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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 28


Aunt Winifred was weeding her day-lilies this morning, when the gate creaked timidly, and then swung noisily, and in walked Abinadab Quirk, with a bouquet of China pinks in the button-hole of his green-gray linen coat. He had taken evident pains to smarten himself up a little, for his hair was combed into two-horizontal dabs over his ears, and the green-gray coat and blue-checked shirt-sleeves were quite clean; but he certainty is the most uncouth specimen of six feet five that it has ever been my privilege to behold. I feel sorry for him, though. I heard Meta Tripp laughing at him in Sunday school the other day,—"Quadrangular Quirk," she called him, a little too loud, and the poor fellow heard her. He half turned, blushing fiercely; then slunk down in his corner with as pitiable a look as is often seen upon a man's face.

He came up to Auntie awkwardly,—a part of the scene I saw from the window, and the rest she told me,—head hanging, and the tiny bouquet held out.

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"Clo sent these to you," he stammered out,—"my cousin Clo. I was coming 'long, and she thought, you know,—she'd get me, you see, to—to—that is, to—bring them. She sent her—that is—let me see. She sent her respect—ful—respectful—no, her love; that was it. She sent her love 'long with 'em."

Mrs. Forceythe dropped her weeds, and held out her white, shapely hands, wet with the heavy dew, to take the flowers.

"O, thank you! Clo knows my fancy for pinks. How kind in you to bring them! Won't you sit down a few moments? I was just going to rest a little. Do you like flowers?"

Abinadab eyed the white hands, as his huge fingers just touched them, with a sort of awe; and, sighing, sat down on the very edge of the garden bench beside her. After a singular variety of efforts to take the most uncomfortable position of which he was capable, he succeeded to his satisfaction, and, growing then somewhat more at his ease, answered her question.

"Flowers are sech gassy things . They just blow out and that's the end of 'em. I like machine-shops best."

"Ah! well, that is a very useful liking. Do you ever invent machinery yourself?"

"Sometimes," said Abinadab, with a bashful smile. "There's a little improvement of mine for carpet-sweepers up before the patent-office now. Don't know whether they'll run it through. Some of the chaps I saw in Boston told me they thought they would do't in time; it takes an awful sight of time. I'm alwers fussing over something of the kind; alwers did, sence I was a baby; had my little windmills and carts and things; used to sell 'em to the other young uns. Father don't like it. He wants me to stick to the farm. I don't like farming. I feel like a fish out of water.—Mrs. Forceythe, marm!"

He turned on her with an abrupt change of tone, so funny that she could with difficulty retain her gravity.

"I heard you saying a sight of queer things the other day about heaven. Clo, she's been telling me a sight more. Now, I never believed in heaven!"


"Because I don't believe," said the poor fellow, with sullen decision, "that a benevolent God ever would ha' made sech a derned awkward chap as I am!"

Aunt Winifred replied by stepping into the house, and bringing out a fine photograph of one of the best of the St. Georges,—a rapt, yet very manly face, in which the saint and the hero are wonderfully blended.

"I suppose," she said, putting it into his hands, "that if you should go to heaven, you would be as much fairer than that picture as that picture is fairer than you are now."

"No! Why, would I, though? Jim-mimy! Why, it would be worth going for, wouldn't it?"

The words were no less reverently spoken than the vague rhapsodies of his father; for the sullenness left his face and his eyes—which page 72 are pleasant and not unmanly, when one fairly sees them—sparkled softly, like a child's.

"Make it all up there, maybe?" musing,—"the girls laughing at you all your life, and all? That would be the bigger heft of the two, then, wouldn't it? for they say there ain't any end to things up there. Why, so it might be fair in Him after all; more'n fair, perhaps. See here, Mrs Forceythe, I'm not a church-member, you know, and father, he's dreadful troubled about me; prays over me like a span of ministers, the old gentleman does, every Sunday night. Now, I don't want to go to the other place any more than the next man, and I've had my times, too, of thinking I'd keep steady and say my prayers reg'lar,—it makes a chap feel on a sight better terms with himself,—but I don't see how I'm going to wear white frocks and stand up in a choir,—never could sing no more'n a frog with a cold in his head,—it tires me more now, honest, to think of it, than it does to do a week's mowing. Look at me! Do you s'pose I'm fit for it? Father, he's always talking about the thrones, and the wings, and the praises, and the palms, and having new names in your foreheads (shouldn't object to that, though, by any means), till he drives me into the tool-house, or off on a spree. I tell him if God hain't got a place where chaps like me can do something He's fitted 'em to do in this world, there's no use thinking about it anyhow."

So Auntie took the honest fellow into her most earnest thought for half an hour, and argued, and suggested, and reproved, and helped him as only she could do; and at the end of it seemed to have worked into his mind some distinct and not unwelcome ideas of what a Christlike life must mean to him, and of the coming heaven which is so much more real to her than any life outside of it. "And then," she told him, "I imagine that your fancy for machinery will be employed in some way. Perhaps you will do a great deal more successful inventing there than you ever will here."

"You don't say so!" said radiant Abinadab.

"God will give you something to do, certainly, and something that you will like."

"I might turn it to some religious purpose, you know!' said Abinadab, looking bright. "Perhaps I could help 'em build a church, or hist some of their pearl gates, or something like!"

Upon that he said that it was time to be at home and see to the oxen, and shambled awkwardly away.

Clo told us this afternoon that he begged the errand and the flowers from her. She says: "'Bin thinks there never was anybody like you, Mrs. Forceythe, and 'Bin isn't the only one, either." At which Mrs. Forceythe smiles absently, thinking—I wonder of what.