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   Chapter 30 ONE SNOWY MIDNIGHT

Hiram the Young Farmer By Burbank L. Todd Characters: 7174

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


The fun went on after that with more moderation, and everybody had a pleasant time. That is, so supposed Hiram Strong until, in going out of the barn again to get a breath of cool air after one of the dances, he almost stumbled over a figure hiding in a corner, and crying.

"Why, Sister!" he cried, taking the girl by the shoulders, and turning her about. "What's the matter?"

"Oh, I want to go home, Hi. This isn't any place for me. Let me-me run-run home!" she sobbed.

"I guess not! Who's bothered you? Has that Pete Dickerson come back?"

"No!" sobbed Sister.

"What is it, then?"

"They-they don't want me here. They don't like me."

"Who don't?" demanded Hiram, sternly.

"Those-those girls from St. Beris. I-I tried to dance, and I slipped on some of that horrid soap and-and fell down. And they said I was clumsy. And one said:

"'Oh, all these country girls are like that. I don't see what Let wanted them here for.'

"'So't we could all show off better,' said another, laughing some more.

"And I guess that's right enough," finished Sister. "They don't want me here. Only to make fun of. And I wish I hadn't come."

Hiram was smitten dumb for a moment. He had danced once with Lettie, but the other town girls had given him no opportunity to do so. And it was plain that Lettie's school friends preferred the few boys who had come up from town to any of the farmers' sons who had come to the husking.

"I guess you're right, Sister. They don't want us-much," admitted Hiram, slowly.

"Then let's both go home," said Sister, sadly.

"No. That wouldn't be serving Mr. Bronson-or Lettie-right. We were invited in good faith, I reckon, and the Bronsons haven't done anything to offend us.

"But you and I'll go back there and dance together. You dance with me-or with Henry; and I'll stick to the country girls. If Lettie Bronson's friends from boarding school think they are so much better than us folks out here in the country, let us show them that we can have a good time without them."

"Oh, I'll go back with you, Hiram," cried Sister, gladly, and the young fellow was a bit conscience-stricken as he noted her changed tone and saw the sparkle that came into her eye.

Had he neglected Sister because Lettie Bronson was about? Well! perhaps he had. But he made up for it with the attention he paid to Sister during the remainder of the evening.

They went home early, however, and Hiram felt somewhat grave after the corn husking. Had Lettie Bronson invited the country-bred young folk living about her father's home, to meet her boarding school friends, and the town boys, merely that the latter might be compared with the farmer-folk to their disfavor?

He could not believe that-really. Lettie Bronson might be thoughtless, and a little proud; but she was still a princess to Hiram, and he could not think this evil of her.

But there were too many duties every day for the young farmer to give much thought to such problems. Harvesting was not complete yet, and soon flurries of snow began to drive across the fields and threaten the approach of winter.

Finally the wind came out of the northwest for more than a day, and toward evening the flakes began to fall, faster and faster, thicker and thicker.

"It's going to be a snowy night-a real baby blizzard," declared Hiram, stamping his feet on the porch before coming into the warm kitchen with the milkpail.

"Oh, dear! And I thought you'd go over to Pollock's with me to-night, Hi," said Sister.

"Mabel an' I are goin' to make our Christmas presents together, an

d she's expecting me."

"Shucks! 'Twon't be fit for a girl to go out if it snows," said Mother Atterson.

But Hiram saw that Sister was much disappointed, and he had tried to be kinder to her since that night of the corn husking.

"What's a little snow?" he demanded, laughing. "Bundle up good, Sister, and I'll go over with you. I want to see Henry, anyway."

"Crazy young'uns," observed Mother Atterson. But she made no real objection. Whatever Hiram said was right, in the old lady's eyes.

They tramped through the snowy fields with a lantern, and found it half-knee deep in some drifts before they arrived at the Pollocks, short as had been the duration of the fall.

But they were welcomed vociferously at the neighbor's; preparations were made for a long evening's fun; for with the snow coming down so steadily there would be little work done out of doors the following day, so the family need not seek their beds early.

The Pollock children had made a good store of nuts, like the squirrels; and there was plenty of corn to pop, and molasses for candy, or corn-balls, and red apples to roast, and sweet cider from the casks in the cellar.

The older girls retired to a corner of the wide hearth with their work-boxes, and Hiram and Henry worked out several problems regarding the latter's eleven-week course at the agricultural college, which would begin the following week; while the young ones played games until they fell fast asleep in odd corners of the big kitchen.

It was nearly midnight, indeed, when Hiram and Sister started home. And it was still snowing, and snowing heavily.

"We'll have to get all the plows out to-morrow morning!" Henry shouted after them from the porch.

And it was no easy matter to wade home through the heavy drifts.

"I never could have done it without you, Hi," declared the girl, when she finally floundered onto the Atterson porch, panting and laughing.

"I'll take a look around the barns before I come in," remarked the careful young farmer.

This was a duty he never neglected, no matter how late he went to bed, nor how tired he was. Half way to the barn he halted. A light was waving wildly by the Dickerson back door.

It was a lantern, and Hiram knew that it was being whirled around and around somebody's head. He thought he heard, too, a shouting through the falling snow.

"Something's wrong over yonder," thought the young farmer.

He hesitated but for a moment. He had never stepped upon the Dickerson place, nor spoken to Sam Dickerson since the trouble about the turkeys. The lantern continued to swing. Eagerly as the snow came down, it could not blind Hiram to the waving light.

"I've got to see about this," he muttered, and started as fast as he could go through the drifts, across the fields.

Soon he heard the voice shouting. It was Sam Dickerson. And he evidently had been shouting to Hiram, seeing his lantern in the distance.

"Help, Strong! Help!" he called.

"What is it, man?" demanded Hiram, climbing the last pair of bars and struggling through the drifts in the dooryard.

"Will you take my horse and go for the doctor? I don't know where Pete is-down to Cale Schell's, I expect."

"What's the matter, Mr. Dickerson?"

"Sarah's fell down the bark stairs-fell backward. Struck her head an' ain't spoke since. Will you go, Mr. Strong?"

"Certainly. Which horse will I take?"

"The bay's saddled-under the shed-get any doctor-I don't care which one. But get him here."

"I will, Mr. Dickerson. Leave it to me," promised Hiram, and ran to the shed at once.

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