Sumner F. (Sumner Franklin) Claflin.

Variety from a canvasser's note book online

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moment his head bobbed up and he struck out for the
shore which he reached without a scratch.

"He had taken the one chance out of a thousand, and
and come out alive. His first articulate words, as we bent
over him and he gradually came to, were. 'Boss, I guess its
your treat,' and a happy smile flitted across his weather-
cracked face in anticipation. It was a closer shave than
Bill was used to, but he always said that if a man was going
to die of the jimjams, he couldn't be drowned, and I guess
he was right, pretty near. "



VARIETY 19

11 THE YOUNG MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS



Thou venerable, silent seer of the hills

Guarding these valleys fair,
Facing the storms, as we life's lesser ills,

I look and lisp, Ah ! there.

Welcome from far, the cities of the plain,
With trunks and trappings piled,

Thy moveless features chiseled ifi disdain
No maiden's heart beguiled.

I hate to say it, but you are out of date.

Old Man of Mountains white.
The nice young man's a greater potentate.

In fact he's " out of sight. "

We love to see you guard these valleys fair,
While gray heights mirror in the lake.

If only our young mountaineer be there,
You bet he takes the cake.

But I'll not guy you, father ever true

Would that all men learned
To be as steadfast, grim old man, as you,

Mid storms as unconcerned.



12 CITY OF THE SILVER STREAMS



Here's to the city of the silver streams
Married in your midst, the Merrimack

Flows forth to move ten thousand swift machines
Along its busy track.

You, Pemigewasset from Franconia's heart.
Boiling, turbulent, along a siuuous way,

Dammed once, once only from thy distant start
No power could stay.



20 VARIETY

By you fair Winnipesaukee, child of the lakes,
Whosr calmer course a double service gives,

Spouse of your fellow as you come to mate
t'air P'ranklin lives.

And here by day and night, forever more,

Your ceaseless current turns the useful wheel.

The hum of industry along your shore
Insures your weal.

So once again, to Franklin and her streams.
Married by nature, by man named anew.

We send our greeting; may your brightest dreams
Prove always true.



13 LIMERICKS



The following found on the Dundee rosd is thought by some to be the work of the
thieves who broke into Chas. King's and stole cider recently. Whoever was guilty ol it ought
o be severely dealt with :



There was a young man in Dundee ;
He courted a school-girl quite free.

She was trundlebed trash ;

He was minus of cash,
But they figured on matrimonee.

Now this brilliant young man of Dundee,
A schemer of schemes was he ;

He ran into debt for his clothes.

From his head to his hose,
And had the knot tied to a T.

But the man who went good for his suit,
Concluded that he was a " bute, "

When he gave back the clothes,

For which he still owes,
This cheap matrimonial recruit.



VARIETY 21



To the sweet boys and girls of Dundee,
I'll extend this advice, which is free^

Whenever you wed

Don't rob the trundlebed.
And pay the price, whatever it he.



14 DREW'S POETRY



The late Robert Drew of Silver Lake resembles a poet about the same as a sheep does a
goat, and many old residents will remember his efforts to touch the tuneful lyre aad other liars
that were not so tuneful. It has never been satisfactorily settled why he did it. Not even
Jehu Sanborn of Effingham Fails, the voluminous writer for the local press can say, but he
did it, and the doctors say it was not the immediate cause of his death. He did it on a little
hand press and took evident pleasure in watching its effect on his neighbors and friends as they
perused the following hand made poetry :



"There's A man in our neighborhood

he is neither short nor tall,
he writes for all the papers,

and scandelizes all.
he listens at the windows

and at the outlet of the sink,
and before we hardly know it,

all our doings are in print.

He sends his little daughter out

to forage around for food
and sits and writes his locals

while his wife saws up the wood
if you should meet him on the street

you would hardly get a pass
for he covers half an acre

when he's well filled up with gass.

He swells up like a bladder

if he ever gets a dollar
and when he goes to silver lake

he wears a papper collar
he wears a jockie hat

when he is picking up the news
and When he goes to sandWich

he borroWs coat and shoes



22 VARIETY

I have lived in days of old angsinen
I am foar score years and ten

but never before have seen an ape
that called himself a man."

It is strange what genius wastes itself upon the desert air.



15 WINTER ON THE SACO



The road snowrollers have been in requisition all through this section the past week, and
with over a foot of snow on the level it is hard to realize that hardly a hundred miles away at
this writing mud and bare ground are the rule.



The Snow King sat where the Winter is born,
On the regal summits o'er Saco's vale;

Gathering his force for a blinding storm,
When the wild winds race with the icy gale.

And the beech and birch and bowing pine,

The spruce and the hemlock, as dark as night,

Stood waiting the shock of the northern wind
And the gale and the tempest clothed with might.

And the pine flung his branches out to the firs,
Roaring in the four winds, like a heaving sea;

And the spruce and the hemlock from beetling spurs
Below the summits sang dolefully.

Down in the vales, by Saco's sinuous way,

The slender birches tossed their graceful stems
And laughed derision at the storm king's sway.

And tossed their plumes unheeding o'er the glens.
This was but yesterday, the woods do-day

Stand abject slaves, covered with white shrouds;
A ghostly host, like monks that bend and pray

Beneath the frowning of the wintery clouds.

How laughs the birch, poor soul, on the drear lea.
Bent prostrate, every branch and stem ice-clad.

Buried in drifts, abject captivity,

With naught to mitigate nor ought to add.



VARIETY 23



You reign today, King Winter, and you will,
But know that Spring will come to every tree

And every blade that grows on every hill.
And Spring shall set your every captive free.



16 A TALE OF BARTLETT



''This, ladies and gentlemen, is Sawyer's rock" re-
marks the conductor in the observation car on the Maine
Central as the train rolls slowly through the valley above
Upper Bartlett. "The place where frontiersman Sawyer
killed a moose. The rock you see projects down to the
brink of the Saco. The moose was trying to climb the
steep side of the rock and Sawyer followed and cut the
cords of his legs and then cut his throat. " Such was the
story, and as I looked across the meadows another story
came to my mind, told as I sat by the fireside of one of the
prosperous woodsmen and farmers near the pretty town of
Upper Bartlett.

Newton Ford was a proud young man when first he
was promoted to the responsible position of conductor of
the freight between Portland, Me., and Lunenburg, Vt.
Proud for himself, and pleased that the partner of his suc-
cesses and failures would share in the benefit of his
advancement.

A modest cottage on the ridge at the upper end of the
village near where the great railway embankment stretched
along the narrow intervals by the side of the Saco and
plunged into the jaws of the mountains, was the home of
Newton Ford and his little family, and there he spent as
much of his time as he could spare from his railroad duties.
As the years went by the Maine Central regarded him as
one ol its deservedly trusted employees.



24 ' VARIETY

The years were not without accidents, however, and
numbers of more or less severe shakeups and several wrecks
occurred, but so far as my informant could remember, the
buggy of that freight never left the track. In the
station at Upper Bartlett is located a telegraph station^
where the clicking instruments carry the swift messages of
the train dispatcher and direct the control and management
of every train on the road. In this station is also located
an eating saloon and, as it is a place of stopping for all
trains, it is a railroad center of considierable importance.
Two operators are employed here, and the general supervi
sion of business at this point was, at the time of which I
write, in the hands of John McCrillis, who had to keep
track of the money taken in and disbursed at this point
and report daily.

There was a big safe in the office and in order that the
telegraph operator might attend to the little business that
came in during his stunt on duty, the safe door was
never locked. For some weeks Asrent McCrillis had

o

missed Small sums of money, which sums he had to make
up from his own wages and it really didn't suit his ideas of
thrift and prudence and one day, as the little gentlemanly
Frenchman, who was serving as night operator, sauntered
in to assume his duties, Mr. McCrillis lit on him somewhat
savagely and charged him with the peculations. This was
met with a vigorous and emphatic denial — and the assertion
by the operator that Mr. McCrillis might consider his posi-
tion vacant just as soon as he chose, as the said operator
had never yet been accused of being a thief without proper
resentment. Some of the employes crowded around and
urged the operator to stand his ground and not be driven
out without proof, and Mr. McCrillis drew off non-plussed
for the time being; but he determined to catch the thief in
the act, if possible. So, watching his opportunity, he took
a large auger and bored a hole in the floor above and when
the night operator went on duty the next night, Mr. Mc
Crillis also went on duty in the vacant room overhead.




THE NICK Y()LIN(t MAN"
(See page 19.)



VARIETY 25

The hours sped by. The operator stuck to his key-
board, and trains came and went. At last, toiUng wearily
up from the lowlands of the Saco, came the long freight,
conducted by Newton Ford. It came to a standstill and,
while the busy inspectors went down the long length of the
train, carefully testing the wheels for the long hard run up
through the white hills and on to Lunenburg, Newton
Ford stepped into the office, no one was looking — he slid
around to the safe — no one saw him — a half dollar is quick-
ly transferred to his pocket and he is innocently drumming
on the window sill, and waiting to give the signal to send
his train upward over the heavy grades. It is a little
thing. He has done as much before and no one seems to
mistrust, done it perhaps a score of times — the company is
rich. A half a dollar means a jolly time with the boys, a
glass of beer all round or cigars for the crowd — and the
company is rich, you know. They give away a thousand
times more than that in free passes every year. ''The head
ones take what they like when they can, and why shouldn't
I.?" He argues. Newton Ford that won't do. If you are
going to be a rascal, be a big one. If you could only steal
a whole railroad, they would call you a good financier, but
you — you have thrown away a good job, at $2.50 per day,
by sneaking that beggarly half-dollar out of the drawer.
The eye at the auger hole is on you. While you are put-
ting your train up over the treacherous rails along the diz-
zy curves by Elephant's Head and the swaying Franken-
stein trestle, John McCrillis is telegraphing a bill of partic-
ulars into the Portland director's office. At Lunenburg a
special dispatch is handed you. Ah! What is this.? Want-
ed on my arrival at Portland at the office. What does that
mean.? What can it mean.? Perhaps that run to Portland
is an agreeable one. Train disposed of, engine in round
house, silent, sullen, you swing out of the cab and make
your way to the office. '' Mr. Ford, here is your pay up to
day — we have no further use for you on the Maine Cent-
raf. Good day, sir!" And that is all.



26 VARIETY

17 THE MURDER OF EZRA DODGE



The topic that still interests everybody and will until the meeting of the grand jury in
April discloses what, if anything, is to be done about it, is the murder last September
13th of Ezra P. Dodge of Tamworth. The writer heard some seventeen distinct versions of
the affair from as many eye witnesses of the finding of the body, and he has been strongly
tempted to write a book on " What I Know About the Dodge Murder, " but he didn't, and
merely contents himself with the following supposedly poetic observations on the same :



Crushed and bruised and lying in the sun,
By the heathside in the bushes by the wall ;

Was it at noontide when the horrid deed was done,
Or when the stars their silver light let fall ?

Was it after hot words the cruel blow was given.
Or with coolness the dread bullet sought its mark ?

Who can tell us how this poor soul all unshriven
Went out from us into mysteries more dark ?

Was it a hand that raised with him the glass
Of commradship, that struck that wicked blow ;

Was it the hp protesting to the last
A friendship its owner did not know.

Was it for half the contents of his purse
The fiend required of him his all, his life ?

A wretch so sordid it would seem were worse
Than had he struck the blow in angry strife.

Whoe'er he be and whereso e'er he roam

God marks him day and night and night and day.

Bitter shall be his cup, and hell shall be his home
Till blood and tears shall purge his sin away.

And as he walks on green earth or the snow,
'Neath summer's sun or winter's death-like chill.

His victim with him walks ever to and fro,
In dark or light he walks beside him still.

There is no place among the circling suns.
In Heaven or earth or deep beneath the sea.

Where punishment shall fail the guilty ones —
Let in the least their cowering souls go free.



VARIETY 27

The earth cries out, he bears the brand of Cain,
He shudders as he hears the whispering pine,
The winds are vocal with the murderer's name,
And Heaven assures him " Vengence alone is Mine. "



18 ONLY A PICTURE



" Make me a picture of baby, " I said to the artist one day,
" A picture of my little baby, whom death has taken away ;
Make his hair sunny and golden, and tangled about his face,
Not brushed, as in silence we saw it, but full of life-like grace.

" Make his eyes blue as in summer glows the morning sky;
And, say, can you light them with gladness that cannot fade or die ?
Curl his red Ups and round them, and dimple his cheeks just so,
(But his nose was a pug, no matter, you'd call it funny I know).

" And give him a checkered apron, with pocket for 'kerchief and toys,
And some copper-toed boots with red tops, and a drum to make a noise.
(We used to scold Tommy for that then, but so quiet our rooms have grown
That 1 long for the romping baby and cry when I'm alone)."

The artist painted my picture with patient and tenderest art ;

He seemed to feel my longings and the hunger of my heart.

He outlined a chubby angel and give him a form most fair ;

He put the fresh glow on his soft cheek and the sunlight in his hair.

The drum, the boots and the apron were just as like as could be.
And the hands that held the drumsticks were the ones he reached to me
When the choking night-scourge seized him and bore his life away.
But the eyes were not my baby's, their light was too cold and gray.

I do not blame the artist. His art was tender and true.
And the grace of his nameless cherub I loved, and so would you,
But, oh, the light of my baby's soul, glowing in his eyes.
Greets me no more — methinks 'tis hid with God in Paradise.




VARIETY



19 AUTUMN



Last night I looked abroad,

The sun was setting in a cold grey cloud,

The earth was sere and dank,

Near all the leaves had fled.

Last night I thought of God,
I thought me of my approching shroud,
And as I thought my spirit sank
Almost to meet the dead !

For what are we ? hke leaves and summer smiles,
We spring to bloom through Ufe's short year,
We sail amid earth's ever pleasant isles,
Its sudden storms, its calms, love's witching wiles,
We fade and pass like summer — such is man !

The goldenrod and rank bush hides no more
With green and bloom the graves on yonder hill.
But ragged rocks and forest skeletons
Beneath a cold dead sun my visions fill.

There is a time in every passing year

To 'mind us of our own departed youth ;

There is a time when all the world goes mateing,

A noontide, a decline, a sad awaiting,

A time of shrouds and the eternal bier!

But all these times are God's time —
Brother mine — He grows not old as we do,
He was never young, but in our "seven ages,"
Doth He rejoice and make of all things good !




VARIETY 29

20 THE DANCE OF THE LEAVES



Which occured simultaneously and without previous notice Sunday, November 10, 1902,
Manager, Old Boreas; Musicians, Bare Limbs, Green Boughs; Wind Instruments, Gates,'
Signs and Wire Fences.



Oh, it was a jolly dance,

All the high-toned folks were there.
Oak and maple, popple, birch,

And willow, lithe and fair!

How they raced along the highways,
How they surged and choaked the byways,
How they doddled, how they spun,

How they sailed and soared and swirled.
How they doubled, chained and swung

Over all the wind-swept world !

Come together on the square,
Come from out of everywhere,
Chased around right merrily,
Tripped and turned quite airily,
This one dance the leaflets had
E'er they hied them off to bed.



21 AN OCCASIONAL OCCURRENCE



I halted at the school house door,
In a secluded glen it stood,

I'd been there several times before
On my usual errand — doing good

I rapped quite slowly, tap, tap, tap,
Stepped back and calmly waited,

The hum inside grew still at that,
The studious buz abaited.



30 VARIETY



And just as I would rap again,

The door was opened to me,
There stood the school marm on the sill,

And smiled as though she knew me.

I'm selling monthlies, Miss, said I,
Full of lore on rules and training,

To teach the young idea to shoot,
The various ways explaining.

" I thank you for your kindness, sir,
The school marm blushing said,

My school will close week after next.
And then I'm to be wed." Nuff ced.



22 WHY I LOVE YOU



I know why I ought to love you, and I do.

There is a joy to go where duty calls.
Nor left nor right to look, but just to you.

My dear, until life's final curtain falls.

The one who knelt with me by bridal bed,
And rose to face life's varied scenes together,

The mother of my children, living, dead

Who taught me courage whatso'r the weather —

Do I know why I love you ? Yes, I do!

It is no dream I chose, or sudden passion,
A pretty face, a figure fair and new;

My love is builded from another fashion.

For our two lives are linked as one forever.
And dearer are the ties as we grow older,

I could not trust a passion that could sever,
Or grow less pure with age, or ever colder!

I love you, dear, because when comes life's fading,

Towards which we glide from childhood's sunlit shores,

I know that you'll be with me, loving, aiding,
Your heart my home and my heart only yours.



VARIETY 31

God wills it so! Youth may may not know the reason
Why love comes in to gladden soul and mind ;

But happier age, ripened in its due season,
Knows why it loves ; it is no longer blind !

So I know why I love you — only you.

From all the women in the world beside;
Forever one — this God hath made of two,

And one forever gladly we abid.



23 QUEEN CARRIE



I sought her when the world was young,

I courted her with joy,
She was the queen of Mytown

And I a barbarous boy.

I bowed to my dear queen's decree,

A servant at her throne,
Her every wish was law to me

When e'er that wish was known.

She gave me people for the land

As fair as e'er were seen.
She held the scepter in her hand

I was consort to the queen.

As chief I ranged the earth for her,
And brought to her the spoils.

To build and deck her capitol
The aim of all my toils.

I thought to live and die her slave,

(A wilUng slave was I.)
No harm should come to my dear queen

With her prince consort nigh.

But lo ! there came another king.
Who reigns from shore to shore.

To take Queen Carrie from her throne
And he has pressed her sore.



32 \rARIETr

Though bravely fights our dear home queen.

To hold her fair domain,
And all the people of her realm

Give battle in her name.

Still day by day the hidden foe
Will drag her from her throne,
Till Mytown is left desolate
Without the queen of home.



24 IN THE VASTNESS



How sunny the light shines about us,.

How gaily the shadows chase by.
When the hillsides echo with laughter,

And pleasantly blue is the sky.
The young birds mate in the meadow ;

The kine and the wood fo-lks gay^
With never a thought o-f tomorrow,

Are living and loving today.

In this day lives the young man and maiden.

And why should their joy he denied ?
The storms just ahead may be hidden,

The fortunes of fate undescried.
Eut, I say, drink your goblet of pleasure,

Drink deep, heaven meant it for you;,
To be happy in life is a duty,

As much as it is to be true.

As I think of the vastness behind us.

And gaze at the vastness before.
I feel that heaven has designed us

To live one life at a time, and no more I
To live it each day as a unit,

Making it count for its most.
To take out the best there is in it,

And the fragments, that nothing be lost.




"AND A DRUM TO MAKE A NOISE

(See page 27.)



VARIETY 33

I have walked down into the breakers,

Where the waves of eternity roar,
I have stepped my bare feet in chill waters

That girdle and threaten the shore !
I have list to the plaint of my dear one.

Sinking into the vastness from me,
I have tasted the horror and sadness

Of the infinite, measureless sea !

And as we stood there at the parting,

A moment, and looking behind
The long way reaching back in the sunlight

I lovingly called to her mind
The sweet road we had traveled together,

The burdens we joyfully bore,
For the sake of the children God gave us;

In our thoughts we reviewed it once more.

But we said not a word of the future,

My dear one I held by the hand,
'Till God took her forth in the vastness

That stretches away from the land !
And God, in his infinite goodness.

Will give her the peace and the calm
Of the deep sea, where never the breakers

Shall threaten her dear soul with harm.

In the deep sea of infinite pity.

That flows in the world of the blest.
Where the hunted and harried find haven.

And the burdened and weary find rest,
I know that the Father who forms us.

As the potter his pliable clay.
Has nothing but good for his children
In the vastness that hid her away.



25 THE MEETIN' AT SOUTH ROAD
SCHOOL HOUSE



I was over to the South Road school house to meetm'
the other Sunday night and Elder Meacham was there a



34 VARIETY

leadin' the meetin', and John Ferguson had told us how he
expected to go to Heaven when he died because there was
a place provided for them that loved the Lord as he did an'
he should go any way, whether anybody else went or not,
an' he was glad the Lord had kin'ly showed him the way to
salvation, an' that he lived in a land where the true gospel
was preached. An' Miss Jennison had explained how the
Lord had called after her when she was very young, an'
how she pittied them that set in darkness in foreign lands,
an' hadn't never had no religion worth speakin' of, an' so
forth. An' Elder Meacham had hinted for the third time
there was liberty, an' Jim Jones had coughed twice and I
blew my nose, to fill in kind of, when Peleg Johnson ris up
an' broke the silence which had become oppressive,as it were.
Peleg don't often speak in meetin', an' every one rubbered
more or less when he begun, but he stuck to it an' spoke
his little piece good an' loud so's they all could hear quite
distinct. He says something about like this:

** Brethren and sisters: — I aint exactly religious, but
I've been thinkin', an' I hope ye won't think hard of me if
I tell you what I think. Honest now, it appears to me
more as if 'in the beginning' (or pretty soon after), man
created God after a notion of his own, an' different men
had different notions, an' as time went on an' times changed,
their notions changed, an' that is why we have so many
different things said about the same great Being. Then
too, them that wrote the Bible, (the one we read out of),
thought it would be a good plan to work in a lot of wonder-
ful things into their histories an' chronicles, novels and
psalms, an' they salted an' peppered them to suit the ori-
ental taste. Now I can't see as there is any more credit
coming to a Christian or a Hebrew for pretending to be-


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Online LibrarySumner F. (Sumner Franklin) ClaflinVariety from a canvasser's note book → online text (page 2 of 8)