Dick and I, Chapter 2, 19th Century Unpublished Book by S. B. McKenney

Dick and I

Dick and I by Samuel Bartow McKenney

This manuscript was written before 1881 by Samuel Bartow McKenney. In the transcription I’ve not changed spellings or punctuation unless I absolutely must for coherence. There were no periods in the manuscript and I have added those.

Chapter II

But, hoply, a poor artisan
Searched, ceaselessly, ’till he
Found, safe asleep, the little one,
Beneath a beechun tree.

Campbell

Her eyes
were black as death, their lashes the same hue
Of down cast length in whose silk shadows lie
Deepest attraction

Byron

A few days afterwards, taking with me a light fowling piece I
started on a ramble through the woods taking the direction of
Carsons Bay.

There was no road, but an old path wound through the mazes of the
forest and was almost covered with crimson maple leaves, with here
and there a bright yellow one from the aspens; or popples as the
people there termed them while the oaks and basswoods gave them
more modest tinted offerings with a quiet quiet hand.

The ironwoods elms and white birches were all gorgeously arrayed
and were slowly and silently covering their roots with the soft
splendor of their apparel. The air was cool, light and bracing and
gave one from its excess of oxygen a boyant and exhilerated
feeling amounting almost to intoxication.

A little red squirel darted up on the trunk of an oak and
chattered and frisked his tail keeping time to his own music by
tramping his hind feed and acted much as though he were
intoxicated or filled with a sort of exhileration and wanted all
the world to see how happy he was.

The path ran down a gentle slope covered with dark growth of
gigantic maples and skirted one of those gloomy looking tamarac
swamps that are so numerous in Northern Minnesota.
The change from the bright autumn tinted forest to the dusky gloom
of the swamp was indeed striking. The trees grow very straight and
tapering and often attain a height of a hundred and fifty feet.

– 4 –

Still the very largest seldom measures over twenty inches in
diameter at the base.

The swamps up which they grow appear to have formerly been lakes
that have been covered over with a floating bog that is
intracately woven together by a net work of their roots. A man can
stand on this bog and shake the tops of the tallest trees and
indeed of several of them, by simply springing up and down.
Some partridge flew up from a clump of back haw bushes where they
had been feeding and allighted on some small ironwoods near by
The feelings of the dreamer were exchanged for those of the
sportsman and my gun was soon ringing cherrily on the morning air
I had succeeded in bringing down three of the fluttering birds and
was aiming on a fourth when I was startled by the crack of a rifle
near by and my bird fell to the earth minus a head. Turning
partially around toward the place from whence the sound proceeded
I was greeted with a light laugh from Rashboy who held his smoking
rifle in his hand.

“Rather an unmannely trick,” said he, “but really I could not resist
the temptation of giving you a little suprise. Pray pardon my
rudeness,” said he advancing and giving me his hand. “If there
were any rudeness,” I replied. “I entirely lost sight of it in the
pleasure I experienced in meeting you”.

“Which pleasure is mutual I assure you I have had enough of my
own dark thoughts for one day and prefer more cheerful company. If
you care to extend your hunt about a mile over to Chapmans Point I
shall be very glad of your company. I think you will find the
shooting better.”

“With pleasure. I have been there by water and I think the sien is
beautiful whether there is any game or not.”

“Yes the view is fine. I should like to make a sketch or two if
you will wait on me when we get there.”

“Why of course I”ll wait.”

“Come on then I want to get there in time for dinner.”

“Dinner?”

“Yes.”

“I thouht there was no one living on the point.”

“Neither is there,” he replied “but if you will allow me to act as
cook I think with the assistance of our game bags I can improvise
a dinner that will be better than dining on this empty air which
by the way appears to be a great appitizer here.”

“I am at your service if there is to be any prospect of dinner.”

“What game have you?”

“Two partridges.”

“Good! I have one and some bread and butter that my landlady put
up for me — Our course lies in this direction now,” said he

– 5 –

diverging from the path and going westward.

“You are dormicled at the Maplewood house then are you?”

“Yes — and if I can’t boast of such a picturesque host as you
for her lack the flannel had and moth patches which when viewed by
the flicking glare of the fire light has such a striking effect.
Still the deficincy is made more reconcilable by the (tre —- ) he
posseses in his landlady. She is indeed an excellent person — to
make toast and coffee and then she feels so kindly interested in
your shirt buttons ~~ and private papers when they are not locked
up.”

“Don’t you find her solicetude a little annoying some –”

“Hark! What is that.”

“I hear nothing.”

“There it is again!” he replied after listening for a moment “lt
sounds like a child crying and can not be far off.”

I listened attentively. A sobbing wailing cry came floating
through the trees.

“How in the name of all that is wild could a child get here in
this wilderness,” I exclaimed.

“I dont know. We will soon see.”

And with long rapid strides my companion started in the direction
of the sound Some times the noise would cease and we would be
obliged to wait until it was repeated when we would push rapidly
forward Presently it ceased altogether and we came to a
standstill.

“I am enclined to think Mr. Rashboy that the sounds we have been
following were made by some cowboy who has been ammusing himself
at our expense.”

“I hope so but I dont believe it.”

“What shall we do?”

“Continue our search: I had rather risk being laughed at than risk
leaving any one in distress.”

“All right let us go on.”

“Stay! Let us separate and push forward a few rods apart.”

We according proceeded slowly about six rod apart for some time in
silence; looking carefully into every little cope of Kinnikinic
and Wild Currant bushes and I was beginning to tire of what I
mentally termed a wild goose chase I turned toward Rashway for
the purpose of proposing a cessation of the search when I saw him
gazing intently at his feet. At that insistance he turned toward
me and silent beckoned me to approach. I noticed as I advanced
that there was a softened look in his eyes and expression on his
face that I had never seen there before.

– 6 –

“What is it?” I asked as I reached his side.

“”Hist! Look!”

On the mossy roots of an old maple lay a child, a little girl,
apparent about three years old, fast asleep; the brown curls were
dishelved and partially concealed the sweet tear stained face
nested on one little chubby arm and a large pearly tear still
glistened in the long fringes of the closed eye lid. Both face and
arms were shown out clearly and softly by the dark green moss on
which she which she reclined. Some withered flowers, a few bright tinted
leaves and a sprig pf scarlet bitter sweet berries had fallen from
the listless fingers of the other hand to the ground. Rashboy laid
aside his rifle and knelt down and gathered the little sleeper, as
tenderly as her won mother might have done, in his arms.

“Poor Baby” said he softly dissing the tear stained face. “You have
cried yourself to sleep away off here in this lonesome wood with
no one to wipe the tears away. Come, Ethridge, lets go home.”

“But,” I replied, “her parents may be near and are now hunting for
her.”

“Let them hunt,” he exclaimed almost fiercely. “The parent that
would allow a little one like this to wander off alone in this
infernal wilderness do not deserve to ever find her., But stay,” he
added seating himself on a log with the child in his arms. “You
are right Let us wait awhile. We may hear them call. They can not
certainly be far off.”

“How far are we from the lake?”

“About a furlong Look, you can see the water glimmering through
the trees.”

When he turned his face again toward his charge he encountered a
pair of large brown eyes that were regarding him attentively.

“I quied drefful hard didnt I?”

“Yes dear: but you are not afraid now are you?”

“No–You won‘t let the toads bite me will you?”

“Certainly not. Where is your papa?”

“Yous my papa, aint you coz I aint got no ovver papa.”

“Who is your mamma?”

The big brown eyes looked solomly up into his.

“Grampa I reckon: who your mamma?”

“I have none darling.”

She wound one little chubby arm around his neck and stroked his
bearded face with the other hand.

“What is your name little one?”

– 7 –

“Bertie.”

“Bertie what?”

“Dis Bertie. Has you dot any name?”

“Yes. Call me Uncle Dick.”

“I like you drefful well Uncle Dick — Has you dot any chickens?”

“No Darling! would you like to come and live with me?”

“An Lota too.”

“Where is Lota?”

“Toads got her I reckon an Nena too.”

“Do you know, Ethridge, I almost wish no one would ever call for
this little waif — I would like to keep her myself.”

I sat and looked at him in stupid wonder was the man crazy?

“What in the name of King Herod would you do with her. A baby and
a girl too.”

“Hark! I hear voices! Some one is coming! Ladies by the Great
Mogul. Young too and beautiful,” he continued as they came round a
clump of box elders into full vision.

“One of them is, at least,” I replied.

“Which one?”

“Can you ask? Man where is your eyes why the one with the dark
eyes and hair There is not her peer in all America.”

“Tastes differ,” he replied smiling. The other with the golden hair
and blue eyes is more to my taste although both are beautiful.”

“Let us speak to them. See they are looking for the child and she
is weeping those glorious dark eyes are swimming in tears.”

“What would I not suffer,” I exclaim under my breath, “to be worthy
of such jewels” —

“Poor Boy! So bad as that,” said he laughing. “She is probably the
child’s mother and I dare say has a red headed husband nearby.”

I felt as though some one had suddenly ran an icicle down my back
and as though I should like to knock him down, but was saved
future sensation of a similar character by the approach of the
ladies.

“Can you tell me,” said Rashboy, “anything of this little wanderer?”

“0h! Indeed yes,” exclaimed the dark haired one recovering from her
suprise at seeing us. “It is our little sister.” (Sister! Thank
goodness.) “It is Bertie, Hope Where did you find her sir?”

“Under this tree asleep I heard her crying and followed the sound

– 8 –

but she was asleep when we found her,” explained Rashboy.

The child was awakened by the sound of voices and raised her
curley head from Rashboys shoulder and regarded her friends very
complacently but did seem inclined to get down.

“Oh Bertie,” exclaimed the ladies addressed as Hope reaching out
her arms for the child. “You frightened us nearly to death.”

“Maybe he‘ll take you Lota if you guy dufful hard like I did,”
she said —-

“Allow me,” said Rashboy breaking in rather awkardly into the
childs revelations, “to introduce my friend Mr Etheridge and myself
Richard Rashboy at your service.”

“My name,” said the fair haired lady giving hem her hand, “is Hope
Blanchard, this is my sister Inez and this little (truant?) is my
adopted sister Bertie and now gentlemen,” continued she turning to
me. “Allow me to thank you both for your kindness.”

“And I, too, thank you,” said Miss Inez, “for restoring our little
favorite. We almost idolize her.”

A moment afterward I was conscious of feeling a little soft hand in
mine and of seeing a pair of large dreamy eyes turn their dark
splendor upon me for a moment and of wishing that I might have an
opportunity of hunting lost babies every day.

“Come Bertie lets go and find Grandpa,” said Miss Hope.

“Ise tird Uncle Dick go too.”

“Let me carry her – poor little one – I dare say she is tired.”

“Uh if you please — This way: it is not far. We were having a
quiet family picnic on the lake shore and after dinner Inez and I
strolled off for a walk and left Bertie asleep on some shawls in
the shade. We left Papa to take care of her but he went to sleep
too and when he awaked she was gone. He thought at first that she
was with us but when we returned without her we were all terribly
frightened.”

“Poor Papa! He is doubtless hunting for her now,” said Miss Ines.

“Uh let us hasten please.”

The rest of the walk to the lake shore was soon accomplished.
Rashboy leading the way with the child and the rest of us
following as close as possible. We presently emerged in an open
glade or rather what had once been a small clearing for an old
rotton tumbled down log hut stood near. At the lower edge of a
gentle slope was the lake. A small sloop was mored by the beach. A
basket containing the fragments of a repast and some shawls lay
scattered under the shade of a large birch but not a living soul
was to be seen. The father had evidently not returned from his
search after the child. The girls looked anxiously round and the
tears gathered in the dark eyes of Inez.

“Papa will be so worried I am afraid it will make him swoon,” she
exclaimed “Only think what he must be suffering.”

– 9 –

“Please excuse me for a few minutes ladies,” said I, “and I will try
and find him.”

“Oh Mr Etheridge if you will be so kind,” and the dark eyes turned
appealing toward me.

“Should you find him first, Etheridge,” said Rashboy, “fire your
gun I will do the same He certainly is not far away.”

“What direction shall you take?” I asked.

“I shall go to the eastward.”

“Very well. We came from the south so I shall go westward. Be of
good cheer ladies. We will not be gone long I trust.”

“Oh I trust you will find him soon he is not able to be
travelling round through the woods.”

“Never fear. We will soon be back,” and without more ado we struck
off in opposite direction into the forest.

(Note 1) I had left my practice in New Orleans in charge of a
friend or rather my patience had (eff—?) for ( —– ?) healing
(—–) and run up here the week before for a months rest. The
excessive heat of the summer and hard work had made terrible
inroads on my health. I had chosen this place in the extreme north
to any of the more fashionable watering place because I needed
rest and I have yet to find any rest at Lost Braude or Newport
unless one can concieve a succession a hot crowded hotel and tough
beef ( —– ) coffee old ( —– ) various phenphanded of fashionable
manly ( —– ). Here I found good hunting and the finest fishing
anywhere. The atmosphere is pure and bracing and is a far better
cordial than any mineral water that I have found anywhere. I
leaned back in my easy chair and listened to the howling tempest
with a feeling of great comfort. No patients to visit. No long
rides through the storm and darkness called out by the whinned
fancies of some old hypocondriac when sole aim and object in life
appears to be to make everyone uncomfortable.

(Note 2) Although I have been practicing my profession that of a
physician in New Orleans for the last year.

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