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The White Crystals By Howard R. Garis Characters: 9874

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The Cardiff stage, next day, took to Syracuse three very much chagrined and disappointed men,-Mr. Ranquist, Mr. Dudley, and their lawyer. They maintained a silence as they climbed aboard the lumbering vehicle, early in the morning, and the usual crowd that gathered to see the stage depart had no words of farewell for the men who had sought to take such an unfair advantage of Mr. Kimball.

"G'lang!" cried Porter Amidown, cracking his whip, and the horses leaped forward with a jingle of harness. It was the last Cardiff saw of the conspirators.

As for the salt well on Mr. Kimball's farm, it turned out better than even Mr. Vanter dared to hope. The brine was of a heavy and saturated quality, and, when evaporated, gave a residue of excellent salt. It compared favorably with the condiment manufactured in Syracuse, which is considered about the best in the world. One day, when Roger and Adrian were at the well, Mr. Vanter told how, in his opinion, the salt springs beneath the surface of the earth came there.

Geologists were agreed, he said, that, thousands of years ago, the whole Onondaga valley was part of an immense sea. This was evidenced by the fossils found in the hills. As the ages passed, there were eruptions and upheavals of the earth's surface. Then the salt water from the sea might have been condensed into solid rocks of salt, or the rock salt away down deep in the earth might have been brought nearer the surface. At any rate, in time, the white crystals were formed in great masses. Then, beneath the surface of the ground, there welled up springs of fresh water, which dissolved, and held in solution, the salt. When the shaft had been sunk on Mr. Kimball's land, Mr. Vanter said, meaning the small hole Mr. Ranquist had bored with his sectional drill, the steel had probably only gone into the thin crust of salt, formed over one of the immense and deep underground springs. He was thus deluded, as was Mr. Vanter himself, into the belief that a mine of rock salt had been discovered.

"Mr. Ranquist must have studied the matter up," said Mr. Vanter, "and he reasoned that there ought to be salt in this section of the country. He found it, but not as he expected. I have no doubt that other farmers in this vicinity will be just as lucky as Mr. Kimball has been, and will strike salt springs on their land."

And so it proved. Urged by the example of their neighbor, many farmers had shafts sunk on their hillsides and, in several cases, especially on land near Mr. Kimball's, valuable springs were come upon. The news soon spread to all parts of the county, and, shortly, Cardiff was overrun with prospectors, and men who wished to buy up all the property and develop the salt wells. The owners, under the advice of Mr. Kimball, consulted with Mr. Vanter, who told them all to be cautious about signing away their rights. Under the guidance of the surveyor, a corporation, called the Pipe Line Salt Company, was formed to work the springs, and pump the brine through big black pipes, into Syracuse, twelve miles away, where the salt water was evaporated, and the resulting crystals purified and sold. For his spring-glade Mr. Kimball received thirty-five thousand dollars and some shares in the new company, which proved very valuable in a short time.

Of all the persons made glad by the discovery of salt in Cardiff, there were none more happy than the two boys, Roger and Adrian. Their part in the transactions was well known, and they were praised on every side.

One day, not long after these events, Roger received a letter by mail that made him want to stand on his head in delight. He raced home from the post-office with the missive half read, and burst into the kitchen, where Mrs. Kimball and Clara were baking bread.

"Hurrah!" he cried. "Father, mother, and baby Edward are coming! They'll be here day after to-morrow. Oh! But won't I be glad to see them!"

"Land sakes!" cried Mrs. Kimball. "Wa'al, now I'm real glad t' hear it. Mussy sakes, Clara! We'll hev t' double this bakin'," and she began to bustle about harder than ever with the salt-rising bread, while Roger ran to tell Adrian the good news.

How the time did drag until Mr. and Mrs. Anderson and the baby arrived on the stage! Roger and Adrian were at the gate to meet them, and Roger hugged his mother so tightly that she said he nearly took her breath, and was as bad as the bear he wrote about, which treed them all in the woods that day.

How good it was to grasp his father's hand again! And to bounce baby Edward high into the air, and hear him crow and shout in delight! Roger didn't know whether he was on his head or his feet in the gladness at seeing his parents after more than six months' absence from them. Mr. and Mrs. Kimball, Adrian, and Clara gave no less enthusiastic greeting to the newcomers, and, altogether, it was a jolly time.

"My, but how brown you are, and how you've grown!"

said Roger's mother to him.

"Wa'al, I calalate he does look a leetle mite more like a boy should than when I fust see him," admitted Mr. Kimball. "He were kinder white-livered 'n' spindlin' then. But come inter th' house er supper'll spile, 'n' I know ye don't want anythin' like thet t' happen, 'specially ef yer appetites is anythin' like mine."

Such a happy meal as it was. Mr. Anderson told how he had, unexpectedly, received a vacation, and had determined to use it in coming to see how his son was getting along. Of course Mrs. Anderson and the baby must come too.

"'N' I hope ye kin all stay a year," said Mr. Kimball, heartily.

Mrs. Kimball was so "flustrated," as she put it, that she hardly knew whether she was passing the bread or the cake. But every one agreed that she did most excellently, and there was so much talking and laughing that nobody seemed to care much whether they ate or not. The day was dying off into a perfect evening. The June sun was sinking down behind the wooded hills. Farmers were returning from their fields, tired but happy. The crickets and tree-toads were beginning their night songs. Darkness was settling down over peaceful Cardiff valley.

"How does it agree with you out here, Roger?" asked Mr. Anderson. "Do you think you would like to stay?"

"Would I?" began Roger. Then he glanced lovingly at his father, mother, and the baby. "I would, if all of you could stay too," he finished.

They had come out on the broad stone porch to sit in the cool twilight.

"We won't know how t' git along 'ithout him," said Mr. Kimball, and then he told all about the salt well, to the secret delight of Mr. Anderson, who felt very proud of his son.

"I'm afraid we'll have to have Roger back soon, however," said the boy's father. "His school principal came to see me the other day, and wanted to know when he was coming home to take up his lessons."

Books and studies, save such as beautiful Mother Nature provided, had been almost forgotten by Roger.

"Wa'al," began Mr. Kimball, "when it comes t' school, I've a sort a' proposition t' make. Ye see, ef it hadn't bin fer Roger, I wouldn't 'a' had any salt spring, 'n' 't ain't no more 'n' common justice thet he should hev a part on it."

"Uncle Bert!" cried Roger.

"Now, young man," interposed Mr. Kimball, good-naturedly, "young folks should be seen 'n' not heard, ye know. 'S I were sayin'," turning to Mr. Anderson, "Roger's got t' hev some sheers in my salt spring. Now I hed thought a' puttin' a certain sum t' his credit in th' bank."

Mr. Anderson made a gesture of dissent.

"Jest wait 'til I git through," said Mr. Kimball. "I ain't give up th' notion yet, but what I want t' say is, I think Roger ought t' use part of it t' go t' college 'ith. That's what I've planned t' do fer Adrian, here, 'cause there ain't nothin' like eddercation fer a boy, er a man either fer thet matter. I didn't hev no chanst when I were young. Hed t' git out 'n' hustle on th' farm when I were ten year old, so I know th' value a' larnin'. 'N' t' college my boy goes, now I'm well enough off t' send him," and Mr. Kimball clapped his hand down on his leg with a report like a small gun.

"I'm sure I don't know how to thank you," began Mr. Anderson. "I-"

"Then jest don't try," broke in Mr. Kimball, very practically. "We'll consider it all settled."

The women folks started to go in the house, while Mr. Kimball and Mr. Anderson walked a little way toward the road. Presently they heard a great shouting.

"What's that?" asked Mr. Anderson.

"Reckon it's th' boys, skylarkin'," replied Mr. Kimball. "They're allers up t' suthin' er other."

The men walked over toward the sounds, which were evidently of mirth. There, under the two big cherry trees that stood at the gate, rolling in the sweet grass, were the two cousins; and Roger was sitting astride of Adrian, shouting at the top of his voice:

"I threw him! I threw him! It was a fair fall! Now who's the best wrestler?"

"Yes, but you can't do it again," panted Adrian, as he struggled unsuccessfully to rise.

"Roger throwed him!" cried Mr. Kimball, capering about, almost as much pleased over his nephew's victory as Roger himself was. "So ye throwed him fair, eh? Wa'al, I told ye we'd make a Cardiff boy outen ye, ef ye stayed long 'nuff. By Gum! Throwed him good 'n' proper! Now mebby he'll think some un 'sides him kin rassal."

"Well, well, but that's a big improvement in Roger," said Mr. Anderson, coming up as the boys resumed their feet. "He's twice as strong as when I sent him up here. The air and sunshine of the country have made him what he ought to be-a healthy, sturdy boy."

The lads clenched again, rolling over and over in the long grass. The last vestige of daylight disappeared, the chirping of the crickets became louder, the tree-toads croaked with stronger voices, and it was night in the valley of Cardiff.


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