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DRIVEN BACK TO EDEN.
By E. P. ROE.
“I shall not fume about the affair a moment.
I prefer to act. The only question for you and the DETERMINED ACTION.
other neighbors to decide is — will you act with me? JUNIOR had good reason for bringing Merton to I am going to this man Bagley's house to-morrow, a sudden halt in his impetuous and hostile advance. to give him his choice. It's either decency and The man coming up the lane, with a savage dog, was law-abiding on his part, now, or prosecution before the father of the ill-nurtured children. He had felt the law on mine. You say that you are sure that a little uneasy as to the results of their raid upon he has burned barns, and made himself generally our fruit, and had walked across the fields to give the terror of the region. Now, I wont live in a them the encouragement of his presence, or to neighborhood infested by people little better than cover their retreat, which he now did effectually. wild Indians. My feelings as a man will not permit
It took Junior but a moment to explain to my me to submit to insult and injury. What's more, boy that they were no match “ for the two brutes," it's time the people about here abated this nuias he expressed himself, adding: “ The man is sance." worse than the dog."
“You are right, Robert Durham !” said Mr. Merton, however, was almost reckless from Jones, springing up and giving me his hand. anger and a sense of unprovoked wrong, and he “I've felt mean, and so have others, that we've darted into the house for his gun.
allowed ourselves to be run over by this rapscallion. “See here, Merton,” said Junior, firmly, “shoot If you go to-morrow, I 'll go with you, and so will the dog if they set him on us, but never fire at a Rollins. His hen-roost was robbed tother night, human being. You 'd better give me the gun; I and he tracked the thieves straight toward Bagley's am cooler than you are.”
house. He says his patience has given out. It They had no occasion to use the weapon, however. only needs a leader to rouse the neighborhood, but The man shook his fist at them, while his children it is n't very creditable to us that we let a newindulged in taunts and coarse derision. The dog, comer like you face the thing first. sharing their spirit and not their discretion, started “Very well,” I said, “it's for you and your for the boys, but was recalled, and our undesirable neighbors to show now how much grit and manneighbors departed leisurely.
hood you have. I shall start for Bagley's house at All this was related to me after night-fall, when I nine, to-morrow. Of course I shall be glad to have returned with my wife and younger children from company, and if he sees that the people will not the Maizeville landing. I confess that I fully shared stand any more of his rascality, he 'll be more apt to Merton's anger, although I listened quietly.
behave himself or else clear out." “You grow white, Robert, when you are angry,” “He 'll have to do one or the other,” said Mr. said my wife. “I suppose that's the most Jones grimly. “I'll go right down to Rollins's. dangerous kind of heat — white heat. Don't take Come, Junior, we may want you." the matter so to heart. We can't risk getting the At eight o'clock the next morning, a dozen men, ill-will of these ugly people. You know what Mr. including the constable, were in our yard. My Jones said about them.”
wife whispered : “Do be prudent, Robert." She “This question shall be settled in twenty-four was much re-assured, however, by the largeness of hours !" I replied. “That man and his family our force. are the pest of the neighborhood, and every one We soon reached the dilapidated hovel, and lives in a sort of abject dread of them. Now, the were so fortunate as to find Bagley and all his neighbors must say 'ves' or 'no' to the question family at home. Although it was the busiest whether we shall have decency, law, and order, or season, he was idle. As I led my forces straight not. Merton, unharness the horse! Junior, come toward his door, it was evident that he was surwith me; I'm going to see your father.”
prised and disconcerted, in spite of his attempt I found Mr. Jones sleepy and about to retire, but to maintain a sullen and defiant aspect. I saw his blue eyes were soon wide open, with an angry his evil eye resting on one and another of our fire in them.
group, as if he were storing up grudges to be well “You take the matter very quietly, Mr. Dur- paid on future dark nights. His eldest son stood ham," he said ; “ more quietly than I could.” with the dog at the corner of the house, and as I approached, the cur, set on by the boy, came “Look-a-here," began the man, blusteringly, toward me with a stealthy step. I carried a heavy "you need n't come threatenin' in this blood-andcane, and just as the brute was about to take me thunder style. The law 'll protect me as well by the leg, I struck him a blow on the head that as — " sent him howling away.
Ominous murmurs were arising from all my The man, for a moment, acted almost as if he neighbors, and Mr. Jones now came out strong. had been struck himself. His bloated visage be- "Neighbors,” he said, “keep cool. The time came inflamed, and he sprang toward me.
to act has n't come yet. See here, Bagley, it's “Stop !" I thundered. My neighbors closed hayin' and harvest. Our time 's vallyble, whether around me, and he instinctively drew back.
yours is or not. You kin have just three minutes to “Bagley,” I cried, “look me in the eye." And decide whether you 'll take your oath to stop your he fixed upon me a gaze full of impotent anger. maraudin' and that of your children;" and he “Now," I resumed, “I wish you and your family pulled out his watch. to understand that you 've come to the end of your “Let me add my word,” said a little man, rope. You must become decent, law-abiding stepping forward. “I own this house, and the people, like the rest of us, or we shall put you rent is long overdue. Follow neighbor Jones's where you can't harm us. I, for one, am go- advice or we 'll see that the sheriff puts your traps ing to give you a last chance. Your children out in the middle of the road." were stealing my fruit last night, and acting “Oh, of course," began Bagley. “What kin shamefully afterward. You also trespassed, and you one feller do against a crowd?" threatened these two boys; you are idle in the “Swar', as I told you," said Mr. Jones, sharply busiest time, and think you can live by plunder. and emphatically. “What do you mean by Now, you and yours must turn the sharpest hangin' fire so? Do you s'pose this is child's corner you ever saw. Your two eldest children play and make-believe? Don't ye know that can come and pick berries for me at the usual when quiet, peaceable neighbors git riled up to wages, if they obey my orders and behave them- our pitch, that they mean what they say ? Swar', selves. One of the neighbors here says he 'll give as I said, and be mighty sudden about it." you work, if you try to do it well. If you accept “Don't be a dunce," added his wife, who stood these terms, I 'll let the past go. If you don't, trembling behind him. “Can't you see?” I 'll have the constable arrest your boy at once, “Very well, I swar' it,” said the man, in some and I 'll see that he gets the heaviest sentence the trepidation. law allows, while if you or your children make any “Now, Bagley,” said Mr. Jones, putting back his further trouble, I 'll meet you promptly in every watch, "we want to convert you thoroughly this way the law permits. But, little as you deserve it, I mornin'. The first bit of mischief that takes am going to give you and your family one chance place in this borough will bring the weight of to reform, before proceeding against you. Only un. the law on you"; and, wheeling on his heel, he derstand one thing, I am not afraid of you. I've left the yard, followed by the others. had my say."
“Come in, Mr. Bagley," I said, “ and bring the “I have n't had mine,” said Rollins, stepping children. I want to talk with you all. Merton, forward excitedly. “You, or your scapegrace you go home with Junior.” boy there, robbed my hen-roost the other night, “But, Papa --" he objected. and you 've robbed it before. There is n't a man “Do as I bid you," I said, firmly, and I entered in this region but believes that it was you who the squalid abode. burned the barns and hay-stacks. We wont stand The man and the children followed after me wonthis nonsense another hour. You've got to come deringly. I sat down and looked the man steadily to my hay-fields and work out the price of those in the eye for a moment. chickens, and after that I 'll give you fair wages. “Let us settle one thing first," I began. “ Do But if there 's any more trouble, we 'll clean you you think I am afraid of you?” out as we would a family of weasels.”
“S'pose not, with sich backin' as yer got," was “Yes, neighbor Bagley,” added Mr. Jones, in the somewhat nervous reply. his dry, caustic way, “think soberly. I hope you “I told Mr. Jones after I came home last night are sober. I'm not one of the threatenin', barkin' that I should fight this thing alone if no one stood sort, but I 've reached the p’int where I 'll bite. by me. But you see that your neighbors have The law will protect us an' the hull neighbor- reached the limit of forbearance. Now, Mr. Baghood has resolved, with Mr. Durham here, that ley, I did n't remain to threaten you. There has you and your children shall make no more trouble been enough of that, and from very resolute, angry than he and his children. See?”.
men, too. I wish to give you and yours a chance.
You ’ve come to a place where two roads branch; them up? - Take the road to the right. Do your you must take one or the other. You can't help level best, and I'll help you. I'll let bygones be yourself. You and your children wont be allowed bygones, and aid you in becoming a respectable to steal or prowl about any more. That's settled. citizen." If you go away and begin the same wretched life “Oh, Hank, do be a man, now that Mr. Dur
elsewhere, you 'll soon reach the same result; you ham gives you a chance," sobbed his wife; “ you and your son will be lodged in jail and put at hard know we've been living badly.” labor. Would you not better make up your mind to " That 's it, Bagley. These are the questions work for yourself and family, like an honest man? you must decide. If you 'll try to be a man, I'll Look at these children. How are you bringing give you my hand to stand by you. My religion,
such as it is, requires that I shall not let a man go “It hardly pays to keep a big, useless dog," was wrong if I can help it. If you 'll take the road my wife's practical comment. to the right and do your level best, there's my In going to the cellar for the meat, she left him hand.”
alone for a moment or two with Mousie; and he, The man showed his emotion by a slight tremor under his new impulses, said: only, and after a moment's thoughtful hesitation “Little gal, ef my children hurt your flowers he took my hand and said in a hoarse, choking ag'in, let me know, and I'll thrash 'em!” voice : “ You ’ve got a claim on me now which all the child stole to his side and gave him her the rest could n't git, even if they put a rope hand, as she replied : around my neck. I s'pose I have lived like a brute, “ Try being kind to them." but I 've been treated like one, too."
Bagley went home with some new ideas under “If you 'll do as I say, I 'll guarantee that within his tattered old hat. At half-past twelve he was six months you 'll be receiving all the kindness that on hand, ready for work. a self-respecting man wants,” I answered. Then “That dog that tried to bite ye is dead and turning to his wife, I asked :
buried,” he said, "and I hope I buried some of “What have you in the house to eat ? ”
my dog natur' with 'im." “ Next to nothin',” she said, drying her eyes “ You 've shown your good sense. But I with her apron, and then throwing open their bare have n't time to talk now. The old man has cupboard.
mown a good deal of grass. I want you to “Put on your coat, Bagley, and come with me," shake it out and, as soon as he says it's dry enough, I said.
to rake it up. Toward night I 'll be out with the He and his wife began to be profuse with thanks. wagon, and we 'll stow all that 's fit into the barn.
“No, no!” I said, firmly. “I'm not going to To-morrow, I want your two eldest children to give you a penny's worth of anything while you are come and pick berries." able to earn a living. You shall have food at “I'm in fer it, Mr. Durham. You ’ve given once; but I shall expect you to pay for it in work. me your hand, and I 'll show yer how that goes I am going to treat you like a man and a woman, furder with me than all the blood-and-thunder and not like beggars.”
talk in Maizeville,” said Bagley, with some feelA few minutes later, some of the neighbors were ing. much surprised to see Bagley and myself going up “Then you 'll show that you can be a man like the road together.
the rest of us," I said, as I hastened to our early My wife, Merton, and tender-hearted Mousie dinner. were at the head of the lane watching for me. My wife beamed and nodded at me. “I'm Re-assured, as we approached, they returned won- not going to say anything to set you up too much," deringly to the house, and met us at the door. she said. “You are great on problems, and you
“ This is Mrs. Durham," I said. “My dear, are solving one even better than I hoped." please give Mr. Bagley ten pounds of flour and a “It is n't solved yet," I replied. “We have piece of pork. After you 've had your dinner, enly started Bagley and his people on the right Mr. Bagley, I shall expect you, as we ’ve agreed. road. It will require much patience and good And if you 'll chain up that dog of yours, or, bet management to keep them there. I rather think ter still, knock it on the head with an ax, Mrs. you 'll have the hardest part of the problem yet Durham will go down and see your wife about fix- on your hands. I have little time for problems ing up your children."
now, however, except that of making the most of Winifred gave me a pleased, intelligent look, this season of rapid growth and harvest. I deand said, “Come in, Mr. Bagley"; while Mer- clare I'm almost bewildered when I see how much ton and I hastened away to catch up with neglected there is to be done on every side. Children, we work.
all must act like soldiers in the middle of a fight. “Your husband's been good to me," said the Every stroke must tell. Now, we 'll hold a counman abruptly.
cil of war, so as to make the most of the afternoon's “ That 's because he believes you are going to work. Merton, how are the raspberries?" be good to yourself and your family," was her “ There are more ripe, Papa, than I thought smiling reply.
there would be.” “Will you come and see my wife?” he asked. “Then, Winnie, you and Bobsey must leave the
“ Certainly, if I don't have to face your dog,” weeding in the garden and help Merton pick berreplied Winifred.
ries, this afternoon." “I'll kill the critter soon 's I go home," mut. “ As soon as it gets cooler,” said my wife, tered Bagley.
“ Mousie and I are going to pick, also.”