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Stories of a Western Town   By: (1850-1934)

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By Octave Thanet


The Besetment of Kurt Lieders

The Face of Failure

Tommy and Thomas

Mother Emeritus

An Assisted Providence

Harry Lossing


A SILVER rime glistened all down the street.

There was a drabble of dead leaves on the sidewalk which was of wood, and on the roadway which was of macadam and stiff mud. The wind blew sharply, for it was a December day and only six in the morning. Nor were the houses high enough to furnish any independent bulwark; they were low, wooden dwellings, the tallest a bare two stories in height, the majority only one story. But they were in good painting and repair, and most of them had a homely gayety of geraniums or bouvardias in the windows. The house on the corner was the tall house. It occupied a larger yard than its neighbors; and there were lace curtains tied with blue ribbons for the windows in the right hand front room. The door of this house swung back with a crash, and a woman darted out. She ran at the top of her speed to the little yellow house farther down the street. Her blue calico gown clung about her stout figure and fluttered behind her, revealing her blue woollen stockings and felt slippers. Her gray head was bare. As she ran tears rolled down her cheeks and she wrung her hands.

"Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh, lieber Herr Je!" One near would have heard her sob, in too distracted agitation to heed the motorneer of the passing street car who stared after her at the risk of his car, or the tousled heads behind a few curtains. She did not stop until she almost fell against the door of the yellow house. Her frantic knocking was answered by a young woman in a light and artless costume of a quilted petticoat and a red flannel sack.

"Oh, gracious goodness! Mrs. Lieders!" cried she.

Thekla Lieders rather staggered than walked into the room and fell back on the black haircloth sofa.

"There, there, there," said the young woman while she patted the broad shoulders heaving between sobs and short breath, "what is it? The house aint afire?"

"Oh, no, oh, Mrs. Olsen, he has done it again!" She wailed in sobs, like a child.

"Done it? Done what?" exclaimed Mrs. Olsen, then her face paled. "Oh, my gracious, you DON'T mean he's killed himself "

"Yes, he's killed himself, again."

"And he's dead?" asked the other in an awed tone.

Mrs. Lieders gulped down her tears. "Oh, not so bad as that, I cut him down, he was up in the garret and I sus suspected him and I run up and oh, he was there, a choking, and he was so mad! He swore at me and he kicked me when I I says: 'Kurt, what are you doing of? Hold on till I git a knife,' I says for his hands was just dangling at his side; and he says nottings cause he couldn't, he was most gone, and I knowed I wouldn't have time to git no knife but I saw it was a rope was pretty bad worn and so so I just run and jumped and ketched it in my hands, and being I'm so fleshy it couldn't stand no more and it broke! And, oh! he he kicked me when I was try to come near to git the rope off his neck; and so soon like he could git his breath he swore at me "

"And you a helping of him! Just listen to that!" cried the hearer indignantly.

"So I come here for to git you and Mr. Olsen to help me git him down stairs, 'cause he is too heavy for me to lift, and he is so mad he won't walk down himself."

"Yes, yes, of course. I'll call Carl. Carl! dost thou hear? come! But did you dare to leave him Mrs. Lieders?" Part of the time she spoke in English, part of the time in her own tongue, gliding from one to another, and neither party observing the transition.

Mrs. Lieders wiped her eyes, saying: "Oh, yes, Danke schon, I aint afraid 'cause I tied him with the rope, righd good, so he don't got no chance to move. He was make faces at me all the time I tied him." At the remembrance, the tears welled anew... Continue reading book >>

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