Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/223

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Uncle Abner

"Why don't you look in the cow?"

The idle gossips puzzled over that. What did it mean? Was the thing a sort of taunt? And did the old man mean that since these persons had looked into every nook and corner of his house, they ought also to have looked into the red mouth of the cow? Or did he mean that his money was invested in cattle and there was the place to look? Or was the thing a cryptic sentence—like that of some ancient oracle—in which the secret to his hoarded gold was hidden?

At any rate it was certain that old Christian was not afraid to go away and leave his door open, and the secret to guard itself. And he was justified in that confidence. The mischievous gave over their inquisitions, and the mystery became a sort of legend.

With the eyes of the curious thus on him, and that mystery for background, it was little wonder that his tragic death fired the country.

I have said there was a horror about the dead man's face as he sat straining in the chair. And the thing was in truth a horror! But that word does not tell the story. The eyes, the muscles of his jaw, the very flesh upon his bones seemed to strain with some deadly resolution, as though the indomitable spirit of the man, by sheer determination, would force the body to do its will, even after death was on it. And here there was a curious thing. It was not about the house, where his treasure might have

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