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The Florida agriculturist. [volume] (DeLand, Fla.) 1878-1911, August 07, 1907, Image 14

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96027724/1907-08-07/ed-1/seq-14/

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The rural free delivery wagon stop
ped at the front gate, deposited the
morning mail in the tin box on the
fence, and went creaking down the
road through the sticky mud of a late
March thaw. But before it had pro
ceeded a hundred yards Amos Bradley
came shuffling out of the house and
made his way across the yard to the
mail box, his heavy overshoes splash
ing the slush right and left, and* his
faded old coat flapping in the wind.
He opened the box, and perching a
pair of ancient steel-bowed spectacles
on his nose, proceeded leisurely to
draw out and examine the contents. t
There were but two pieces of mail—
the county weekly paper and a thick
white envelope directed to his spinster
sister, who had kept house for him
since the death of his wife some ten
years ago.'
Amos closed the cover of the tin box
with a bang and went shuffling back
to the kitchen, where his sister, fully
fifteen years his junior, sat chopping
mince-meat in a great wooden bowl.
“M’ail’s come, Martha,” Amos an
nounced, “an 1 here’s a letter for ye.”
He passed her the thick white en
velope and sat down in a near-by
chair, querulously expectant.
Martha wiped her hands on her
apron and taking up the letter, ex
amined the superscription attentively.
‘‘You ain’t got any idea who it’s
from, I s’pose, have ye, Martha?”
Amos hinted broadly.
“Not the least,” said she. “’Twas
mailed here in town, I see from the
postmark. I don’t know who’d be
writin’ to me.”
She inserted a long, thin forefinger
beneath the flap of the envelope and
tore it open. Within was a second en
velope with her name inscribed in a
bold hand across the face. Martha
paused to read it, while Amos fidgeted.
“All envelope, ain’t it?” he asked
a little testily.
“No, I guess not,” she laughed.
“They’s somethin’ or other inside this
She drew out the contents of the
second envelope and opened its single
fold. A square of tissue paper flut
tered out and went zigzagging to the
floor. . .
Amos leaned forward in his chair,
his keen old eyes peering eagerly over
the bows of his spectacles.
“Of course, of course,’ said Martha,
scanning the heavily engraved lines.
“T might ’a’ known what it
the invitation to Elbe’s wedding. ’
“Is it?” said Amos, leaning yet near
“Yes, an’ I call it real neat, too,”
Martha declared, with the air of one
whose opinions in such matters car
ried weight. “Mrs. Robert Bagley
Thorpe,’” she read, “‘requests the
honor of your presence at the mar
riage of her daughter, Elinor—’ ”
Amos suddenly straightened himself
in his chair. “Where do you figger
mine is?” he interrupted the reading
to demand.
“Yours! Your what?” said his sis
te< ‘Mly invitation,” he explained.
“Didn’t you get one, too?” #
“No, I never,” he said, aggnevedly.
“There wa’nt anythin’ in the box but
the paper and that invitation of
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, T am.”
He sat for some time ruminating
silently, his brows furrowed in per
plexed thought. Surely they had not
omitted him intentionally from the list
of guests! f ,
“P’r’aps that ones meant for ootn
of us,” he at length suggested, hope
fully. “How’s it directed, Martha?
His sister picked up the outer en
velope, which had slipped to the floor,
and looked narrowly at the super-
scription. “Just ‘Miss Martha B.
Bradley,’ ” she announced.
“Is it the same on tother one?”
“Just the same,” she said, after an
examination of the inner envelope.
“You’re sure there’s not a word
about me on either one of ’em, Mar
tha?” he demanded with evidently ris
ing anxiety.
“Not as I can see.”
“Don’t say ‘and family’ or anything
like that, does it?” he persisted
“Um-m, no,” she admitted, reluct
“Well, I snum,” —his disappoint
ment was apparent in every line of
his face, —“they ain’t a-goin’ to ask
“Oh, I don’t b’lieve—” she began.
“I do, if you don’t!” he interrupted,
with some heat. “They’ve left me out
a-purpose. Prob’ly they think because
I’m nigh eighty an’ a little mite deaf
that I’m too old to go to weddin’s.
P’r’aps they’re ’fraid I ain’t good
enough to meet all them folks that’s
cornin’ on; or maybe it worried ’em
for fear I’d eat with my knife. Elbe’s
the last one I sh’d ever thought would
get stuck up,” he ended, plaintively.
His eyes fell on a little table in one
corner of the kitchen, littered with
brass weights and small wooden
wheels and well-worn levers—the
works of an old hall clock he had been
repairing of late. It fanned his anger
into new and fiercer flame.
“An’ there’s gran’pap’s old clock I
was a-goin’ to give her, just because
she sets such a store by old things!”
he burst out. “Here I’ve been a
workin’ my daylights out to get it run
nin’ in good shape, an’ she not carin’
enough to invite me to the weddin’!
I’ll I’arn ’em! I’ll l’arn ’em how old
an’ decrepit I am!”
He rose and stalked wrathfully out
of the house. In times of stress such
as this the wood-pile was his greatest
solace, and thither he went now.
All the morning Martha heard the
drone of the saw and the sound of
the ax on the chopping block, but she
wisely refrained from interfering until
the midday dinner was on the table.
Then she put on her overshoes and
her hood and went across the back
“You better come into dinner an’
stop actin’ so ridiculous,” she coun
seled. “The idea of you bein’ out
here with your coat off! I. never
heard of such a thing in mv life!
You’ll get the rheumatism all over
In silence he followed her into the
house, but once in the kitchen, his
eyes fell again upon the stand in the
He strode over to it and stood re
garding it with narrowed eyes.
“Too old to git an invite to her
weddin,’ am I?” he mumbled. “Well,
if that’s so, I’m a good deal too old
to be a-tinkerin’ clocks to give her.”
His arm shot out and swept the
too of the little table clean.
Wboden wheels, levers and weights
fell crashing to the floor. He kicked
the debris viciously into the corner
and slammed the table bottom up, on
top of it.
/‘Maybe I am too old to go to wed
din’s! Maybe I am! But I ain’t so
old that I ain’t got some spunk left
yet;/ Now let’s have dinner.”
All the afternoon the old man sat
by the kitchen stove, pretending to
read the paper, but Martha noticed
that every few moments he laid the
paper aside to stare lons - and silently
through the western window at the
bleak vista of fields and the ragged
line of hills beyond. That he was
deeply hurt there could be 110 doubt.
She felt a growing resentment to
ward the thoughtlessness of the
“I shouldn’t ’a’ thought they’d ’a’
forgotten him/' she told herself. “I
declare, it’s too bad of Ellie! He’s
takin’ it dretful hard.”
In her halting, clumsy fashion she
tried to comfort her brother, but her
(attempts were such signal failures
that she finally gave it up, and left
him to his paper and his brooding.
It was just at dusk that the back
door opened and someone came brisk
ly into the little kitchen. Amos laid
aside his paper and looked up.
“Why, Ellie Thorpe!” he heard his
sister’s voice exclaiming. “Come in.
Ain’t you cold?”
“Cold? Indeed not,” laughed the
girl. “Hello, Uncle Amos!”
He straightened himself in his chair.
“Good evenin’!” he said, coldly.
The girl drew a chair beside his.
In the gloom of the room she could
not see the pain and disappointment
in his face, but something in his tones
told her of trouble. “What’s the mat
ter, Uncle Amos?” she asked. “Aren’t
you well?”
“Oh, I’m toler’ble, toler’ble,” the
old man replied, with a reserve that
she had never seen in him before.
“I came over,” she said, “especially
to bring you this.” She thrust a thick
white envelope in his hands.
He took it and fumbled it awkward
ly, turning it over and over.
“What —is it?” he asked, haltingly.
“It’s your invitation to the wedding,
Uncle Amos,” she laughed. “The boys
took them down to the office to mail
last night, and somehow this one of
yours was caught in the bottom of
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For 10 Cents
e N
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the basket. I found it there this af
ternoon. I wouldn’t have had yours
delayed for the world,” she added,
The old man bent forward to bring
the fading light from the window on
the envelope. There was his name
across it in the same bold hand. He
coughed weakly.
“I’m much obliged, Ellie, much
obliged,” he said, brightening up per
“And you’re coming, aren’t you
Uncle Amos?” she asked.
“Cornin’? Of‘course I am!” he de
clared, with emphasis.
“I’m awfully sorry it happened this
way,” she said, “for I wanted you to
have your invitation as soon as it
could be sent. And, Uncle Amos,”
she said, drawing her chair closer to
his, “you know there’s no one to give
me away at the wedding—no father or
brothers, I mean —and I want you to
do that for me. Will you?”
“Me?” he echoed, with an ill-con
cealed touch of pride. “I ain’t fit to.
You don’t want sech an old fossil as
I am” —
“Yes, I do,” she interrupted. “I
shall count on you.’ 1 '
“Well,’ he announced judicially, “if
you’re terrible set on it, maybe I
When Martha returned to the kit
chen, after she had tendered her visi
tor the unusual honor of being shown
through the frigid hall to the front
door, she found Amos'on his knees be
fore the little pile of wheels and lev-

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