Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/93

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Uncle Abner

His mistakes, then, are mistakes of the eye and not of the ear. And in this he differs from every man who can hear; for the man who can hear, when he is uncertain about the spelling of a word, spells it as it sounds phonetically, using not a letter that looks like the correct one, but a letter that sounds like it—using 's' for 'c' and 'o' for 'u'—a thing no deaf mute would ever do in this world, because he does not know what letters sound like. Consequently, when I saw the words in this letter misspelled by sound—when I saw that the person who had written this letter remembered his word as a sound, and by the arrangement of the letters in it was endeavoring to indicate that sound—I knew he could hear."

The old man did not reply, but he rose and stood before my uncle. He stood straight and fearless, his long white hair thrown back, his bronzed throat exposed, his face lifted, and his eyes calm and level, like some ancient druid among his sacred oak trees.

And I crowded my face against the cracked panel, straining to hear what he would say.

"Monsieur," he said, "I have done an act of justice, not as men do it, but as the providence of God does it. With care and with patience I have accomplished every act, so that to the eyes of men it bore the relation and aspect of God's providence. And all who saw were content but you. You have pried and ferreted behind these things, and now you must bear the obligations of your knowledge."

He spread out his hands toward the sleeping girl.