Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/84

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An Act of God

sip and many idle comments on Blackford's end. The chimney corner lawyers, riding out with the homing crowd, vapored upon Mr. Jefferson's Statute of Descents, and how Blackford's property would escheat to the state since there was no next of kin, and were met with the information that his lands and his cattle would precisely pay his debts, with an eagle or two beyond for a coffin. And, after the manner of lawyers, were not silenced, but laid down what the law would be if only the facts were agreeable to their premise. And the prophets, sitting in their wagons, assembled their witnesses and established the dates at which they had been prophetically delivered.

Evening descended, and the fair grounds were mostly deserted. Those who lived at no great distance had moved their live stock with the crowd and had given up their pens and stalls. But my father, who always brought a drove of prize cattle to these fairs, gave orders that we should remain until the morning. The distance home was too great and the roads were filled. My father's cattle were no less sacred than the bulls of Egypt, and not to be crowded by a wagon wheel or ridden into by a shouting drunkard.

The night fell. There was no moon, but the earth was not in darkness. The sky was clear and sown with stars like a seeded field. I did not go to bed in the cattle stall filled with clover hay under a hand-woven blanket, as I was intended to do. A young-