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   Chapter 19 THE MOTHER.

The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 4583

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Out of the door he went, happy in spite of all the mistakes he had made and of all the contretemps of his provoking misadventure; happy in spite of the threat of arrest for burglary. For nearly a minute August Wehle was happy in that perfect way in which people of quiet tempers are happy--happy without fluster. But before he had passed the gate, he heard a scream and a wild hysterical laugh; he heard a hurrying of feet and saw a moving of lights. He would fain have turned back to find out what the matter was, he had so much of interest in that house, but he remembered that he had been turned out and that he could not go back. The feeling of outlawry mingled its bitterness with the feeling of anxiety. He feared that something had happened to Julia; he lingered and listened. Humphreys came out upon the upper porch and looked sharply up and down the road. August felt instinctively that he was the object of search and slunk into a fence-corner, remembering that he was now a burglar and at the mercy of the man whose face was enough to show him unrelenting.

Presently Humphreys turned and went in, and then August came out of the shadow and hurried away. When he had gone a mile, he heard the hoofs of horses, and again he concealed himself with a cowardly feeling he had never known before. But when he found that it was Jonas, riding one horse and leading another, on his way to bring Dr. Ketchup, the steam-doctor, he ran out.

"Jonas! Jonas! what's the matter? Who's sick? Is it Julia?"

"I'll be bound you ax fer Jule first, my much-respected comrade. But it's only one of the ole woman's conniption fits, and you know she's got nineteen lives. People of the catamount sort always has. You'd better gin a thought to yourself now. I got you into this scrape, and I mean to see you out, as the dog said to the 'possum in its hole. Git up onto this four-legged quadruped and go as fur as I go on the road to peace and safety. Now, I tell you what, the hawk's got a mighty good purchase onto you, my chicken, and he's jest about to light, and when he lights, look out fer feathers! Don't sleep under the paternal shingles, as they say. Go to Andrew's castle, and he'll help you git acrost the river into the glorious State of ole Kaintuck afore any warrant can be got out fe

r takin' you up. Never once thought of your bein' took up. But don't delay, as the preachers say. The time is short, and the human heart is desperately wicked and mighty deceitful and onsartain."

As far as Jonas traveled his way, he carried August upon the gray horse. Then the latter hurried across the fields to his father's cabin. Little Wilhelmina sat with face against the window waiting his return.

"Where did you go, August? Did you see the pretty girl at Anderson's?"

He stooped and kissed her, but, without speaking a word to her, he went over to where his mother sat darning the last of her basket of stockings. All the rest were asleep, and having assured himself of this, he drew up a low chair and leaned his elbow on his knee and hi head on his hand, and told the whole adventure of the evening to his mother, and then dropped his head on her lap and wept in a still way. And the sweet-eyed, weary Moravian mother laid her two hands upon his head and prayed. And Wilhelmina knelt instinctively by the side of her brother.

THE MOTHER'S BLESSING.

Perhaps there is no God. Or perhaps He is so great that our praying has no effect. Perhaps this strong crying of our hearts to Him in our extremity is no witness of his readiness to hear. Let him live in doubt who can. Let me believe that the tender mother-heart and the loving sister-heart in that little cabin did reach up to the great Heart that is over us all in Fatherly love, did find a real comfort for themselves, and did bring a strength-giving and sanctifying something upon the head of the young man, who straightway rose up refreshed, and departed out into the night, leaving behind him mother and sister straining their eyes after him in the blackness, and carrying with him thoughts and memories, and--who shall doubt?--a genuine heavenly inspiration that saved him in the trials in which we shall next meet him.

At two o'clock that night August Wehle stood upon the shore of the Ohio in company with Andrew Anderson, the Backwoods Philosopher. Andrew waved a fire-brand at the steamboat "Isaac Shelby," which was coming round the bend. And the captain tapped his bell three times and stopped his engines. Then the yawl took the two men aboard, and two days afterward Andrew came back alone.

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