Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/16

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pard! They take me to the old home again. I see the white house 'mong the trees. I smell the breath of the apple-blossoms, and hear the birds singin' and the bees hummin', and the old plough-songs echoin' over the leetle valley. I see the river windin' through the willers an' sycamores, an' the dear ole hills all around, p'intin' up to heaven like the spires of big meetin'-houses. Thar's the ole rock we called the tea-table. I climb up on it, an' play a happy boy agin. Oh, if I'd only staid thar, pard!"

"Don't, Rough; ye thaw me all out, talkin' that. It makes me womanish."

"That's it, pard: we've kep' our hearts froze so long, we want it allus winter. But the summer comes back with all the light from over the Range. How bright it is, pard! Look! How it floods the cabin till the knots an' cobwebs are plainer than day."

"Suthin's wrong, Rough. It's all dark, 'cept only that pine-knot in the chimbly."

"No, it's all right, pard. The light's come over the Range. I kin see better'n I ever could. Kin see the moister in yer eyes, pard, an' see the crooked path I've come, runnin' clean back to my mother's knee. I wasn't allus called Rough. Somebody used to kiss me, an' call me her boy: nobody'll ever know I've kep' it till the end."

"I hev wanted to ax ye, mate, why ye never had any name but jist Rough?"

"Pard—it's gettin' dark—my name? I've never heard it since I left home. I buried it thar in the little churchyard, whar mother's waitin' for the boy that never come back. I can't tell it, pard. In my kit you'll find a package done up. Thar's two picters in it of two faces that's been hoverin' over me since I took down. You'll find my name thar, pard — thar with hers—an' mother's."

"Hers? Will I ever see her, Rough?"

"Not till you see her by the light that comes over the Range to us all. Pard, it's gettin' dark—dark and close—darker than it ever seemed to me afore"—

"Rough, what's the matter? Speak to me, mate. Can't I do nuthin' fer ye?"

"Yes—pard. Can't ye—say—suthin'?"

"What d'ye mean, Rough? I'll say any thing to please ye."

"Say—a—pra'r, pard."