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Strangers and Wayfarers   By: (1849-1909)

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Boston and New York

Houghton, Mifflin and Company

The Riverside Press, Cambridge

Copyright, 1890,


All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.

Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.


S. W.




A Winter Courtship

The Mistress of Sydenham Plantation

The Town Poor

The Quest of Mr. Teaby

The Luck of the Bogans

Fair Day

Going to Shrewsbury

The Taking of Captain Ball

By the Morning Boat

In Dark New England Days

The White Rose Road



The passenger and mail transportation between the towns of North Kilby and Sanscrit Pond was carried on by Mr. Jefferson Briley, whose two seated covered wagon was usually much too large for the demands of business. Both the Sanscrit Pond and North Kilby people were stayers at home, and Mr. Briley often made his seven mile journey in entire solitude, except for the limp leather mail bag, which he held firmly to the floor of the carriage with his heavily shod left foot. The mail bag had almost a personality to him, born of long association. Mr. Briley was a meek and timid looking body, but he held a warlike soul, and encouraged his fancies by reading awful tales of bloodshed and lawlessness, in the far West. Mindful of stage robberies and train thieves, and of express messengers who died at their posts, he was prepared for anything; and although he had trusted to his own strength and bravery these many years, he carried a heavy pistol under his front seat cushion for better defense. This awful weapon was familiar to all his regular passengers, and was usually shown to strangers by the time two of the seven miles of Mr. Briley's route had been passed. The pistol was not loaded. Nobody (at least not Mr. Briley himself) doubted that the mere sight of such a weapon would turn the boldest adventurer aside.

Protected by such a man and such a piece of armament, one gray Friday morning in the edge of winter, Mrs. Fanny Tobin was traveling from Sanscrit Pond to North Kilby. She was an elderly and feeble looking woman, but with a shrewd twinkle in her eyes, and she felt very anxious about her numerous pieces of baggage and her own personal safety. She was enveloped in many shawls and smaller wrappings, but they were not securely fastened, and kept getting undone and flying loose, so that the bitter December cold seemed to be picking a lock now and then, and creeping in to steal away the little warmth she had. Mr. Briley was cold, too, and could only cheer himself by remembering the valor of those pony express drivers of the pre railroad days, who had to cross the Rocky Mountains on the great California route. He spoke at length of their perils to the suffering passenger, who felt none the warmer, and at last gave a groan of weariness.

"How fur did you say 't was now?"

"I do' know's I said, Mis' Tobin," answered the driver, with a frosty laugh. "You see them big pines, and the side of a barn just this way, with them yellow circus bills? That's my three mile mark."

"Be we got four more to make? Oh, my laws!" mourned Mrs. Tobin. "Urge the beast, can't ye, Jeff'son? I ain't used to bein' out in such bleak weather. Seems if I couldn't git my breath. I'm all pinched up and wigglin' with shivers now. 'T ain't no use lettin' the hoss go step a ty step, this fashion."

"Landy me!" exclaimed the affronted driver. "I don't see why folks expects me to race with the cars. Everybody that gits in wants me to run the hoss to death on the road. I make a good everage o' time, and that's all I can do. Ef you was to go back an' forth every day but Sabbath fur eighteen years, you'd want to ease it all you could, and let those thrash the spokes out o' their wheels that wanted to... Continue reading book >>

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