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Newspaper Page Text
So Vernon's companionship 'with
his fellows was circumscribed forth
with. He had to be in by dusk. He
spent long evenings listening to ad
vice and the reading of solid books
About three times a week the min
ister came, purposely to deprecate
"the wicked nature he must fight
Vernon got terribly tired of these
methods. He comforted himself,
however, by roaming in the woods
One day he roamed farther than
usual, to come across a small fenced
patch of ground with a rude hut in
the center of it He drew back with
He had never been there before,
He had never seen the denizens of
the house, but he had heard of them.
Budd Nicholson, his past a mystery,
had come there five years previous
with his little child. He had ignored
all neighbors. Wresting his living
from the soil, he rarely went to town,
and when he did' his nods of recogni
tion were sparing. He was recog
nized as half savage, a social outcast,
and his daughter Irma was denom
inated as "that little demon."
She seemed to inherit her strange
father's animosity against humanity.
Some boys had crossed their field in
chase of a rabbit. Little Irma had
pounced down upon the intruders,
pummeled them with, her tiny fists
and had then thrown stones at them,
forcing an ignominious retreat.
"Don't you dare come over that
fence into our land!" suddenly star
tled Vernon, and looking up he re-
cognized "the little demon" from de
scription. She was barefooted, her
hair was flying in the breeze, in her
hand she held a menacing stick.
"I won't, ma'am," said Vernon, and
then his humility or dejection or
courteous tones attracted the girl.
"I'm not 'ma'am,' I'm only Irma,"
she called out quickly, "and I'll 'be
friendly with you if you haven't come
to call my father names and annoy
him, because you act and talk so gen
And then Vernon found a boon
companion, a witch of the wild whose
company he sought and cherished all
through the beautiful fall season. If
she was a little demon to others, she
proved a veritable angel of joy tc
Vernon. She knew every shady nookl
in the woods. Nature was to her an
open book. '
And then Vernon's father learned I
of the companionship. He started In I
"to whip the tiger out of Vernon!"
He alluded to "those outcasts, the'
Nicholsons, with whom no respect-I
able people would affiliate," and.t
locked in his room, weeping bitterly,
Vernon sobbed to himself: "If I'm a'
tiger and Irma is a little demon, then!
we're one of a kind. I'll never forget
He did not The next day he re-'
ceived the announcement from his'
father that the following one he was
to be sent away to school Only once;
before his departure did Vernon see'
Irma and tell her his sorrowful story.'
Their tears mingled. ' She gave him
a four-leafed clover as an amulet
which he ever afterwards preserved.
She said to him at parting:
"I can't live without you so I'm
going to get father to give me a
chance in life and educate me and
make me a fine lady, so you won't be
ashamed of me when I am your
Vernon went his way, Irma hers.f
Shortly afterwards Budd Nicholson
disappeared from the village and'
Irma with him. There was a vague '
rumor as to an inheritance, later a;
clear one that the Nicholsons were'
"living in style in the city," and that
Budd Nicholson had come into his
own. ' 1
"When I left Belleville," wrote Ver-i
non to his father eight years later, a '
member of the bar and announcing
his approaching marriage, "the tiger;
sentiment would have made me reck
less but for the sweet, loyal influence
of the lady who is to be my -wife. It ;
was destiny that I should meet her
again in these later years. I am proud '