Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/45

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Uncle Abner

customs that we obey and that form and shape our lives? The dead! And the titles to our lands—have not the dead devised them? … If a surveyor runs a line he begins at some corner that the dead set up; and if one goes to law upon a question the judge looks backward through his books until he finds out how the dead have settled it—and he follows that. And all the writers, when they would give weight and authority to their opinions, quote the dead; and the orators and all those who preach and lecture—are not their mouths filled with words that the dead have spoken? Why, man, our lives follow grooves that the dead have run out with their thumbnails!"

He got on his feet and looked at Abner.

"What my brother has written in his will I will obey," he said. "Have you seen that paper, Abner?"

"I have not," said Abner, "but I have read the copy in the county clerk's book. It bequeathed these lands to you."

The hunchback went over to an old secretary standing against the wall. He pulled it open, got out the will and a pack of letters and brought them to the fire. He laid the letters on the table beside Abner's deed and held out the will.

Abner took the testament and read it.

"Do you know my brother's writing?" said Gaul.

"I do," said Abner.

"Then you know he wrote that will."