« PreviousContinue »
or recreant constable. Mr. Hay is a politician, of course, or he never would have stood where he does in the estimation of his neighbours. He is now somewhat tired of justiceships, and commissionerships, and memberships for himself, but he has always a favourite candidate, in whose behalf he and Tom Rice ride and run and talk and scold till the grand end is accomplished; and in all such matters the handsome-faced Timothy is Mercury.
The young gentleman in the blue jeans, who sits next Mr. Rice, being particularly interested in my story, must have a paragraph to himself.
Seymour Bullitt was, at the time when I first saw him, one of the most awkward and clumsy boys I remember to have met: thickset, red-faced, and withal much given to that kind of desperate and unreasonable yawning which threatens permanent dislocation of the maxillary processes. This habit had but one advantage-it disclosed, ten times a day, a double row of the most regular and beautiful teeth that ever wasted their ener
gies upon salt pork. These and a pair of dark eyes were all that poor Seymour had to recommend him; and his extreme rusticity was the continual whetstone of Tom Rice's would-be wit, especially at table, when the ladies of the family were present. On these occasions, Seymour's face became redder than ever, and Tim declared that he looked every where but at Caroline, whose languid blue eyes seemed scarcely to note his presence.
This young man was the son of a "forehanded" farmer, who had half a dozen such, and who, being a prudent man and a widower, had sent Seymour (by the by, a favourite name with us, and usually pronounced "Simmer,") to learn Mr. Hay's way of managing a farm; and the regular mode of doing this was to hire out as an ordinary "hand" to perform Mr. Hay's bidding; and Seymour would have liked his place passing well, if it had not been for Tom Rice's wit. This was "sair to 'bide," surely; but then Mr. Hay was such a nice man, and Mrs. Hay was such a nice woman,
and the girls were such nice girls, and Caroline here was always a misty place in his mind, so we will leave a blank.
We are not to suppose that Seymour ever spoke to any one within doors, when he could help it. He came in with the men from the field-he washed in the kitchen, and then went out of doors to comb his shaggy head, just as the rest did. But when all were seated at the table, and John Kendall gave grave opinions, or put forth sage truisms as to the crops and things in general, and Tom Rice practised the profitable art of word-catching, at the risk of biting his tongue with his dinner, Seymour sat in an unbroken silence, which seemed stupid enough. He was always bashful in the extreme, and, under present circumstances, the fear that Tom Rice might find, in his most trifling observation, something that would bear twisting, kept him absolutely mute. Of course the young ladies did not like him.
That Tom Rice was a torment, to be sure; and to see the ease with which he
laughed and talked with Caroline Hay, and the smiles that she gave him! Seymour tried to discover what it could be that gave Tom such advantages, but he could not make it out.
"What dismal cries are those?
- Nothing: a trifling sum of misery, New added to the foot of thy account."
IT so happened that, on a far distant part of the farm, when the process of clearing had but just commenced, John Kendall and Seymour, who went thither as choppers, on a fine day in autumn, found each a prize: Kendall's was a huge snapping-turtle, that was sunning himself on the borders of a small lake, which lay near the scene of the day's operations, when John's unerring aim put an end to his musings and his life together, with the aid of no weapon but a stone, such as few arms could have hurled so far. Seymour's treasure was a load of purple wild grapes which he had espied at no great distance in the wood, and which he determined to carry home as an offering to CaroHis thoughts were occupied