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   Chapter 40 SELLING OUT.

The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 5781

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The flight of the Hawk did not long dampen the ardor of those who were looking for signs in the heaven above and the earth beneath. I have known a school-master to stand, switch in hand, and give a stubborn boy a definite number of minutes to yield. The boy who would not have submitted on account of any amount of punishment, was subdued by the awful waiting. We have all read the old school-book story of the prison-warden who brought a mob of criminals to subjection by the same process. Millerism produced some such effect as this. The assured belief of the believers had a great effect on others; the dreadful drawing on of the set time day by day produced an effect in some regions absolutely awful. An eminent divine, at that time a pastor in Boston, has told me that the leaven of Adventism permeated all religious bodies, and that he himself could not avoid the fearful sense of waiting for some catastrophe--the impression that all this expectation of people must have some significance. If this was the effect in Boston, imagine the effect in a country neighborhood like Clark township. Andrew, skeptical as he was visionary, was almost the only man that escaped the infection. Jonas would have been as frankly irreverent if the day of doom had come as he was at all times; but even Jonas had come to the conclusion that "somethin' would happen, or else somethin' else." August, with a young man's impressibility, was awe-stricken with thoughts of the nearing end of the world, and Julia accepted it as settled.

It is a good thing that the invisible world is so thoroughly shut out from this. The effect of too vivid a conception of it is never wholesome. It was pernicious in the middle age, and clairvoyance and spirit-rapping would be great evils to the world, if it were not that the spirits, even of-the ablest men, in losing their bodies seem to lose their wits. It is well that it is so, for if Washington Irving dictated to a medium accounts of the other world in a style such as that of his "Little Britain," for instance, we should lose all interest in the affairs of this sphere, and nobody would buy our novels.

This fever of excitement kept alive Samuel Anderson's determination to sell his farms for a trifle as a testimony to unbelievers. He found that fifty dollars would meet his expenses until the eleventh of August, and so the price was set at that.

As soon as Andrew heard of this, he privately arranged with Jonas to buy it; but Mrs. Anderson utterly refused. She said she could see through it all. Jonas was one of Andrew's fingers. Andrew had got to be a sort of a king in Clark township, and Jonas was--was the king's fool. She did not mean that any of her property should go into the hands of the clique that were trying to rob her of her property and her daughter. Even for two weeks they should not own her house!

Before this speech was en

ded, Bob Walker entered the door.

Bob was tall, stooped, good-natured, and desperately poor. With ton children under twelve years of age, with an incorrigible fondness for loafing and telling funny stories, Bob saw no chance to improve his condition. A man may be either honest or lazy and got rich; but a man who Is both honest and indolent is doomed. Bob lived in a cabin on the Anderson farm, and when not hired by Samuel Anderson he did days' work here and there, riding to and from his labor on a raw-boned mare, that was the laughing-stock of the county. Bob pathetically called her Splinter-shin, and he always rode bareback, for the very good reason that he had neither saddle nor sheepskin.

"I WANT TO BUY YOUR PLACE."

"Mr. Anderson," said Bob, standing in the door and trying to straighten the chronic stoop out of his shoulders, "I want to buy your place."

If Bob had said that he wanted to be elected president Samuel Anderson could not have been more surprised.

"You look astonished; but folks don't know everything. I 'low I know how to lay by a little. But I never could git enough to buy a decent kind of a tater-patch. So I says to my ole woman this mornin', 'Jane,' says I, 'let's git some ground. Let's buy out Mr. Anderson, and see how it'll feel to be rich fer a few days. If she all burns up, let her burn, I say. We've had a plaguey hard time of it, let's see how it goes to own two farms fer awhile.' And so we thought we'd ruther hev the farms fer two weeks than a little money in a ole stocking. What d'ye say?"

Jonas here put in that he didn't see why they mightn't sell to him as well as to Bob Walker. Cynthy Ann had worked fer Mrs. Anderson fer years, and him and Cynthy was a-goin' to be one man soon. Why not sell to them?

"Because selling to you is selling to Andrew," said Mrs. Abigail, in a conclusive way.

And so Bob got the farms, possession to be given after the fourteenth of August, thus giving the day of doom three days of grace. And Bob rode round the county boasting that he was as rich a man as there was in Clark Township. And Jonas declared that ef the eend did come in the month of August, Abigail would find some onsettled bills agin her fer cheatin' the brother outen the inheritance. And Clark Township agreed with him.

August was secretly pleased that one obstacle to his marriage was gone. If Andrew should prove right, and the world should outlast the middle of August, there would be nothing dishonorable in his marrying a girl that would have nothing to sacrifice.

Andrew, for his part, gave vent to his feelings, as usual, by two or three bitter remarks leveled at the whole human race, though nowadays he was inclined to make exceptions in favor of several people, of whom Julia stood first. She was a woman of the old-fashioned kind, he said, fit to go alongside Héloise or Chaucer's Grisilde.

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