Watch Yourself Go By
230 Pages
English

Watch Yourself Go By

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Watch Yourself Go By, by Al. G. Field
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: Watch Yourself Go By
Author: Al. G. Field
Illustrator: Ben W. Warden
Release Date: January 15, 2007 [EBook #20375]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WATCH YOURSELF GO BY ***
Produced by Jacqueline Jeremy, Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
AL. G. FIELD, COURT AND SCOTT
WATCH YOURSELF GO BY
A BOOKBY
AL. G. FIELD
COLUMBUS, OHIO
1912
Copyrighted by Al. G. Field, 1912
Illustrated by Ben W. Warden
Introductory
WATCH YOURSELF GO BY
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by; Think of yourself as "he" instead of "I." Note closely, as in other men you note, The bag-kneed trousers and the seedy coat. Pick the flaws; find fault; forget the man is you, And strive to make your estimate ring true; Confront yourself and look you in the eye— Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.
Interpret all your motives just as though You looked on one whose aims you did not know. Let undisguised contempt surge through you when You see you shirk, O commonest of men! Despise your cowardice; condemn whate'er You note of falseness in you anywhere. Defend not one defect that shames your eye— Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.
And then, with eyes unveiled to what you loathe— To sins that with sweet charity you'd clothe— Back to your self-walled tenements you'll go With tolerance for all who dwell below. The faults of others then will dwarf and shrink, Love's chain grow stronger by one mighty link— When you, with "he" as substitute for "I," Have stood aside and watched yourself go by.
S. W. GILLILAND, inPenberthy Engineer.
"To whom will you dedicate your book?" inquired George Spahr.
Well, I hinted to my wife and Pearl that I desired to bestow that honor upon them. They did not exactly demur, but both intimated that I had best dedicate it to some friend in the far distance who would probably never read it, or to some dear friend who had passed away and had no relatives living.
Several others approached did not seem to crave the honor, therefore I herewith dedicate this book to Court; not that he is the best and truest friend I ever possessed, but for the reason that should the book not be received with favor he will respect me just the same. He will hunt for me, he will watch for me, he will love me all the more devotedly, serve me all the more faithfully, though the book were discredited. The more I see of dogs, the better I like dogs.
It is claimed there is a kind of physiognomy in the title of a book by which a skilful observer will know as well what to expect from its contents as one does reading the lines. I flatter myself this claim will be disproved in this book.
I am proud of the book, not that it contains much of literary merit, not that I ever hope it will be a "best seller," but for the reason it has afforded me days of enjoyment. In the writing of it I have communed with those whom I love.
If those who peruse this book extract half the pleasure from reading its pages that has come to me while writing them, I will be satisfied.
Maple Villa Farm, July 4, 1912.
CHAPTERONE CHAPTERTWO CHAPTERTHREE CHAPTERFOUR CHAPTERFIVE CHAPTERSIX CHAPTERSEVEN CHAPTEREIGHT CHAPTERNINE CHAPTERTEN CHAPTERELEVEN CHAPTERTWELVE CHAPTERTHIRTEEN CHAPTERFOURTEEN CHAPTERFIFTEEN CHAPTERSIXTEEN CHAPTERSEVENTEEN CHAPTEREIGHTEEN CHAPTERNINETEEN CHAPTERTWENTY CHAPTERTWENTY-ONE CHAPTERTWENTY-TWO CHAPTERTWENTY-THREE CHAPTERTWENTY-FOUR CHAPTERTWENTY-FIVE
CONTENTS.
Page 1 8 15 26 32 48 70 103 123 152 182 205 237 261 277 316 344 366 389 406 422 439 451 474 501
AL. G. FIELD.
WATCH YOURSELF GO BY AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
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Trust no prayer or promise, Words are grains of sand; To keep your heart unbroken Hold your child in hand.
"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!!" "Al-f-u-r-d!!!"
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The last syllable, drawn out the length of an expiring breath, was the first sound recorded on the memory of the First Born. Indeed, constant repetition of the word, day to day, so filled his brain cells with "Al-f-u-r-d" that it was years after he realized his given patronymic was Alfred.
The Old Well
"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!"—A woman's voice, strong and penetrating, strengthened by years of voice culture in calling cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other farm-yard companions. The voice came in swelling waves, growing in menace, from around the corner of as quaint an old farm-house as ever sheltered a happy family. In the wake of the voice followed a round, rosy woman of blood and brawn, with muscular arms and sturdy limbs that carried her over grass and gravel at a pace that soon brought her within reach of the prey pursued—a boy of four years, in flapping pantalets and gingham frock.
The "boy" was headed for the family well as fast as his toddling legs could carry him. Forbidden, punished, guarded, the child lost no opportunity to climb to the top of the square enclosure and wonderingly peer down into the depths of the well. To prevent his falling headlong to his death—a calamity frequently predicted—was the principal concern of all the family.
As the women folks were more often in the big kitchen than elsewhere, it became, as a matter of convenience, the daily prison of the First Born. The board, across the open doorway, and the eternal vigilance of his guards, did not prevent his starting several times daily on a pilgrimage towards the old well. The turning of a head, the absence of the guards from the kitchen for a moment, were the looked-for opportunities—crawling under or over the wooden bar, and starting in childish glee for the old well.
Previous to the time of this narrative, the race invariablyresulted in the capture of "younghopeful"
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ere the well was reached. The shrill cry: "Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!" always closely followed by the young woman who did the scouting for the other guards, brought him to a halt. He was lifted bodily, thrown high into the air, caught in strong, loving arms as he came down, roughly hugged and good-naturedly spanked, and carried triumphantly back to his prison—the kitchen. Here, seated upon the floor, he was roundly lectured by three women, who in turn charged one another with his escape. It was never hisfault. Someone had turned a head to look at the clock, or the browning bread in the oven, turning to look at the cause of the controversy, not infrequently he was found astride the prison bar, or scampering down the path.
That old well, or its counterpart, was surely the inspiration of "The Old Oaken Bucket." However, their author was never imbued with fascination as alluring as that which influenced the First Born in his desire to solve the, to him, mystery of the old well.
The more his elders coaxed, bribed and threatened, the more vividly they depicted its dangers, the more determined he became to explore its darkened depths. The old well became a part of the child's life. He talked of it by day and dreamed of it by night. The big windlass, with its coil of seemingly never-ending chain, winding and unwinding, lowering and raising the old, oaken bucket green with age, full and flowing; the cooling water oozing between the age-warped staves, nurturing the green grasses growing about the box-like enclosure. How cooling the grass was to his feet as on tip-toes peeking over the top of the enclosure down into that which seemed to his childish imagination a fathomless abyss, so deep that ray of sun or glint of moon never penetrated to the surface of the water. The clanging of the chain, the grinding of the heavy bucket bumping against the walled circle as it descended, and the splash as it struck the water, were uncanny sounds to the boy's ears. The desire to look down, down into the old well's hidden secrets became to him almost a frenzy. The echoes coming up from its shadowy depths were as those of a haunted glen.
He reasoned that all men and women were created to guard the well and that it was his only duty in life to thwart them.
Balmy spring, with its song birds, buzzing bees and sweet-smelling blossoms, coaxed every living thing out of doors; everything, except the First Born and his guards.
Such was the situation when the bees swarmed. The guards "pricked up their ears," then, with eyes looking heavenward, and snatching up tin pans which they beat with spoons, sleigh-bells and other objects, they rushed from the kitchen to work the usual charm of the country folk in settling the swarming bees.
Thus unguarded, the little prisoner, carrying a three-legged stool that aided him in surmounting the bar across the kitchen door, trekked for the old well. Planting the stool at one side of the square enclosure, he looked down into the cavernous depths; leaning far over, reached for the chain, with the intention of lowering the bucket, as he had often seen his elders do.
"Al-f-u-r-d!" "Al-f-u-r-d!"
And the sound of hurrying feet only urged the boy on. He had caught hold of the bucket and was leaning far over the dark opening when he felt a heavy hand upon his shoulders, and himself lifted from his high perch, only to be dropped sprawling on the ground with a shower of tin pans rattling about his devoted head. Then the women, half fainting from fright, fell upon him, each in a desperate effort to first embrace him in thankfulness over his rescue from falling into the well.
When the women recovered their "shock" the First Born was lustily yelling for papa. Mamma had him across her knee and was administering the first full-fledged, unalloyed spanking of his childish existence. He scarcely understood at first, then the full meaning of the threats the guards had used to cure him of his one absorbing mania began sifting into his brain through another part of his anatomy. He promised never, never again to peep into the old well. The guards believed him and for days thereafter he lived blissfully on their praises, while everyone, directly or indirectly interested, conceded that mamma's "spanks" had finally broken the charm of the old well for the boy.
However, the little prisoner was removed to another cell—the big, front room upstairs—the door securely locked. A large, open window looked out upon the front yard and below the window near the house was the old well.
One evening the men, returning from the field, halted to slake their thirst at the well, the up-coming of the old oaken bucket brought from its depths a half-knit woolen sock and a ball of yarn. A strand of yarn reaching to the window above told the story.
Later, a turkey wing, used as a fan in summer and to furnish wind for an obdurate wood fire in winter, was found limply swimming in the bucket. Indeed, for days thereafter, divers articles, missed from the big, front room, accompanied the bucket on its return trips. When one of grandpap's well-worn Sunday boots was brought to the surface, it was believed that the last of the missing articles from the big room had been recovered. However, the disappearance of grandma's little mantelpiece clock was never explained.
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Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy stopped their old mare in front of the house and in chorus shouted "Hello!" as was the custom of neighbors passing on their way to or from town. The whole family, including "Al-f-u-r-d," betook themselves to the roadside to gossip. "Al-f-u-r-d," busy as usual, clambered up over the muddy wheels into the vehicle. He was praised by uncle and aunt for his obedience, and promised candy when they returned from town. Clambering down he missed his footing and narrowly escaped being trampled upon by the old mare who was vigorously stamping and swishing her tail to keep off the flies.
Dragged from under the buggy he was soon out of the minds of the gossiping group, curiosity drew him to the old well. Circling it at a respectful distance, he said:
"Naughty ole well, don't thry to coax me 'caus I won't play with you, nor look down in you never no more. There!"
Passing to the side farthest from the unsuspecting guards, the handle of the windlass was within his reach. Instinctively the desire seized him to lower the bucket, pulling out the ratchet that held it, the old oaken bucket began its unimpeded descent. Slowly at first, gaining momentum with each revolution of the windlass, down it fell, bumping against the sides of the well, chain clanging and windlass whirring. It struck the bottom with a splash that re-echoed, followed by a woman's scream so piercing that the old mare started forward.
It flashed on the minds of all that at last their predictions were verified. It was all up with "Al-f-u-r-d." They pictured him falling, falling—down, down—his bruised, bleeding body sinking to the bottomless depths of the old well.
Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy
Uncle Joe's feet caught in the handle of a market basket as he leaped from the buggy and the greater number of his dozens of fresh eggs reached the roadside a scrambled mass. The women guards gave vent to a series of screams that brought the men hurrying from the fields.
"Al-f-r-u-d" was found, limp and apparently lifeless, his head tucked under his body, clothes over his head, exposing the larger part of his anatomy—a pitiable lump, lying in the sandy path twenty feet from the well. The handle of the windlass had caught him across the shoulders, sending him flying through the air. For days thereafter "Al-f-u-r-d" was swathed in bandages and bathed with liniments; for a time, at least, the family was free from the cares of guarding the old well.
The old well has given way to a modern pump, the old house has been remodeled, but the impressions herein recorded are as clear to the memory of the man today as they were to the child of that long ago.
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Trouble comes night and day, In this world unheedin', But there's light to find the way— That is all we're needin'.
"Al-f-u-r-d-!" "Al-f-u-r-d!" Al-f-u-r-d!"
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Town life had not diminished the volume of Malinda Linn's voice. It was far-reaching as ever. Malinda was familiarly called "Lin"—in print the name looks unnatural and Chinese-like. Lin Linn was about the whole works in the family. Her duties were calling, seeking and changing the apparel of "Al-f-u-r-d", duties she discharged with a mixture of scoldings and caresses.
When the family moved to town to live, Lin became impressed with the propriety of bestowing the full baptismal name upon the First Born, and to his open-eyed wonderment, he was addressed as "Alfred Griffith." But when Lin called him from afar—and she usually had to call him, and then go after him—it was always "Al-f-u-r-d!"
A bunch of misery, pale and limp, was lying in the family garden between two rows of tomato vines, the earth about him disturbed from his intermittent spasms. A big, greenish, yellowish worm was crawling over his head, his tow-like hair whiter by contrast; upon his forehead great drops of perspiration.
He heard Lin's calls but could not answer. He half opened his eyes as she approached him. Berating him roundly for hiding from her, bending over him, the pallor of his face frightened her. Her screams would have abashed a Camanche Indian. Tenderly taking up the almost unconscious boy, she hastened toward the house, frightened members of the family and several nearby neighbors attracted by her screams.
Crowded around "Al-f-u-r-d" all busied themselves in assisting in placing him in bed. His hands were rubbed, his brow bathed, the air about agitated with a big palm-leaf fan while the doctor was summoned.
When the family doctor arrived "Al-f-u-r-d's" shirt-waist was opened in front and a big, greenish, yellowish worm fell to the floor. This, and that sickening smell of green tomato vines, assisted the good doctor in his diagnosis. To know the disease is the beginning of the cure. Hot water and mustard administered in The First Cigar copious draughts, the little rebellious stomach, made more so by this treatment, began sending up returns. Thus was relieved "the worst case of tomato poisoning that had, up to that time, come under the doctor's observation."
At that time the tomato had not long been an edible. Indeed many persons refused to consider them as such, growing them for merely ornamental purposes, displaying them on mantels and window sills. Tomatoes were commonly called "Jerusalem" or "Love Apples." On this occasion the doctor dilated at length on its past bad reputation and the lurking poison contained in vine and fruit.
The blinds were lowered and Alfred slept. The nurses tiptoed from the room, to return, tip-toeing to the bed to see how he was resting, then returning to the kitchen to advise the anxious ones there that he was resting easy.
Poor Lin was "near distracted" no sooner was it announced that "Al-f-u-r-d" was out of danger than she began gathering the "green tomattisus" lying in irregular rows on various window sills to ripen in the sun, giving vent to her pent-up "feelings" thus:
"Huh! Tomattisus! Never was made to eat. They ain't no good, no-way. Pap's right. They're called Jerusalem apples 'caus they wuz first planted by the Jews, who knowed their enemies would eat 'em an' git pizened an' die of cancers, an' Lord knows what else."
She carried the offending fruit to the family swill barrel, where the leavings of the table were deposited. As she raised one big tomato to drop it into the barrel, her hand paused, as she soliloquized:
"No, If tomattisus will pizen pee-pul, they'll pizen hogs. They ain't fit for hogs nohow. They ain't fit fer nuthin' but heathens an' sich like, as oughter be pizened."
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Turning to one of several neighbors, whose looks de noted disapproval of wilful waste, she benevolently emptied the tomatoes into the woman's upheld apron, remarking:
"Lordy. Yer welcome to 'em if yer folks like 'em an' ain't carin' much when they die. Take 'em. Ye kin have 'em an' welcome."
While the father was yanking the noxious tomato plants out by the roots and sprinkling the ground with lime, "Al-f-u-r-d" began showing symptoms of returning life. After the nurses had tiptoed from the room, supposedly leaving him in deep slumber, he threw back the linen sheets and slid from the bed on the side farthest from the open door leading to the kitchen. Cautiously creeping to where lay his trousers—inserting a hand in the deep pocket, which had been put in by Lin by special request—he drew out two long, dark, worm-like objects, holding them at arm's length gagging anew at even the sight of them. Staggering to the cupboard dropping them into a box half filled with similar worm-like objects, he staggered back to bed as quickly as his weakened condition would permit, suppressing another upheaval of his stomach with greatest effort.
Notwithstanding the objects mentioned were Ed. Hurd's best three-for-a-cent stogies, and "Al-f-u-r-d" had smoked less than four of the six inches of one of the big, black cigars, the stub of which he had buried near the spot where Lin found him, it was several days before he took kindly to food, or, as was generally supposed, had wholly thrown off the baneful effects of the tomato poisoning.
While convalescing, afternoon walks were taken near home, circling the Episcopal Church, back through the old, green graveyard, or a little lower down the hill where the village boys could be seen and heard swimming and splashing in the river. To take part in this sport, to get to the river, to plunge into its cooling depths, "Al-f-u-r-d" had a soul-yearning, even more powerful than that of the old well. But he had been sworn, bribed, placed upon his honor and threatened with dire tortures, should he even venture nearer the river than the top of the hill.
The yearning would not down. It grew in intensity. He would stand on the front rail of his trundle bed, night and morning, with arms extended above him, palms together, to dive, to split the imaginary water, take a header into the soft, downy tick; then thresh his arms about in swimming fashion as he had seen the big boys cavort in the river.
Nearer and nearer to the river his newest allurement carried him, until one day he found himself on a strange path leading into a large yard in which stood a neat, white house, with green blinds. Purling at his feet, bubbling from an invisible source, was a brook of clear, cold water. Very cold it felt to his bare feet as he waded up and down over it's sandy, pebbly bed, the water reaching barely to his ankles. Wading nearer to the fountain head, the depth gradually increased. Here was young hopeful's long-sought-for opportunity to dive, swim and otherwise disport himself as did the big boys. Off came pantalets, waist and undercoverings, through the pure, cold water he waded. With teeth chattering and flesh quivering, holding his hands above his head, under he went.
He was having the time of his life, and so busy was he at it that his attention was not attracted by the opening of a door in the nearby white house and the sudden appearance of an elderly, grim-looking woman behind a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles; brandishing a long, swinging buggy whip, with broad, bright bands here and there along its length. Rushing toward the boy, she angrily shouted:
"You little scamp, I'll skin ye alive!"
"Al-f-u-r-d," with a cry, bounded from the water, grabbed for his clothes, missed them, and started on a race at a pace that left no doubt as to the winner. A big dog and another elderly woman—the counterpart of her-behind-the-spectacles—joined in the chase, the dog's deep bays greatly accelerating the already beat-all-record-time of the terrified "Al-f-u-r-d."
As he neared the parental roof, he let out a series of yells with "Mother!" "Lin!" "Help!" "Murder!" sandwiched between. The nearer he drew, the louder the yelps, for he knew he would need sympathy, even though the gold-rimmed glasses and the other elderly pursuer had been distanced by many lengths.
Lin said when she first heard the screams, she "thought it was only the old crazy woman under the hill havin' another spell. But when they come gittin' nearer an' nearer, she knew it was "Al-f-u-r-d" an' somethin' turrible had happened." It was then Lin, mother and several neighboring females rushed to the front door as "Al-f-u-r-d" flew in at the gate, up the path and into his mother's outstretched arms, endeavoring to pull her apron about his nudity.
"Where's your clothes?" demanded the frightened mother. "Where are they?" "Who took them off you?"
"She did! She did!" howled "Al-f-u-r-d," jerking his head toward the gate, just as the elderly woman behind the spectacles entered. Trembling with fear she began to explain and apologize to Lin and the mother, frequently turning to "Al-f-u-r-d" to entreat him to come to her, assuring him that he need not fear her. But the big buggy whip, with the silver bands, dangled above his head and the more she entreated the louder his yells and the further he forced himself into his mother's garments.
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She Did! She Did!
Lin grabbed his clothes from the spectacled lady be rating both soundly, giving them but little opportunity to explain. Others joined in the wordy attack, much to the elderly woman's confusion and shame. The fact that they were old maids, living alone and associating with but few of their neighbors, lent bitterness to the invectives hurled at them, the climax was reached with a parting shot from Lin:
"Drat ye!" she exclaimed, "if ye had yungins of yer own—which is lucky for 'em that ye haven't —ye'd have some hearts in yer withered old frames."
The spectacled maiden, apparently more frightened than the other, began to feel what a monster she was, what an awful crime she had committed, following an embarrassing pause, the effect of Lin's final shot, mother again demanded the cause of "Al-f-u-r-d's" nudity.
"I s'pose I ought to have pulled down the blinds," she began apologetically, "and let him have his swim out. Likely it wouldn't have hurt the spring much. Still a body doesn't like to drink water out of a spring that a boy's been swimmin' in, no matter if his folks are clean about their house-keeping."
She was certainly sorry and so anxious to caress "Al-f-u-r-d" that she and the mother made it up, then and there, and many an afternoon thereafter did the two spend together bemoaning the evil spirit that had prompted the boy to make a swimming hole of the family spring.
Kindly invitations nor the promise of sponge cake e ver induced "Al-f-u-r-d" to again visit the grounds, or the white house with green blinds, a buggy whip with silver bands on it, a big dog and two old maids who, according to Lin, "didn't know nuthin' 'bout children."
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In the heydey of youth He was awfully green, As verdant in truth As you have ever seen; But he soon learned to know beans So it seems.
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"There's shorely sumthin' 'bout water that bewitches that boy," often remarked Lin. "I never seen the like of it. I'll bet anything he'll be a Baptis' preacher some day, jes' like Billy Hickman."
There never was a boyin Brownsville whose heart does not beat a little faster, whose reared
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breath does not come a little quicker, whose cheeks do not turn a little redder when his mind goes back to the old swimming place near Johnson's saw-mill, where the big rafts of lumber were moored seemingly for the pleasure and convenience of every boy in town. The big boys had their spring-boards for diving on the outside where the current was swifter, the water deeper, the little ones their mud slides and boards to paddle about and float on in the shallow, still water between the rafts and the bank.
There may have been factions and social distinctions as between the inhabitants of the little town when garbed and groomed, but in the nudity of the old swimming place there was a common level, and all met on an equal footing.
James G. Blaine, Philander C. Knox, Professor John Brashear and many others, who have climbed the ladder of Fame, were boys among boys in this old swimming hole. It was here they were given their first lessons in courage and self-reliance.
A balmy afternoon in late June the boys of the town were in swimming; "Al-f-u-r-d" could plainly hear their shouts of glee as he sat in the front yard at home. How he longed to participate in their sports. What wouldn't he give to be free like other boys? Was there ever a boy who did not feel that he was imposed upon, who did not imagine he was abused above all others? Such was the feeling of "Al-f-u-r-d".
He had been subjected to a scrubbing. Lin had unmercifully bored into his ears with a towel shaped like a gimlet at one corner, assuring his mother he was "dirtier 'an the dirtiest coal digger in town." He was arrayed in a clean gingham suit, topped with an emaculate white shirt, flowing collar and straw hat. Lin spent a long time in curling his hair despite protests. Those curls were "Al-f-u-r-d's" abomination. The more he abominated them the longer they grew. They reached down to the middle of his back. Arranged in a semi-circle, extending from temple to temple, they made his head appear so abnormally large his slender body seemed scarcely able to support it. He seemed top-heavy with his long curls.
"Al-f-u-r-d" was to go alone to grandfather's and escort him home to dinner. There was to be company, and Lin was determined that "Al-f-u-r-d" and his curls should appear at their best.
The road of life starts the same for all of God's children. The innocent babe, fresh fallen from heaven to blossom on earth, sees nothing but the beautiful at the beginning of the journey. The road is strewn with flowers and it is only when the prick of the thorn is felt that one realizes one is on the wrong road.
For just one short block "Al-f-u-r-d," on the occasion referred to, traversed the right road. There the right road turned abruptly to the left. There was no road "straight ahead," but the river was there. The sound of boys' voices shouting in high glee came floating up from the old swimming place. School had let out and every boy in town was in swimming. "Al-f-u-r-d" blazed a new trail to the river. Climbing over the paling fence surrounding the burying ground, through back yards, descending the steep hill, he found himself standing on the bank of the river gazing at a spectacle that stirred his young blood— half a hundred nude boys diving, splashing, swimming and shouting were in the river below.
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The New Boy in Town
His appearance was greeted with yells and laughter. He was a "new boy" in town. "Al-f-u-r-d" was abashed by the reception accorded him. Of all the howling horde in the water below there was but one familiar face, that of Cousin Charley.
"Take off your curls and come on in, Sissy," shouted one of the swimmers. A dozen of them assured "Al-f-u-r-d" the water was "jest bully." Entreaties of "Come on in," came from dozens of boys. Advice of all kinds came from others.
The reference to the curls made "Al-f-u-r-d" wince. He had long felt that those curls were the one great impediment in his life—the one something that made him the butt of the jokes and gibes of other boys. He hated those curls. His first swimming experience doubly intensified his hatred for curls.
Evening was drawing near. The big yellow sun had dropped behind Krepp's Knob, the shadows of the hills almost reached across the ruffled surface of the river. The river bottoms at the base of the hills, with their waving grasses and tassled corn, extending beyond the bend in the river opposite Albany, the old wooden bridge farther up the river, the high hills behind him, presented a scene of beauty all of which was lost upon "Al-f-u-r-d." The boys in the river held him entranced. He was absorbed in the scene, and, for the moment, he even forgot his curls.
Writers frequently refer to the Monongahela River as "murky"—but where's the boy who ever basked in its cooling waves who will not qualify the statement that its waters are the clearest, its depths the most delightful, its ripples the softest and its shores the smoothest?
Jimmy Edmiston intimated to the writer that the Monongahela was only clear during a "Cheat River Rise." (Cheat is the name of a small stream of Virg inia emptying into the Monongahela above Brownsville. Its waters are never muddy, no matter how heavy or protracted the rains along its course. When the Cheat River pours its transparent flood into the Monongahela the latter rises without riling. Hence the expression: "Cheat River rise.")
Jimmy has so long lived away from Brownsville that his memory is defective. Associated with the muddy Missouri he labors under the delusion that all rivers are muddy—even the Monongahela.
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