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The herald. [microfilm reel] (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1893-1900, August 28, 1898, Image 20

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042461/1898-08-28/ed-1/seq-20/

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(Copyright, 189S, by The International
Literary and New Service.)
Alfred Layburn returns to his Alabama
home at the close of the Civil war and
finds poverty staring him in the face—a
situation that his mother does not seem
to realise. There are even no horses or
mules left to work the farm and make it
yield them a living. Layburn is going to
marry Mary Kdgewood, and this fact
urges him more than anything else to get
on his feet again. He feels a pang of
jealousy when Mary tells him tnai a
young Federal officer, Captain Adams,
whom she had nursed back to health
while he was ill with typhoid fever dur
ing the visit of the Northern army to
their vicinity has, strangely enough, re
turned as commander of the Federal gar
rlßon of the town, and ls calling on her
constantly. Layburn finds an old friend.
Jack Meriweather, who is in equally hard
luck. The two men learn from an old
planter named Palmer of a scheme by
which they may be able to enrich them
selves. It ls this: The Confederate taxes
were collected by the tithes system, and
the cotton thus obtained was stored awaj
until a favorite opportunity arrived to sell
It. The approach of the Federals caused
the authorities to hide this cotton in the
swamps. Now, when the war is over, it
ls still there, and it being impossible to
restore it to its original owners. Palmer
argues that It is nobody's property, and
might as well be taken by the brave men
who fought for the South. He knows
where about fifty bags of It are, but the
difficulty ls to get the teams to haul It
out of the swamp. The two men jump
at this scheme and try to hire teams from
a man named Brown, who they think can
be trusted. But Brown, In spite of tempt
ing offers, refuses to let his teams for
several days, and the young men believe
that he means to forestall them; where
upon Uncle Ben, an old negro who has
remained upon the Layburn plantation
after the emancipation, proposes that
they go after the cotton in a flatboat and
a skilf. He knows where it is and will
guide them. When the men get to the
place they find Brown and his black ser
vant already at work with the cotton.
They frighten him away, load the cotton
on their boat and store it in Layburn's
gin-house. Brown believes that it was
the j.ankees who surprised him ln the
swamp, and when he finds out his mis
take he resolves on revenge. Taking
Jake, his negro servant, for witness, he
goes to Captain Adams and tells the story
of Layburn's taking the cotton. Adams
suspects that Brown is not altogether in
nocent, and sending him from the room
the Federal officer questions Jake and
soon obtains the whole history of the
transaction as well as the fact of Mary
Edgewood's engagement to Layburn.
PART 111.
When he had learned all that Jake
knew, Adams again assured the negro
that no harm should happen to him
through Brown. Then he gave him a
five-dollar bill, and opened a door in
the rear of the office, which communi
cated with the back stairs, for the ne
fro to make his exit.
The captain next summoned Brown
'1 Shall See That You Receive the Extreme Penalty." #
from the room across the hall.
The informer could not conceal his
surprise and alarm, as his eyes made
the circuit of the office and failed to
find Jake.
"I have dismissed the negro, Mr.
Brown," said the officer, without ask
ing tbe merchant to be seated.
"I presume the d—d rascaal has been
telling you a pack of lies," said Brown,
perceiving instantly the change in the
captain's manner.
"Unfortunately for you, Mr. Brown,"
replied Adams, "Jake has told the
truth. It appears, sir, that you at
tempted to appropriate the cotton
yourself ln the most contemptible and
underhanded manner, and, being baf
fled in your dishonorable scheme, spite
and disappointment have led you to in
form upon others. That duty requires
me to act upon your information
causes me sincere regret."
"It ls all an infamous He of that
scoundrel," exploded Brown, in a rage,
"and I'll shoot htm on sight"
"No, Mr. Brown, you will not shoot
Jake," said Adams quietly. "I give
you notice that If Jake suffers any vio
lence I shall arrest you, and you will
be tried by a courtmartial. Further,
tf you are found guilty, I shall make It
my business to see that you receive the
extreme penalty."
The captain looked at the merchant
for some time in silence, then added:
"For some of the lowest and basest
actions there is no punishment as
signed by law. The nature of your guilt
come* under this bead. Tou may go,
At this contemptuous dismissal
Brown sneaked from the room. When
he reached the foot of the stairs, he
stopped a moment to try to pull him
self together and resume his usual
manner. Then he walked down the
street to his place of business, sooth
ing his malicious soul with the thought
that Layburn and Meriweather would
lose the cotton they had hindered him
from appropriating. It was true that
he had been despised and suffered con
tumely, but he had sown his revenge
with a wide hand, and the seeds would
not fall to bear bitter fruit for hie ene
The Edge wood mansion, like most
ante-bellum Southern homes, was em
bowered in a mass of greenery. Great
oaks, stately relics of the primeval for
est, stood sentry about its wide door,
and here and there a lofty pine tow
ered in the air, lifting its crest above
all other growth, and as it swayed
softly in the breeze, sang to the ear of
fancy drowsy legends of the long ago.
The house itself was built ln the col
onnaded Grecian style, first introduced
by Thomas Jefferson soon after the
Revolution—a style eminently suited to
the warm climate of the South; and
up the white columns, softened by the
shade of the gnarled oaks, rose vines
and Jasmines, went clambering in a
riot of bloom and fragrance.
On one side of the house stretched
a spacious garden, filled with roses,
myrtles, pinks and other old-fashioned
flowers, Which grew and blossomed in!
a kind of wild liberty, delightful to the
In the center of this bosky Eden was
an old summer house covered with
trailing honeysuckle, whose graceful
tendrils interlaced lattice and roof in
so intricate a manner as to enable the
frail structure to defy the disintegrat
ing hand of time, even after the frame
work had gone to decay.
It was sunset, and Mary Edg*wood
was seated on a bench in the summer
house listening to old Ben Layburn,
who stood by the door with his hat in
his hand.
The girl was intensely interested, for
her snowy tatting had fallen unnoted
to the ground, and she clasped and un
clasped her hands as if she were great
ly troubled.
"Miss Mary, you ax me how black
Jake find all dls out when he done lef
de room? Dis de way hit was, young
miss. When de cap'n let Jake out de
door, Jake say he skeered to go down
dem back stairs kaze he didn't know
whar Brown mought be, so he crouched
down outside de door. Den when
Brown come back in de room whar de
cap'n was, Jake 'Ilowed he'd listen and
hear how de lan lay wid Brown and
de cap'n. Jake say he curls to know
ef de cap'n gwine stan' by him lak he
said he gwine do."
"And you are sure, Uncle Ben, that
Captain Adams ls going to arrest Mr.
Layburn and Mr. Meriweather and
take the cotton away from them?"
"Dat what he gwine do, Miss Mary.
Jake hyem him say dat he's powerful
sorry dat his duty compels him to act
on de Inflammation."
The young girl's anxiety deepened
and her fingers trembled visibly.
"An' I knows, Miss Mary, dat Cap'n
Adams is gwine arrest Marse Alf dis
night. Kaze when I hyem Jake's tale
I went a-pyrootin" down to de garri
son, and I cotch a word or two what
de cap'n drap, an' lay in' dem words
'longside o' wha< I knows already, I
ilow de cap'n's sroly gwine Jail Marse
Alf an' Marse Jack dis night 'fore sun
"Haven't you warned Mr. Layburn?"
"Bless Gawd, Miss Mary, I dunno
whar he ls. He and Marse Jack went
off together dis mornin' an' Marse Alf
aln' been back since. But dey's corn
in' back to-night for I hyem 'em say
dey gwine carry dat cotton to Mobile
on de steamboat what goes down de
river to-night."
"H*v» you Informed Mrs. Lay bum
the danger that threatens her son?"
asked the girl.
"No, Miss Mary, I am' tole her noth
in" 'bout It, 'twouldn't hep Marse Alt.
An' ole miss, she's dat ole and shaky
de shoe* mought kill her," said old
Ben. " 'Sides dat. Miss Mary, I knowed
Marse Alt didn't want ole miss to
know nothin' 'bout dat cotton till hit
was sole and he had de money in his
han", kaze, you see, he's plannin' to
give ole miss a pleasant surprise,"
added the old negro, looking earnestly
at Miss Edgewood.
"Why have you come to me, Uncle
Ben. I am only a weak woman and
can do nothing," said the girl, picking
up her tatting and trying to resume her
"Miss Mary, I come to you kaze I
was nlgli crazy, an' I was bleeged to
talk to somebody," said tine old negro,
with faltering voice, and tugging at his
old wool hat. "Den —den, Miss Mary, I
knowed how hit Stan's 'tween you an'
Marse Alf. 'Taint all for de miss dat
Marse Alf's resking hisself to get dis
cotton. Purthermo', Miss Mary, I come
to you kaze dar's some'h'n' you kin do
to hep Marse Alf, ef so be you'll dcs
do hit."
Old Ben eyed the girl closely as she
struggled with her tatting.
"Ez you say, young miss, you's weak
an' you's a woman. But some times
de weakest ls de mos' powerful. You
know de Scrlpter say dat David laid
out Goliah wld a pebble frum de
brook an' a sling."
"Surely, TTncle Ben, you don't wish
me to kill Captain Adams with a pair
of scissors," said Mary Edgewood,
"No, little miss, I don't want yer to
do no killln' 'cep'n wld yo' pretty face
an' de sweetness of your voice," said
Ben. Then advancing a step under the
honeysuckle vine he added in a lower
" 'Pears to dlB ole nigger dat It you
was to ax de cap'n not to tetch Marse
Alf, and to let dat cotton alone ha
mought do hit. You see, hit's dis way,
Miss Mary. De war's over an' done
wid, an' what good would hit do to
Jail Marse Alf?. He ain't gwine fight
no more. An' what in de name o'
Gawd would be de use o' takin' dat
cotton "way frum Marse Alf and Marse
Jack? De Unointed States is so rich
hit wouldn't make 'em much richer,
and hit would make Marse Alf and
Marse Jack mons'ous poor. Dem young
marsers b'longs to de quality, an' dey
dcs bleeged to have some money to buy
plows and corn and mules to start
plantin' wid, for, de Lawd knows, ef
de quality ain't 'llowed to have noth
in" an' de country's is give up to de
poor white trash what never seed 'le
inside of a carriage and never rid be
hine a Kaintucky horse, what's gwine
come o' dis poor 'stracted lan!"
"But, Uncle Ben, Captain Adams
may not grant my request," said the
girl, meditatively.
"Well, if so be he don't, Miss Mary,
we won't be no wuss off. But, Lawd,
he ain't gwine say no, dat he ain't.
You knows, little missie, dat you never
looked a man squeer In de face wid
dem blue eyes of yourn an ax him to
do some'h'n' an' he never done hit. An'
de cap'n ain't gwine be de fust one to
say no, for a soldier can't refuse a
pretty 'oman nothin'."
Uncle Ben scanned the girl's face to
see the effect of his reasoning, and,
perceiving that she still hesitated, he
brought forward his latst and strong
est argument.
"Furthermo', Miss Mary, hit's dcs
impossible for de cap'n to say no.
Didn't you an' your ma' take him home
an' nuss him when he was at de pint
o' death. Bless Gawd, dat man would
a been dead dis minute ef he had a
staid in dat ar prison, and he knows
hit. An', little miss, do you know whut
de culled folks say?"
"What do they say, Uncle Ben?"
''Well, de culled folks 'How, an' dey's
good at readin', dat de cap'n loves you
mighty nigh as hard es Marse Alf.,
Now, dar's some men would do deiri
level best in dem conditions to git
Marse Alf In trouble, but de cap'n ain't [
dat kine."
"Does Captain Adams know that Mr.
Layburn and I are,—are fereat
"Yes, Miss Mary, he got hit from
Jake. 'Cordln' dat nigger's account he
dcs turned hlsself wrong side out."
It was now quite dark, and Mary
Edgewood rose to return to the house.
She had almost resolved to follow Ben's
suggestion and seek an interview with
Adams in behalf of her lover. One lin
gering doubt remained, and she said
to the negro as she left the summer
"I will do what I can, Uncle Ben. I
have great respect for Captain Adams.
I believe he is conscientious, and for
that reason I fear he may think that
his duty forbids him to grant my re
Old Ben scratched his head.
"I'm dcs an ole nigger, Miss Mary,
but hit 'pears to me hit would be more
lak duty for de cap'n to favor two Irnn
erble young gentlemen of de quality
lak Marse Alf and Marse Jack, dan to
play Into be lian' of a under handed
man lak dat Brown whut used to be
a nigger trader."
Mary Edgewood did not tell her
mother of her Intended Interview with
Captain Adams lest she might forbid
it. But she took her negro mammy.
Aunt Martha, into her confidence, and
Informed the old woman that she must
accompany her. The faithful creature
was vastly Impressed by the import
ance of the proposed visit, and im
mensely flattered by the position of
trust that she was invited to fill. It
afforded Mary much comfort to And
that Aunt Martha saw no impropriety
in the proceeding. Garbed in a large
figured calico gown and a voluminous
white apron, and her head encircled
by an enormous turban, Aunt Martha,
with her two hundred and fifty pounds
of flesh, deemed herself a chaperone for
a princess.
"Honey," said the old creature, "ef
yo' ma' ain't to know nothin' 'bout dis
business wid de cap'n, you can't go till
ten o'clock. By dat time ole mlss'll be
snoozln' away ln her bed an' we can
crope away unbeknownst."
"Very well, Aunt Martha."
"An", honey, 'taln't nothin' wrong
what we gwine do, but to keep meddle
some folks from talkin', you better
wear a thick veil."
By ten o'clock the stillness of night
had settled down upon the little coun
try town, and tne young girl crept out
of the gate with her faithful attend
ant, and gilded along through the
darkest and least frequented streets to
ward Captain Adams' quarters. If her
heart continued to throb as tumult
ously when she arrived in his presence,
she feared that ahe might not be able
to tell her errand.
When they reached the barracks
they were stopped by a sentinel.
"Halt!" said the soldier, "who comes
Mary Edgewood'■ heart almost
stopped beating, and she could not ut
ter a sound. That she would be halt
ed by a sentinel had never occurred to
"Who comes there, I say?" repeated
the soldier.
"Somebody to see de cap'n," said old
Martha, stepping forward ln front of
"Who Is It?" said the sentinel, still
barring the way.
"Mr. Soldier, we don't want no fool
ishness," said the old negress, swell
ing up as only a negro can. "Hit's a
lady o' de quality what's got pressln'
business wld de cap'n."
"Who is this lady of quality?" per
sisted the sentinel.
"Look a hyer, Mr. Soldier man, hit's
de lady o' quality whut nussed de cap'n
when he was sick and brung him back
to life, an' if you don't let her pass you
gwine git yo'se'f in trouble, you sholy
The sentinel laughed and gave way,
and as the young girl and her attend-
ant passed him he politely directed
them where he said they would find the
Adams did not occupy his office in
the evening, but the room across the
hall, to which Brown had withdrawn
that morning during the officer's ex
amination of Black Jake. This apart
ment, though far from luxurious in its
appointments, was fitted up with some
regard to comfort. It contained a pair
of easy chairs, a lounge and a num
ber of rugs. The walls were adorned
with a few good pictures and decorat
ed with several articles of bric-a-brac,
mostly of a military character. At
the moment of Mary Edgewood's visit,
the owner of the apartment was sit
ting in one of the easy chairs, smok
ing his pipe, and never dreaming of the
great honor about to be paid him.
"Come in," he caiiea out in response
to Aunt Martha's knock.
It was his orderly, he thought, and
did not turn his head.
"Well, what do you want?"
Captain Adams " began Mary
The officer sprang to his feet as if
he were electrified.
"Miss Edgewood!" he exclaimed, and
stepping quickly forward he placed a
chair, Into which the young girl sank
trembling from head to foot.
"Thank yer, sah," said old Martha to
the captain, with a curtsy. Then turn
ing quickly to her young mistress,
"Thar—thar, honey, set right still and
repose yerse'f. Dar ain't a bit o' hur
ry, not a bit in de world."
"Let me bring a glass of water," said
Adams, hastily fetching a goblet of ice
water from an adjoining room, for
which Mary thanked him silently with
a glance of her blue eyes.
Meantime Aunt Martha began to fan
her young mistress with an Immense
turkuy-tail fan.
"Cap'n," said the old negress across
the turkey tail; "vlewin' de fact dat
you is a geni'man who's been a gues'
o' de Edgewood fambly, my little mis
sle hopes dat de pressln' nature of her
business will 'scuse de onexpectedness
of her visit dis evening."
"Certainly, Aunt Martha," said the
captain, who still remained standing.
"A visit from Miss Edgewood does me
honor at any time; and whatever may
be the nature of her business, I am so
grateful to the young lady and her
mother that any opportunity to serve
them will afford me a pleasure Impos
sible to express." The young officer
addressed Aunt Martha, but his eyes
were fixed upon Mary Edgewood.
As a sunflower drinks the sunlight,
the old negress listened to the captain's
words, and when he finished her face
beamed with satisfaction.
Meantime her young mistress had ln
a great measure recovered from her
"Do not stand, Captain Adams; my
business may occupy several minutes,"
said the young girl, stopping Aunt
Martha's fan with a gentle gesture.
The officer took a chair. In his sur
prise and pleasure at seeing Mary
Edgewood, It had not occurred to him
that she might have come to Intercede
with him ln behalf of Layburn and
Meriweather. Consequently the dis
agreeable thought that duty might
force him to deny her request never
entered his mind. After a rather long
pause, he wondered why she did not
disclose her mission.
"Your mother is well, I hope, Miss
Edgewood?" said Adams.
"Quite well, Captain."
"And all is well at home?" continued
the young man, trying at random to
afford an opening for the young girl.
"Quite so."
The Indescribable expectant stillness
which often precedes the introduction
of an important topic, settled upon the
room after the last reply, and the ten
sion grew with each second. It was
impossible to speak of indifferent sub
jects. The silence finally becoming; un
bearable, Mary spoke.
"Captain Adams, I have been told
that you intend to arrest Mr. Meri
weather and Mr. Layburn to-night. Is
It true?"
Adams' mind was instantly illumi
nated in regnrd to the visit, the em-
barrassment—all. It would be very
painful—the remainder of the inter
view, and he would need all his resolu
tion to avoid granting the request of
this woman whom he loved better than
all the world, and loved hopelessly
loved hopelessly, unless —at this point
a horrible temptation assailed him.
Alfred Layburn arrested, it would not
be difficult to dispose of him and leave
a clear field to himself. Only for a
moment did he suffer the base Idea to
linger In his mind. With a mighty ef
fort 'he put It aside, but it left him ter
ribly shaken.
"I regret to say, Miss Edgewood, that
your Information Is correct."
"Of what crime, may I ask, are these
gentlemen accused?" asked the young
girl diplomatically. t ,
What Right Have You to Attach My Cotton?"
"The cause of their arrest is the ap
propriation of certain bales of cotton
collected as tax in kind by the gov
ernment of the late Southern Confed
eracy, vhich cotton, by the surrender
of the Confederate authorities, civil
and military, has become the property
of the government at Washington."
"Has the detachment been sent to
make the arrest?"
"Not yet. I have ascertained that It
is the intention of Messrs. Layburn
and Meriweather to take the cotton to
Mobile by the boat which leaves to
night. I have deemed It most conven
ient as well as fitting to make the ar
rest at the moment of departure."
"I presume, Captain Adams, that, as
an officer ln the Federal army, you will
deny that the Confederate government
had any legal or moral right to collect
taxes from the people of the southern
states?" sn.ld Miss Mary quietly.
"Certainly I do. Being In rebellion
against the national government It had
no rights whatever. All taxes collect
ed by the authorities at Richmond
Does Captain Adams Know That Mr, Layburn and I Are Great FriendsT
were nothing less than masked rob
"And you think that robbery does not.
impair the right of the original own
er?" continued the girl quickly.
"Certainly not, Miss Edgewood," re
plied the officer, never dreaming of the
snare that was being laid for* him.
"Then, captain, what right have you
as an official of the United States gov
ernment to attach my cotton? Some
of the bales that you propose to selxe
to-night came from my plantation;
they were part of a tax that I could
not avoid paying, and according to
your assertion their collection was a
masked robbery; what is true of a por
tion of the cotton is true of It all. Now,
iwhat right have you to attach that
cotton and perpetuate what you have
declared to be a robbery?"
Adams saw the pitfall, but It was
too late. He turned very red, and after
beginning several sentences and inter
rupting himself, he said finally:
"It would take a long time to explain
the matter clearly. Miss Edgewood. In
brief, this cotton was collected to de
fray the expenses of the rebel govern
ment, and it Is part of my duty to seize
all contraband of war."
The officer concluded the sentence
complacently, as If glad to find him
self on firm ground once more. His
self-congratulation was premature.
"Captain Adams, how could this
cotton be used to defray the expenses
of the Confederate government, when
the Confederacy no longer exists, and
how can it be termed contraband of
war when the war has ended?"
The officer bit his Hps and said noth
At this point Aunt Martha nodded
her head triumphantly, but the young
girl repressed any satisfaction that
she may have felt, and lowering her
voice till it was scarcely louder than
the night breeze outside, she added:
"You see, there are two sides to the
question, Captain, consequently let us
arrange a compromise and call this
cotton nobody's property."
"And If I agree?" asked Adams.
"Then, Captain, let the cotton re
main in the possession of the present
"I —cannot, Miss Edgewood. When I
was assigned the command of thlß
post, I was put upon my honor."
"True," said the girl; "but you were
allowed some latitude of judgment ln
the performance of your duties. Hon
or demands that you should be just, of
course, but Justice may be tempered
with mercy. Think of the malicious
motive of the base person who brought
you the information. Then call to
mind the necessities of the two young
men. Captain, do not make the ar
Adams was silent.
"Captain, Mr. Layburn and Mr. Meri-
weather are almost penniless, and if
you take this cotton and send them to
prison there are those dependent upon
them who may suffer."
The officer was still silent.
She drew nearer.
"You profess great esteem for my
mother; let these young men go free
for her sake, —for mine."
Adams felt that he must soon yield,
but he felt a self-tormenting, morbid
desire to hear the girl own her love for
"Give me another reason?" he said
He felt how ungenerous was the ex
action, but he could not keep back the
Mary Edgewood understood.
"Do not harm Alfred Layburn, for he
Is the man I love."
Adams still delayed, and the next
moment the whistle of a steamboat
rang through the night. At the sound
Mary Edgewood clasped her hands to
gether and exclaimed Joyfully:
"The boat is oft, and he ls safe—he
Is safe!"
"Miss Edgewood, you forget that
there Is telegraphic communication be
tween Onkville and Mobile."
"Oh, Captain, you will not tele
graph!" said the girl with tears ln her
blue eyes.
The man looked at the girl with the
hopeless love that only the eyes can
"No, I will not telegraph."
Mysterious Old Man Who Follows a
Most Peculiar Occupation on the
Shores of Lake George.
Nobody ever knew Rattlesnake Davis
by any other name. That might have
been his Christian name and his sir
name for ought of evidence to the con
trary, and while there was firm cre
dence in the belief that Davis was his
slrname, there was also a well ground
ed notion that if he had any patron it
was a rattlesnake. Rattlesnake Davis
never answered to any other name be
cause no one ever knew any other
name to call him, and no other appella
tive could possibly have been more ap
propriate or expressive, for he seemed
to have no other relation in life than
that which existed between him and
the only noise-makers of the reptile
Rattlesnake Davis is known to every
body who has ever come within the
borders of Warren County, New York.
He has been for years a lapsed tradi
tion to the folks who make the Lake
George country their home as well as
those who seek sport there ln winter or
cooling rest in summer time. No one
| knows where he lives. He was never
i suspected of having any relatives. His
whole life is wrapped in the coils of
the rattlesnake.
This reptile was never suspected of
having a pronounced commercial value
before Davis took it in hand. While he
doesn't farm them, he does harvest
them, and he makes them yield revenue
ln a surprising fashion. The federal
government, with a view to the exter
mination of the rattlesnake, offers a
bounty of twenty-five cents for every
set of rattles. It was this modest prof
it which first enticed Davis into his
strange profession. He next discov
ered that the oil of the rattlesnake had
a value. From this source he realizes
from 3eventy-five cents to one dollar
on every rattler killed. He next looked
to a market for the skins, which are
often very large, always substantial,
and frequently disclose glossy colora«
tions and shadings of exquisite tints.
According to the size and beauty of a
skin he gets from one to eight dollars
for it. In the aggregate then a snake
a day represents a good weekly profit.
He finds his market for the skins on
the verandas of the big summer hotels
on the shores of Lake George. The
weird effects in the sheets of scales
have an Inexplicable fascination for
women, who are his principal custom
ers. Frequently he brings his goods to
market alive in a glass-covered box.
He makes the uncanny monsters
squirm about, disclosing now a soft
shimmering skin, again a brown set of
scales shading to black, or a blue back
fading lmperceptbily into a yellow
Davis has spent years at his trade,
or his art, as his dexterity and expert
ness would suggest that even t>o un
canny an accomplishment would be
called, more years than any of the
Lake George folk remember. It seems
to them that the time wasn't when the
little old man with the hooked back
and bearded chin wasn't gliding a'ong
the shores with his primitive Inst: -
ments of capture on a hunt toe his
strange prey.
The available time, as he has held,
for capturing the rattlesnake is t.. early
dawn, and this is time of day when
he is most frequently seen abroad at
his professional labors. The reason
Davis has found Warren County so rich
a field ls'because the rattlesnake's epl
curian diet is the frog, and the shores
of Lake George are alive with the green
croakers. After an all-night musical
vigil the frog Is apt to be caught nap
ping about sunrise and this time the
rattler finds most propitious for his for
aging. The naturalist having discov
ered these traits bases his operations
upon them.
Davis' weapon is a long pair of wood
en shears, the leverage at the far end
like a pair of manicure scissors. He
has his own unrevealed method of ap
proaching his prey, but once located,
his long prongs are sure capture of his
victim, for his skill ls unerring. He
brings the two points of his wooden,
shears to bear on the snake Just back
of the head. Unless his prey is uncon
trollable and apt to be unduly annoy
ing he does not kill it. He removes the
fangs and makes the captive discharge
his deposit of poison and then boxes
him for future disposition. Sometimes
he kills him directly, sells the rattles
to the government and the oil to its
particular market. But If the reptile's
coat is particularly fine he saves him
alive, for the tortuous windings dis
close the light affected gloss In a seem
ingly Irresistible way to his fair patron*
on the hotel piazzas.
No one knows much about Rattle
snake Davis. He appears and dlsap-,
pears sometimes at intervals of weeks,
sometimes of months, mysteriously as
the reptiles he pursues ln the tall grass
and among the rocks on the lake shore.
His activity of years has not dimin
ished appreciably the native stock of
rattlers ln Warren County, and he is
not beyond a certain discrimination ln
singling his victims for market, for
they increase and multiply in spite of
his continued depredations and the
young are seen ln hurried flights down
their mother's throats at the approach
of strangers. He seems to have the
commercial possibilities of the Individ
ual snane well developed and If his
hunts have been persistent he must
have secreted somewhere a snug for
tune of which there Is no sign of out
ward and visible application ln his un
kempt pioneer clothes.
A novel mode at the moment Is to
have little crystal plates containing a
few fine berries, arranged on their own
leaves, placed before each guest at din
ner, the idea being to refresh the ap
petite between the various courses.

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