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From the collection of the

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o Prelinger
v Jjibrary
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San Francisco, California





"Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the
salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it
be salted?"

Matthew v : 13



"Annul a marriage? 'Tis impossible!
Though ring around your neck be brass,

not gold,
Needs must it clasp, gangrene you all the

same !"

Robert Browning



"Wherefore do ye spend money for that
which is not bread? and your labor for that
which satisfieth not?"

Isaiah Iv : 2



"Pig Iron: A casting run directly from

the smelting furnace into troughlike molds."

Webster's Dictionary









COPYRIGHT, 1925, 1926

All Rights Reserved Including that of

Translation into Foreign Languages,

Including the Scandinavian

First Edition, - Jan ,
Eighteenth Edition, Jan., 1926
Twenty-fifth Edition, Mar., 1926
Thirty-second Edition, Apr., 1026

Printed In the United States of America


My dear Mouse:

Some twenty years ago your uncle dedi-
cated a book to me, one of the things which,
as you know, has given me the greatest pride
and pleasure. So on this page I now place the
name you share with him, in the hope you
also will be glad to share the dedication.



PIG IRON : A casting run directly from the smelting
furnace into troughlike molds.

^-Webster's Dictionary.



THE news of Lee's surrender at Appomattox reached the
little Massachusetts town of Mendon almost at the very hour
of Sam Smith's birth. The baby's father, gray-featured and
gray-bearded Theophilus Smith, who had given two sons to
the Union cause, took his wife's hand in his as he knelt beside
the bed, and gently patting it, told her the glad tidings in a
voice that slightly trembled.

" James lies at Shiloh and Lawrence at Andersonville, but
right has triumphed, my dear. The Union is to be preserved
and our boys have not given their young lives in vain. God in
His infinite goodness has seen fit in this hour of victory to
send us another son to take the place of one of those weVe

"Is it a boy, Thee?" his wife asked weakly.

"Yes, Mary my dear, a splendid boy. Mrs. Bell has him,
is giving him his first bath; she'll have him here directly.
A fine boy, isn't he, Adam?" he finished, addressing the doctor
who had quitted the mother for a moment to inspect the child
and was now reentering the room.

"A baby any woman might well be proud of, Mrs. Smith.
I have to congratulate you on a beautiful son."

"Then he's to be 'Samuel,' " said the woman in the bed with
a tender smile. "My 'Samuel' and yours, too, Thee for he
was 'Asked of God.' "

"Just as you like, Mary. You've made another gallant fight
and brought another sturdy soul into the world. You deserve
a fine son to look after you as the years come on, and you
shall call him what you will. 'Samuel' is an honored name.


It's not so much what a man is called at birth as what he
makes of his name in after-life; isn't that so, Adam?"

"And I thought," continued Mary Smith, her eyes now on
her husband and now upon the physician's face, "I'd use
'Osgood' again as a middle name. It was Jim's, you know,
doctor, after my mother. I couldn't have another 'Jim T ;
never a child of mine with his name or Lawrence's. But I like
'Osgood.' The Osgoods came over with Oglethorpe in 1733,
doctor, and my mother was the last of the direct line. We're
Americans on both sides right down from Colonial days,
aren't we, Thee?"

"Yes; you know my people came from New England,
Adam. My grandparents lived at Concord and my grand-
father was one of the 'Minute Men.' We didn't move to South
Carolina until I was a tad."

"I thought I'd call the baby 'Samuel Osgood Smith'; don't
you think that sounds pretty?"

The man on one knee beside the bed rose ponderously and
his gray eyes twinkled a little as he pressed his wife's thin
hand, a hand knuckled and veined from years of housework.

"She all right?" he demanded with some sharpness of the

"Splendid splendid; there's no woman among my patients
who better knows how to bring children into the world than
Mrs. Smith. She never gives her doctor or her baby the
slightest trouble. . . . There now," he said, bending over the

Theophilus Smith turned toward the door but at that mo-
ment it was opened by Mrs. Bell; in her arms she carried a
bundle wrapped in a blanket.

"Look here," she said proudly. Loosening a corner of the
roll and poking a fold to one side, she displayed the weazened
red putty face of the baby.

The father peered, wrinkling up his own face in amused
imitation of his offspring's.

"Samuel Osgood Smith," he pronounced. "Well, sir, it's
something of a name for so small a thing." He studied his
son's physiognomy a moment, considering. "I wonder what
he'll make of it," he said reflectively.

"I want my baby," came somewhat fretfully from the bed.
"I want my little Sam/'

Theophilus Smith patted the blanket and went on into the


narrow passage. Heavily he descended the creaking wooden
stairs and groped his way through the dark hall toward the
kitchen door.

There was a great roaring fire in the kitchen, and Cora,
the old negress the Smiths had brought with them from
South Carolina, was there heating water on the stove in sev-
eral mammoth containers. Julia and Narcissa, the two little
girls, were playing with their rag dolls on the cheese chest.

They turned expectantly toward their father as his large
frame filled the doorway.

"It's a boy," he announced.

"Praise de good Lawd!" shouted old Cora. "Ah jest said
all along it was goin' to be a boy."

Julia stared in her usual stolid fashion, but Narcissa shrieked
in delight, rushed upon her father and flung her arms about
his legs. He picked her up and kissed her smooth baby cheek.

"A boy 'at I c'n play wif?" she demanded.

"Where's Jonathan?" her father asked. "Where's your

Narcissa dug her fingers into her father's curling beard and
tugged vigorously.

"I think he's out after the cows," Julia answered. "David
came after him. They broke out of the stony pasture."

"C'n I 'av my baby bruvver?" Narcissa queried insistently,
jerking her father's beard.

"De Widow Cook-Taft an' Mis' Harrison 're settin' in de
parlor," Cora announced. "Dey been settin' dare for most an
hour waitin' for news."

"I'll see them directly. If Jonathan returns, tell him I
want him at once."

Theophilus Smith left the room with the intention of quickly
ridding the house of the two waiting ladies, but as he passed
the door of the dining-room he hesitated a moment, then
entered, and unlocking a lower compartment of the old walnut
cupboard, drew out a round earthenware jug. Screwing the
cork out carefully, he sniffed its contents and poured himself
a tumblerful. It was hard cider, fragrant of his own apples,
last year's fermentation. Raising the glass to the light, he
observed its cloudy amber coloring with satisfaction.

"It's been a great day," he said aloud. "A great day for
the Union and for me. . . . God bless us all."

He inhaled the fragrance of his drink again, and slowly


drained it. Then wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he
replaced the demijohn in the cupboard, locked the door, and
went toward the parlor.


There was a large, baronial air about Theophilus Smith. A
vigorous man, a lawyer by early training, he was something of
a scholar with a very real love of English poetry and the
classics. The Latin of Cato, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius
rolled from his lips and there was ever ready on his tongue
an apt quotation from Shakespeare, Milton, or his great
favorite, Pope. In the early years of his married life he had
conducted a Young Ladies 7 Seminary at Charleston, South
Carolina. The venture had never been wholly successful and
when the Massachusetts farm at Mendon had unexpectedly
become his through the death of a distant relative, he had
been persuaded by his brother, Cyrus, who had never left his
native state and who had made a profitable living off a farm
at Taunton, to give up schooling, come North, and try his
fortune at agriculture.

Mendon had seemed to hold the promise of improved
circumstances for Theophilus Smith and his family. Already
there were four children. In addition to the larger income
that was frankly necessary, the man foresaw that his two elder
sons would shortly present a problem as part of the entourage
of a Young Ladies 7 Seminary. On the other hand, in four or
five years they might prove to be of happy assistance on a
farm, living at the same time a healthy life.

A brief inspection of his heritage encouraged Theophilus into
believing the move advantageous. The farm was not large,
it consisted of less than forty acres, but it possessed a full-
bearing apple orchard and several fields of what looked like
fertile land. There were a soundly built house and barn,
several smaller outhouses, and a cottage at the further end of
the orchard for a hired man and his family. The main house,
unfortunately, was far from being large enough for the re-
quirements of the new owner ; it contained only four bedrooms,
parlor, dining-room, and kitchen. However, it could be made
to do for a time; in a year or two, he decided, an addition
could be built.

So the migration had been decided upon and within a year


accomplished, but almost from the very first a fear began to
pursue Theophilus that it was to prove a mistake.

First of all, his wife, Mary, a woman of capacity, of sweet
and uncomplaining nature, adaptable and gentle, an excellent
housekeeper and mother, could not bring herself to look upon
the rugged aspects of her new home with its northern chill and
bitter winds, with anything but alien eyes. She was used to the
South, used to its graciousness and languor, accustomed in the
management of her household to slaves who were ever cheer-
fully ready to carry out her wishes. The hired girls of the
North were "white trash" to her, and had it not been for
faithful old Cora, who, although she had been given her free-
dom years before, refused to leave her beloved mistress, The-
ophilus Smith doubted whether his wife would have survived
the first bitter New England winter. Mary Smith never
referred to her new surroundings except as "this country," said
contemptuously and accompanied with a disdainful fillip of

Another reason for these forebodings was the suspicion which
at times greatly distressed him, that he, himself, lacked the
qualifications necessary to become a successful farmer. Cyrus,
on whose advice and guidance he had confidently relied, in
less than six months after the arrival North of the family from
Charleston, sold his own farm and moved with his wife to New
York where he presently wrote he had established himself in
the "hay and feed" business. Theophilus resented with a good
deal of feeling what he considered to be Cyrus's desertion, but
pride was one of the strongest elements of his nature, and
nothing could persuade him to admit even to his family, much
less to his brother, that he had more or less counted on Cyrus's
counsel in chancing so radical a change in his fortunes. As a
result, there arose a coldness between the two which increased
rather than lessened with the years.

Theophilus knew himself at heart to be no farmer. In
picturing his New England life from his Charleston schoolroom,
he had seen himself riding his horse about his fields, booted
and spurred, superintending the work, directing operations,
much as he had observed Southern gentlemen in South Carolina
overseeing the Negroes in the cotton fields. There was no
such life possible for him at Mendon. Grubbing in the soil
alone produced results, and he feared himself fundamentally
unfit for such work.


He watched his neighbors, tried to ape their methods, and to
adapt himself to their ways. But he had spent the best part
of his life teaching young girls poetry and the classics, and the
change came hard. His oldest son, Jim, sixteen when the
move North took place, a vigorous, stalwart, steady boy, r
had put into his father's heart the only hopes he dared enter-
tain during the first years at Mendon that the farming venture
might eventually prove a success. Lawrence, too, though only
thirteen, promised a pair of capable hands when he was older.
Were it 'not for the assistance of his two sons, Theophilus soon
realized the New England experiment must fail dismally. It
was the war, the brutal, cruel war, that brought this home
to him, the war that less than three years later took the first of
his sons from his home, a boy just nineteen, the apple of his
eye, and sent a bullet through his brain at Shiloh, and, within
a year, the second, sixteen, eager, impetuous, filled with all
the vigor and ardor of youth, by starvation and disease in
Andersonville Prison.

Ardently believing in the justice of slavery itself, Theophilus
Smith had with equal fervor opposed the disruption of the
Union. A northerner by birth, a southerner by many years'
residence, dissensions and controversies had beset him for
nearly forty years of his life. He had grown heartily weary
of them; his ears ached with the reiteration of all the familiar

They were settled once and for all, he said to himself with
a fervent "Thank God!" on the morning of his youngest son's
birth; Lincoln had triumphed and the new baby's country when
he grew up and became a man, would be an undivided one,
reaching from ocean to ocean, and from the Gulf to the Lakes.


The forty acres at Mendon were the scene of one pitiable
mistake after another, some of them unavoidable, a great many
more due to ignorance and blundering. There were four chil-
dren left, Jonathan, aged twelve, who had a twisted hip from
hip-disease since babyhood, and who teetered awkwardly when
he walked, Julia, a self-contained, silent little girl of ten,
ebullient Narcissa, who was three, and the new baby. And
Jhere was also Mary Smith, the wife and mother, patient and


good, hard-working and devoted. Hating the unfriendly
climate though she did, holding in frank disdain her northern
neighbors, and ridiculing, whenever an opportunity presented,
Mendon aspects and Mendon ways, she nevertheless brought
to bear what appeared to be enthusiasm and certainly an un-
questionable energy to the management of her household. Her
husband had no fault to find with Mary. "A good wife and
a good mother," he often said of her.

Somehow a living for them all must be wrung from the soil.
It was too late to think of a new undertaking. Theophilus was
far from despairing, believing still the farm could be made to
pay. He had learned many bitter lessons in the past six years,
lessons he determined each time to turn to the future's good
account. David, the hired man, who had come along the dusty
road one summer day, a year or two before, asking for work,
and who seemed to have been guided to the Smith farm by an
all-seeing and merciful Providence, had proven a tower of

David was gnarled and taciturn, but he had the capacity
for working twelve, sometimes fourteen hours a day. He
never protested, never grumbled, was never sick or intem-
perate, never shirked or forgot a chore, and lived in a lair
of dingy rags and dirt in the tenant cottage at the other end
of the farm. David was an integral part of all their lives,
now, as much a fixture among them as Cora. There was
nothing that David ever showed an unwillingness to do, or
proved incapable of doing; he was never particularly gracious
about requests, but graciousness was not one of his character-
istics. It was his firm and unquestioning faith in the farm
which put heart into Theophilus. David always believed in
next year's apples ; the corn and barley crop would be a banner
one; there was invariably a sound reason ready on his tongue
why the last one and the ones before it had not been as good
as they should. His master believed him; he was only too
anxious to believe him. Considering every circumstance, weigh-
ing all possibilities, there was no real reason why the farm
should not prove a comfortable source of income.


It was a chance conversation between his father and David
that the baby, Sam, first remembered. It was a hot June


morning, a few weeks past his third birthday, and he was lying
sprawled across Julia's lap, as she sat just outside the doorway
of the farmhouse, busily braiding straw. In after years when-
ever Sam thought of his older sister, he always mentally saw
her braiding straw; she was ever at it, fingers flying. The
incident which made an impression upon his waking conscious-
ness was trifling. His father appeared suddenly from the house
and stood a moment searching the fields and orchard with a
quick look, then shouted for David, and when the latter ap-
peared, materializing, as he always seemed to do, from the
very ground beneath one's feet, the talk, Sam remembered,
took place. Presently they started walking toward the barn,
and the baby burst into loud protests. At the moment a great
longing possessed him; he wanted to go with his father. It
was Julia's unsympathetic and curt refusal, her funny words
in explanation that stuck in his mind :

"No, Sammy, .you can't go; Pa's busy; Jock's sprung a

"Jock's sprung a tendon!" The phrase never left him. It
came back when he was an old man, his hair white. "Jock's
sprung a tendon!" For a long time he puzzled over it, and
many a night as he lay in his bed next his mother's, while she
v/as trying to sing him to sleep, his thoughts would return to it
end he would wonder about its meaning. He had no recollec-
tion of the moment of enlightenment, but after a time he
became aware that one of the farm's horses was named "Jock,"
and that all horses had tendons and when these became sprung,
it was a misfortune.

Along with the scene and Julia's mystifying words, there
were other things upon this occasion which left their imprint
upon his mind. He could recall how green the trees looked
that day, how blue the sky was, how sharply silhouetted
the soaring birds seemed against the azure background, and
how, far below where the hill dipped into the valley, the smoke
and roof-tops of Milford appeared. The world that day was
exceptionally beautiful, its sunshine warm and friendly.

Other early impressions were less vivid. He remembered
being perched beside Jonathan on the jouncing seat of the
hay wagon, and a long drive which had begun delightfully
and had ended in great misery for he had been fiercely shaken
and every muscle and bone in his small anatomy set to aching.
Then a day when Julia had taken him to school with her,


carrying him part of the way, dragging him the rest, urging
him to hurry as she grasped his hand and he toddled in the
ruts of the road beside her. That, too, had commenced propi-
tiously, and finished in disaster, for after he had been at
school about an hour, the bench on which he was sitting grew
unendurably hard and a great homesickness overcame him.
He had begun to whimper and presently to wail so bitterly
that his humiliated sister had been directed by the teacher to
take him home. There was an occasion, also, when he had
been laid flat on the kitchen table, a stretch of dark cloth
beneath him, while his mother and Cora, after many opinions
and exchanges, an interminable discussion it seemed to him,
had cut the material about his legs and waist, and had made
from it his first pair of small trousers. It was on this same
table that Julia and Narcissa were placed while Cora basted
the stiffly starched pantalets to their drawers before they went
to a party or accompanied their mother to church.

Almost all of the pleasantest recollections during the early
years of his life were associated with the younger of his two
sisters, "Narciss," as she was called by the family, a mis-
chievous, eager, high-spirited child, always in trouble and
always a delight to her brother. She and Julia, as little girls,
had acquired an astonishing collection of rag dolls known as
"baby-chinks." These were diminutive-sized puppets about
six inches long made of tightly rolled strips of cloth. Those
representing males were split to the middle and the two halvea
thus made sewed into legs. Arms were manufactured by
attaching a narrower rolled strip crosswise one inch from the
opposite end. Eyes, nose, and mouth were indicated by a care-
ful pen, red ink sometimes adding a realistic touch to a
favorite's lips. The dressing of the baby-chinks was the main
affair in the matter of their creation, and some of the costumes
evolved were both effective and ingenious. Mrs. Smith and
Cora occasionally lent an assisting hand, but most of the work
was Julia's and Narcissa's own.

Playing with baby-chinks was by far the most absorbing
diversion of the three younger Smith children. Sometimes even
Jonathan consented to be entertained with them. The chil-
dren's mother and Cora frequently were amused listeners to
the extravagantly fantastic stories that were woven about the
various personalities with which these dressed rags were
endowed. Theophilus Smith, with a tolerant half-smile, occa-


sionally studied his offspring at their play, and characterized
their unintellectual amusement as "thimble-headed bobism."

Sam's childhood was on the whole a happy one. There was
deep snow in winter with sledding, snowballing and sleigh-
rides. It was biting cold at times, and fingers, toes, and ears
had to be rubbed vigorously with snow on coming indoors to
save them from frost-bite. Once or twice each winter, the
Smith household was snowed in, and these were always occa-
sions for fun and excitement. Then there were the hot sum-
mers, deliciously warm and beguiling, when one could go all
day long without shoes and scuffle one's feet in the soft road
dust. When the apple trees were in full leaf, there was a
special diversion in exploring their branches and discovering
perches among them where one could be completely hidden
from view. And there was always the excitement each year
during the plowing, of following his father with the team, and
collecting the baby field-mice the plowshare unearthed. Cer-
tain pictures of these early years were photographed upon
Sam's mind: his sisters pulling off their sunbonnets as soon
as they were out of sight of the house, and there was no
longer danger of their mother seeing them; Jonathan limping
after the cows and calling: "So boss, so boss"; his father
leaning on the stone wall that edged the field beside the road,
debating politics in his stentorian voice with a neighbor who
had stopped his buggy to exchange views; David lifting the
cheese chest in the kitchen a brief moment to allow the cat,
who had been watching patiently for hours, to dart underneath
and secure a too-confident mouse; Cora busy at her ironing,
thumping the board with a kind of rhythm, the sweat dropping
from her black brow and hissing on the hot implement in her
hand; his mother seated at the melodeon in the parlor, sing-
ing in her sweet quavering voice:

When all Thy mercies, O my God,

Every night until he was past his tenth year, his mother
came upstairs after he was in bed and sang him to sleep.
She always sang her children to sleep. She had begun with
Jim, more than twenty years before, and Lawrence, Jonathan,
Julia, and Narcissa had all drifted off to slumber to the sound
of her sweet voice. It was a ritual with her. She never varied
the songs; she wanted her children to have the same tradition


in regard to them. The outstanding one among them was the
hymn "Beautiful Zion" or "Booful Zion" as it was called
by the Smith children.

Beautiful Zion, built above,
Beautiful Zion that I love

His mother was a kindly, patient woman, but even as a
very small boy he realized she was not a happy one. There
was always an air of gentle sorrow about her. She still felt
the call of the South, New England chilled and frightened her,
she longed and grieved for her dead sons. Besides, there was
ever present a worry for Julia and Narcissa. What did the
future hold for her girls? Were they to have no better

Online LibraryCharles Gilman NorrisPig iron → online text (page 1 of 42)