face, looked with frank suspicion at the bottle. She was paring potatoes. She motioned toward a chair with her knife.
"Mornin'," greeted Deb as she sat down. "How be you all?"
"Lem 's to work, and I 'm to work, and Petey 's gettin' worse about the same as usual."
"Huh!" Deb pondered. It would be wiser to see Petey and express sympathy before mentioning the oil. "Worse, hey? Can I see him?"
"If you want to," answered Martha, without interest. "He 's in there."
Deb moved into what had been the parlor before they put Petey in there to die. The half-grown son of Lem and
Martha Griggs lay on a sofa, propped up would be a big expense for people like the by pillows. Deb, who had seen the gray Griggses, not poor enough to let the town coming of death many times, knew that bury him and too poor to afford it themit was drawing close to that place.
selves. Petey's parents had done what they "I want something good to eat,” he thought best for him. Since September
Since September whispered. "Seems as though if I could the windows had been nailed down, in have a piece of mince-pie I'd get some order that no breath of deadly fresh air strength into me." might reach his affected lungs. With the Mince-pie! Deb brightened. Now she door leading to the kitchen closed, his knew that the taste of mince-pie was the room was virtually sealed. A wood-stove elusive savor that had been haunting her kept it at a varying, but always high, palate for days-mince-pie with lots of temperature. Here he slept and lived in
She licked her lips and swalas much neatness as Martha Griggs could lowed. spare time to provide. Nevertheless, the "I'd walk five mile' for a piece of end marched upon him.
mince-pie, myself,” she said. “Feelin' any better?" asked Deb.
“I don't s'pose ma would let me have "No; I feel bad, Mis' Woodruff." His it," whispered the boy. skeleton fingers worked among the knots “Prob’ly not,” answered Deb, cauof the home-made comfortable that was tiously. It was none of her business. She spread over him.
rose to go. "Huh!" Deb appraised him with an "You ask ma about the pie; she won't experienced eye. He might last a week or listen to me." he might go at any hour. The funeral “Aw right.”
sugar in it.
"Well," Martha Griggs sighed, "I ain't got the mince-meat, anyway."
"Huh!" So Deb had thought. She rattled her bottle against the floor.
"You got any oil to spare till I can send to the village for some?"
"No, I ain't." It was a peevish outburst. "There's only enough for tonight; have to keep a lamp burning all night in Petey's room now, because he 's afraid. It takes all Lem can earn to keep things going here, I can tell you. Funeral expenses coming on, too, most likely. I don't know how we 'll manage."
"Got enough to eat, ain't you?" de
manded Deb. She knew that the Griggses' five-gallon oil-can had gone to the village two days before.
"Yes; but I don't know how long we will have," snapped Martha.
"That 's what I thought," said Deb, calmly. She went out, swinging her bottle. The desires of the old resemble those of children. Deb was little interested in the oil now; what she wanted was mincepie. She could smell it as she stepped into her own kitchen-smell the delicious richness of it floating to her from that oven of her stove in which many a mincepie had been baked before Sam died. It was not likely that the oven would ever bake another.
She must find something to do and forget her craving. It came to her memory that this was churning-day at the Sanders farm, across the valley. Buttermilk was invariably given away, and therefore it was no disgrace to ask for it.
It would take the place of tea with her thing and then it 's another. Say, don't
' corn-meal mush. She could have bor
you want some sour milk for cookin'?" rowed oil there without difficulty save that "I don't care," answered Deb, meanthe code of Sam forbade it. The Sanders ing, in the vernacular, friendly acceptance. were well-off and higher caste than the She had nothing to cook with sour milk, Woodruffs and the Griggses.
but the years had taught her never to It was a two-mile walk each way over refuse anything. Moreover, she did not roads not well broken out, but Deb want to get the Sanderses out of the habit thought of this as no hardship. It was of giving her things. When they butchbecause circumstances forced her to take ered they always gave her a piece of meat. such walks that she lived on and on in A voluntary gift could be accepted, as steady health. She thought it was because from one neighbor to another. her pipe kept disease away.
"There!” Mrs. Sanders came forth, All during the trip to the Sanders place breathing as though she had achieved a the memories of past mince-pies tormented gigantic task. “There 's your butterher. She visualized them and smelled and milk, and there 's the sour milk. Don't tasted them, and she was mumbling to forget to bring back my pail the next time herself about their goodness as she kicked you come over after buttermilk." the snow from her feet and stamped into "I won't, Mis' Sanders. Much obliged the Sanders kitchen. Mrs. Sanders, fat, to you." kindly, and permanently flurried, greeted Deb took the two pails and started her with a cheerful voice.
homeward, still tantalized by the mince"Hello, Deb! I s'pose you come for pies of the decades of her life. She realbuttermilk.”
ized that she must get such thoughts out "You bet I did." Deb held out her of her mind, for her small earnings would pail. “How be you?"
never be more than enough to keep her in "Goodness!” Mrs. Sanders puffed into Aour and tobacco, tea and fire-wood, the pantry and talked from there. "I'm
potatoes and salt.
She might, indeed, all upset with churning. First it 's one meet with mince-pie at her next place of