Charles D. (Charles David) Stewart.

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In the Sand-house







Copyright, 1905, by
The Century Co.

Published February, 1905

Printed in the United States by
The DeVinne Press, N. Y.





HE Finerty household, like all
Gaul, was divided into three
parts : the kitchen, the * ^ middle
room, ' ' and the parlor.

As Mrs. Finerty used to say,
'^We have two rooms to live
in, an' wan for Michael. 'T is a pity that
MAN ''—and she would say it as if she were
emphasizing the whole human race— **w'u'd
not lave things th' way God thried to have
thim, an' not be invintin' locomotives to be
kapin' all kinds av hours. We 're atin' an'
shlapin' from hand to mouth; an' 't is little
I hear av Michael's voice but whin he shnores.
But sometimes I shtop in me worruk an' think
how thankful I ought to be to hear that; for
wid him always laid out in th' dark parlor, 't is
th' only thing that kapes him from bein' dead
to his family intirely."

The sacred parlor seldom had its green


blinds raised, for it was here that Michael re-
posed in da j'time darkness. Had it not thus
Ihepn -ti^^d, ;ttie 'parlor, it is safe to say, would
never Have been invaded except on rare com-
pany occasions. So Michael was laid by in it
as an entirely ^^ out-of-the-way '^ place. It was
chilly and still, as befitted its household alti-
tude ; and, principal among its grandeurs, there
looked down from the wall over Michael's bed
a framed relic of preserved flowers, and a cher-
ished coffin-plate in a sort of show-case picture-
frame. And the coffin-plate, as if in continual
reference to the sleeping Michael, hung over
him with the one word ^ ^ Rest. ' '

Finerty, as night keeper of the sand-house
and coal-chutes in the Memphis ^^ yards,'' was
called foreman, although, as he explained, ^^I
do all th' worruk mesilf." But there had to
be some title for a man who put his official
signature in lead-pencil on the tickets that
showed how much coal and sand each engi-
neer had taken. This clerical phase of his
labors with the shovel was what made him a
* * raysponsible man," and as strict and vigi-
lant an official as could be wished for.

As Finerty used to explain whenever a visi-
tor was shown inside the sand-house, * * 'T is
f'r th' hoomps on th' backs av locomotives.


Ye see, ^ ' lie would continue, demonstrating the
matter on two fingers, ^^ there are two hoomps
on th' back av a locomotive. Th^ wan is for
dry shteam an^ th' other is for dry sand. An'
if ye don't belave it about th' dry shteam ye
can ask Halloran, that has run on th' division
for twinty year, an' he '11 tell ye 'tis thrue.
But there 's no wan iver saw ginooine
shteam; f 'r whin ye can see it 't is not shteam,
an' 't is no good. An' so they have th' hoomp
on top av th' biler where th' gassy shteam will
rise intil. An' th' pipe gets it there, shkimmin'
th' cream off th' top like. An' th' other hoomp
is where th' pipe gets th' sand that it shpills
down on th ' rails on a shlippery day. 'T is
that way a locomotive goes.''

And frequently he would add, pointing him-
self out with the demonstrative finger, **Aii'
't is me that pits th' sand into thim."

One spring day Mrs. Finerty applied her
ear frequently to the keyhole, and each time
announced to Agnes, *^Yer father is shnorin'.
I do hope, ' ' she said, ' ^ that yer fa-a-ather will
wake up airly enough to tell me th' news— if
ther' he's anny."

That was Mrs. Finerty 's day for the weekly
baking; and early in the afternoon, when she
had her bread and biscuit to the right point of


lightness, she again began her struggle with
the fire, which persisted in burning only at one

While she was so employed, Michael awoke
and came out into the kitchen, his suspenders
draping his trousers and the sleeves of his red
undershirt rolled up to his elbows. Having
looked sleepily at the clock, he sat down on the
step that descended from the middle room to
the kitchen, with his elbows on his knees, blink-
ing at the daylight and waiting for his senses
to gather themselves together.

When Mrs. Finerty had patted a potato
pancake into shape, and given the stove an
admonitory punching with the poker, she
turned her attention to her spouse.

*'Why don't ye shpeak! Why don't ye be
tellin' me what ye were doin' yestherday af-
thernoon ? ' '

He had risen early the day before to go
across the Mississippi and see Mary Ann and
her cousin on the ^^widdy's farm,'' for Mary
had a letter from ' ' acrost th ' wather. ' '

**Did ye see Mary Ann!" Mrs. Finerty

'*I did not. She was away. But I saw her
cousin, an' I saw no wan but him, an' I wint
nowhere. ' '


**An' what were ye doin'l"

**I was mindin' th' farm. An' I w'u'd want
to be no farmer. 'T is too dangerous. I nearly
had a wreck.''

^*A wreck!'' she exclaimed. **How w'u'd
ye have a wreck on a farm ? ' '

*^'T is not annything ye w'u'd undher-
shtand. ' '

*^I w'u'd be listenin' to it, annyway."

'*Well, befure Jawn wint away, he shtarted
to explain about th' throttle av th' plow. ^ Ye
don't need to be delayin' yersilf showin' me
annything about that, ' says I ; ' for 't is little I
don't know about a throttle, an' me worrukin'
twinty year on th' railroad. I know that all;
an' whin ye throw it till th ' last notch here, 't is
turned off; an' whin ye throw it till th' last
notch there, 't is turned on. But ye might be
inthrojoocin' me to th' four cows,' says I;
*for, seein' there is no lines nor bridle nor
annything, I 'd want to be knowin ' their names
so that they '11 be mindin' what I tell them to

*' *I will,' says he; ^an' I don't doubt but,
from what ye know, ye '11 be gettin' along all
right. I am only goin' acrost th' river to get
some seed.'

** * Ye need n't be apologizin' at all,' says I,


^an' ye th' cousin av Mary Ann McBride.
For it 's little I w^u'd n^t be doin' for Mary
Ann's cousin/ says I.

*^ ^Well/ says he, ^th' near leader is called
Coaly.' .

** ^D' ye mane th' black runt av a wan to th'
lift side in front/ wid only th' shtoomp av a
taiir says I.

* ' ' Yis, ' says he ; * I got him off a load from
Texas. An' that was all th' coyotes left av his
tail. An' ye '11 soon see that he leans sideways
on th' yoke to be pullin' away from worruk all
th' time he is doin' it; an' that makes it twice
as hard for him, so that he gets blowed. If ye
notice him shwellin' up in th' shtummick, 't is
a sign he is gettin' blowed. An' ye '11 be givin'
him a rest till it goes down a little, ' says he.

*^ *I can raymimber that,' says I.

** *An' th' off leader is named Shpot,' says

** ^Is it th' tall rid-and-white wan that is
parthner av th' little black runtT says I.

<< <Yg 7j.g right,' says he.

**An' he p'inted him out to me wid th' ind av
a shtick. He was a bony old woman av a baste,
all marked over in rid like th' map av a
sthrange counthry, wid gulfs an ' bays in white.
Th' lift side av his face was rid, like ye 'd


think lie had nosed himsilf befure th' map was
dry, an' he got half av Florida on his face.
An' th' rump av him propped his hide out like
th' centher-pole av a tent, he was that thin.

^^ ^D' ye iver let him shtand out in th' vamV
says I.

* ' ^ Why wor ye askin ' 1 ' says he.

*^ ^I 'm thinkin' it w'u'd not do; for th'
basins in th' flanks av him w'u'd be fillin' wid
rain-wather, an' 'tw'u'd be bad f'r his rheu-
matism,' says I.

** *I haven't noticed that it dooes,' says he;
* although ye might think so. Th' shtiff walk is
only his natheral way, from bein' tall an' thin.'

*^ ^I can raymimber he is Shpot, aisy
enough, ' says I.

^' ^An' th' off wheeler is named Nig,' says

** ^ 'T is th' big black wan to th' right behind
that ye mane, ' says I. ^ Nig will be th ' wan wid
th ' right side av his face bigger nor th ' other, '
says I. For ye 'd think some wan had
shlapped him wid th ' thrunk av a three till he
was Roman-nosed on wan side wid th' shwell-
in ' av it.

^^ * 'T is only what 's called a warble,' says
he, 'an' 't is no hurt to him at all. An',' says
he, Hh' other is th' near wheeler, that ye '11 be


handlin^ thim all wid, an' his name is Shquat.
Ye see there is nothin' th' matter wid him.'

'* *He is th' fine, able-bodied wan; an' 't is
a pity ye did n't have thim all like that, so that
they w'u'd match,' says I.

** *They are matched perfect,' says he. *In
th' first place,' says he, puttin' his finger into
th' palm av his hand, ' 't is only because they
are shtandin' on th' level ground; an' they 're
a plow-team, ' says he. With that he geed thim
all over till th ' right-hand wans were shtandin '
down in th' furrow.

*^ *I see,' says I. *They are all out av joint
on th' smooth land, like a fish out av wather.
An' now, wan is no higher than his parthner,
although he is taller. But ye 'd hardly call
thim matched at that ; for they 're av all shapes
an' hefts an' thinnesses— not shpakin' av color.
An' th' wan to th' right behind is not only
taller, but is sthronger-lookin' acrost th' back
nor his parthner.'

** *Ye see,' says he, shtartin' to rattle away,
like th ' catechism av th ' locomotive, ^ how they
were matched for size an ' sthren 'th, f oorward
and back, an' right an' lift, th' way ye 'd have
to take th' side av a shlate to be figurin' it out.'

*' *Do I have to know much av that?' says I,
lookin ' at him wid his fingers matched together


like th' rails av a log fince to be showin' how
mixed up an' perfect it all was.

** ^Ye have only to drive thim an' tind to th'
throttle, ' says he.

** ^Ivery man to his thrade,' says I; *for I
can tind th' throttle. An' it '11 be gee an' haw
for a signal at th' curves, an' they can tind to
th' rist.'

'' 'Ye need not say, *^Gee!" an' ^'Haw!" at
all,' says he; *for th' leaders have been out to
grass an ' are too ignorant to know it. Ye have
only to say ^^wo" at th' ind av th' furrow, an'
th' wheeler will sit down an' hould thim all
back. An' whin he brings thim to a shtop, ye
whip th' leaders round where ye want thim,
for they 're intilligint enough to know that. '

** * 'T is Shquat holds thim back,' says I.

*^ *Yis,' says he; *'tis for that rayson th'
sthrong an ' intilligint wan is put behind on the
land side o' th' furrow. 'T is so that whin he
* * wo 's, " th ' front wans will have to. An ' they
can't be runnin' away, because an ox can hould
back as much as half a dozen can pull.'

<< < 'T w'u'd be no use for th' front wans to
'*wo," wid th' hind wans havin' horns to push
thim wid, ' says I. -

** "T is that exactly; ye '11 have no throuble
at all,' says he.


'^ ^I 'm thinkin' th' wheeler behind is a good
wan at quittin' worruk, an' is always willin' to
do it/ says I.

*^ ^Ye have th' saycrit av th' thrade,' says
he. *He 'd break his neck to shtop thim.'

*' *He is th' foreman av th' gang/ says I.

^* *Now ye have it/ says he.

^^Wid that, he wint away an' lift me. An'
sorra th' day he did.

^^I shtarted thim up, an' they all folleyed
down th' furrow as sthraight an' aisy as if
't was th' way home from worruk. At th' ind
I did what he tould me, an' we crossed over an'
got into th' thrack av th' down furrow back
again. 'T was an aisy thrade to I'arn. An'
't was a long field wid a five-minute thrip
acrost it, an' nothin' to do but sit on th' iron
sate, wid yer hands to yersilf, an' look at th'
scenery. So I lit me pipe an ' sat, wid me hands
on me knees, shmellin' th' fine air and thinkin'
what was in me mind.

*^Back an' foorward we wint, wid no throu-
ble at all, but to raymind the big wan whin we
come to th' fince, an' thin show thim all th'
lift hand wid th' whip. The medlarks was
all folleyin' behind in a sthring, takin' th'
worms from th' sod, like pancakes that I 'd be
turnin' over for their breakfast. An' they


kept that close 't w'u'd surprise ye, to be get-
tin^ th' worms befure they c'u'd shrink up
short into their holes again. All av us med a
procission half a block long, an' 't was no more
worruk than St. Pathrick 's day whin ye 're on
th' committee an' ridin' on a float.

** ^Had I knowed about farmin',' says I to
mesilf, ^I w'u'd niver have Tamed to shovel
sand an' coal at the chutes— an' I 'd niver be
an ingineer that has to look ahead all th' time,
an' bother about shtayin' on th' thrack. For
cows, ' thinks I, ^ are more intilligint nor a horse
or a locomotive.'

**They w'u'd go through th' black land as
aisy as makin' a mark in ashes. An' whin ye
come to a tough place, wid th ' plow a-crunchin '
through th' woven grass, an' th' chain shtiff
as a crowbar, ye w'u'd not know 't was anny
worruk at all, from lookin' at thim. For they
w'u'd nayther lean nor pull, but w'u'd ramble
along like an ould woman out for her health
—an' th' plow comin' afther thim. 'T is that
sthrong they are.

*^An' at th' ind av ivery furrow th' wan
called Shquat w'u'd hear me, an' he w'u'd sit
back an' hould thim like a bulldog that w'u'd
not lave go if ye pulled his head off. I 'm
thinkin' that befure they 'd 'a' dragged him


he 'd 'a' plowed a furrow wid each av his
hoofs, an ' thin he 'd not give in. For they 're
shtill sthronger that way. An' he was like th'
felly said.

**Whin it was they shtarted to run away wid
me I dunno. For they did n't run at all, but
just wint on wid th' same furrow acrost th'
counthry to th' southwest a mile or so, an' thin
east again to th' place they all had in mind to
be spindin' th' afthernoon. I did n't get what
ye might call mad till they had gone a quarther
av a mile or so— an' thim not pretindin' they
noticed me, wid all I c'u'd say or do, but only
lavin' me to me own foolishness. 'T was thin
1 lifted th' plow out av th' ground, to see thim
go fasther. An' they did not. An' 't was thin
I was what ye w'u'd call mad. For they 're not
like horses that has to run away in a hurry
for fear some wan might ask thim to shtop.
'T is a case av ^We know our own minds; an'
what are ye goin' to do about it?' 'T is that
makes ye mad. An' they give ye plenty av
time to show what ye 're good for. An' ye 're
good for nothin'.

**But 't was all like this it kem about. Whilst
I was puttin' a furrow acrost th' field, th'
sthrong wan dropped down on his belly, wid his


legs folded, an' lie throws a swally up his neck
to his month, an' shtarts his jaw to worruk-
in', like takin' a chew. I let thim rest a while,
for th' leader was gettin' blowed up in th'
shtummick, an' I thought I w'u'd not be inther-
ferin' for a while. But whin th' time was up,
I gave th' sthrong wan a dig in th' ribs, an'
says, ^ Get up. We will now be goin' along. '

**He took another swally from th' inside av
him an' shtarted in to be chewin' that up. I
gave him another dig, an' a rap wid th' butt
av th ' whip ; an ' whin I saw that did n 't shcare
him at all I laid it on till him harder. He swal-
lied down his cud again, whin he had it to
suit him, and thin I saw another come up his
throat; an' he shtarted up his jaw as cool as ye
plase. He was kapin' on wid his own worruk.

* * ' Git up, now, ' says I. * Ye can be chewin '
yer breakfast to-night. I worruk nights me-
silf, an' ye are no betther nor I am,' says I.
*We will now be doin' th' plowin'.'

<< 'T was thin I shtarted at him wid th' heel
av me boot. But whilst I w 'u 'd be kickin ' him
at wan ind, he w'u'd kape on chewin' gum, like
me daughther Agnes, an' lookin' about as if
't was fine weather he thought we were havin'
th' day.

**An' whilst I was shtandin' off, thinkin'


how I c'u^d hurt him widout killin' him, his
hind legs shtands up whilst th ' front wans was
shtill layin ' down wid him chewin ' ; an ' thin he
rises up at th^ front ind an' shtands there, like
't was now time for me to tind to me business
again— an' him havin' th' say. So I got on me
sate again an' we shtarted off plowin'.

'*0r mabby 't was thin they were shtarted
to where they were goin' to spind th' day— for
I thought 't was plowin' till we got out av th'
field. Annyway, I gave him a rap wid th' butt-
ind av th' whip an' a taste av th' cracker.

** ^ 'T is always th' way,' says I, 'that an aisy
boss will be imposed upon. An ' 't is that I get
for me good-natured way.' So whin we were
gettin' to th' ind av th' furrow I hammered
him again be way av lettin' him know I had
a mind av me own, an' so that he w'u'd tind to
his houldin ' back whin I 'd say, * Wo ! '

''An' that time he did n't do it at all. Th'
leaders wint on till they run into th' fince; an'
him pullin' an' helpin' along. Whin they
turned they brought th' plow so close they
broke otf a fince-post; an' they kept goin' along
th' fince, wid th' iron axle av th' plow shnap-
pin' off wan post an' thin another. An' on
account av th' barb- wire I c'u'd not get to th'
right side av thim to be shooin' thim back


from it. So I shtood up on th' sate an' jumped
over th' fince, an' I whipped thim away from
there. ^Wo, to thMift!' says I. ^Turn to th'
lift! D' ye think 't is a-reapin' fince-posts I
want ye for T Wid that they med a circle back,
, and thin kem out av th' hole they had med in
th' fince. An' away they plowed acrost th'
land that was no farm at all.

*^'T was thin I saw that th' barb- wire was
caught in th' axle by the wheel an' was ravel-
in' oif th' posts as they wint along. An' I
wint along, hollerin' ^Wo!' into th' sthrong
wan's ear. But he kept on plowin' away to
where he was goin'. Wid that an idee kem
to me at wanst. I w'u'd sink th' plow so deep
't w 'u 'd anchor thim to th ' earth. So I jumped
up on th' sate an' put on th' emergency brake,
throwin' th' throttle over till th' last notch.
An' thin th' plow threw a furrow that ye c'u'd
' 'a' berrid a man in; but divil a bit did they
know it was tied to thim at all. Th' yoke wint
a bit deeper into their bull necks, an' that was
all. An' they kept pokin' on, nayther fasther
nor shlower.

^^Whin I looked back a quarther av a mile, I
c'u'd see th' other ind av th' wire shnappin' off
from post to post an' lettin' us out like th'
sthring av a kite. ^This won't do at all. We '11


be nnwindin' th' whole farm,' says I. *Aii'
I '11 have to be shtoppin' thim.' Wid that I
ran ahead an' shtood wavin' me arms an'
threatenin ' thim back. But they kem sthraight
on, waggin' their horns befure thim; an' I had
to get out av th' way to kape from bein' kilt
an' berrid at wan operation.

**I '11 not be tellin' ye th' whole av it; for
't is n't a thing ye can tell about to some wan
ilse. Whin a horse does it, 't is somethin' to
shpake av ; but what is it whin ye 're dragged
off by a parcel av cows 1 'T is only a walk-out,
an ' not a word av where ye 're goin ' to.

* * Whin I had been mad two or three times I
sat down on me sate ; an ' there were the med-
larks hoppin' along behind an' chirpin' like
ye 'd think I was doin' it all for thim. ^Git
back, ye dom birds; d' ye want to be insultin'
me tooT says I. *Git back to your field an'
mind yer business. ' An ' I cut out at thim wid
th' whip. An' there was th' wire as far back
as ye c'u'd see; an' it thrailin' in th' furrow
like ye 'd think I was layin' a cable.

' ' 'T was an open, level counthry for a while,
wid here an' there a shtump or a hummock, an'
nd sound but th ' tinkle av a cow-bell in th ' dis-
tance an' th' sound av th' grasshopper callin'
to his mate. Whin we were out av sight av


our own land, th^ counthry sloped more till th'
east, wid here an' there a bush or a young three
that w'u'd bind befure th' axle an' thin shnap
up sthraight again. There was an oak-three
ahead, an' I was hopin' we 'd run sthraddle av
that; but we changed our coorse befure that
an' wint sthraight east.

^^Th' cows were now settled down, tendin'
sthrictly to th' business av walkin' away wid
me ; an ' I thinks to mesilf , ^ 'T is now mabby
th' heavy-set cow will be listenin' to rayson.'
So I got down an' wint alongside an' pounded
him on th' nose, tellin' him to shtop.

^ ^ ^ Wo ! ye ould shtir-pot av a throuble-
maker,' says L *Woe to ye, if ye don't wo!'
says I.

^^But he only nodded his head up an' down,
as if he undhershtood what I was sayin' but
did n 't think much av me advice. An ' nixt we
crossed a counthry road. An' we put a thank-
ye-ma'am acrost it that '11 be joltin' th' farm-
ers for years to come.

*^Whin I saw th' railroad ahead, I climbed
up on me sate to be mindin' th' throttle; for
I did n't want to be pullin' up th' thracks an'
makin' that kind av throuble. So I put it foor-
ward wid all me sthren'th to the last notch, an'
threw her wide open wid th' plow 'way off


th' ground intirely. An' we wint over th' rail-
road widout doin' anny damage at all; th' iron
wheels only bnmpin' over th' rails.

*^0n th' other side av th' thracks we came
to a sthrip av woods; an' we wint into thim,
wid here an' there a thin pig lookin' at us in
alarrm an' runnin' away like a deer. An' be-
fure long we were headed for a naygur cabin
that was shtandin' up high on props, like four
legs, to be kapin' it out av th' shpring rises.
Whin we were nearly to it I shtood up, an'
got ready to jump; for I c'u'd see that th' iron
axle w'u'd be catchin' wan av th' tall posts, an'
I 'd be havin' the house down on top av me.
We only shkinned it wid th' hub— but 't was
a close escape, I 'm thinkin'.

**'T was thin I saw th' sight that brought
th' satisfaction back to me again, an' med me
feel like a man wanst more. For there was
th' wather av th' river that I c'u'd see shpark-
lin' bechune th' leaves av th' threes sthraight
ahead an' shinin' in th' sun. 'T was th' Mis-
sissippi ; an' now we 'd be seein' was I th' boss
or not.

^* *I 'm thinkin' ye '11 be shtoppin' a while
now,' says I. An' I got ready to be sayin',
^Wo!' whin they 'd have to be shtoppin'— just
for th' satisfaction av it. An' whin we got


to th^ edge av it I shtood up an* said, *Wo,

^^They kept sthraight on. They wint iii it
fasther than iver; an' befnre I c'u'd get me
mind we was plowin' into th' river, wid me
holdin' me feet up out av th' wather an' think-
in ' I w 'u 'd dive back to shore whin th ' wather
w 'u 'd be comin ' up to me neck. An ' they wint
on till th' wather was half-way up their bellies,
where they c'u'd take a dhrink widout th'
throuble av shtoopin' their heads. An' whin
I thought they were through dhrinkin' they
w'u'd nayther go foorward nor back, but
shtood there, mindin' th' scenery, wid th' river
coolin' their legs, an' thim daddlin' their noses
in th' wather. Whither th' little wan was
shtandin' or floatin', I dunno ; but I 'm thinkin'
't was a good thing he was Mowed up like a
bladder, he had to go in so deep to suit th' tall

^^An' there they shtood, peaceful-like; an'
I c'u'd now see 't was this they had in mind
to be doin' all th' time. An' I sat wid me legs
up on th' sate, wonderin' if I w'u'd shwim off
or wait till they 'd be goin' to grass an' take me

*^Th' river was lappin' against th' throttle
an' gushin' in the chain ; an' I sat wid th' whip


in me hand in a way that I w'u'd only need a
hook on it to be catchin' catfish. An* behind
me was the fince-wire ladin' out av th' wather
like a throUin '-line. Had th' barbs on it wint
into a few av th' worms I had been turnin'
up, 't w'u'd be all ready to catch a sthring av
thim. An* thin I 'd *a* been fishin*. An* th*
medlarks were cleanin* up th* last av their

*^Afther a while (for I had now plenty av
time to mesilf) th* Creole Belle kem down th*
river an* called out wid th* base whistle av
her. An* th* tall wan looked out acrost th'
wather an* answered, ^Moo!' like givin* a sig-
nal for th* pilot to be passin* us on th* lift.

^'I *11 not be tellin' ye all I thought, for I
can*t; but th* ind av it was that I saw a man
comin* acrost in a shkiff, wid his back to us.
*T was th* cousin av Mary Ann bringin* back
the seed; an* I waited till he *d be arrivin*.

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Online LibraryCharles D. (Charles David) StewartThe fugitive blacksmith → online text (page 1 of 16)