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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

The eclipse had given us an anxious afternoon


We

climbed into the wagon and started homeward, but it was so dark that we had to plod along slowly. Old Sol was unusually torpid, as if the ominous obscurity had dazed him, too. After a time he stopped short and snorted; we heard the brush crackle and caught a glimpse of a large animal crossing the road ahead of us.

"That's a bear," Thomas said. "Bears are out, just as if it were night."

Some minutes passed before we could make Old Sol go on; and again we heard owls hooting in the woods.

Long before we got down to the cleared land, however, the sky began gradually to grow lighter. We all noticed it, and a feeling of relief stole over us. In the course of twenty minutes it became so light that we could discern objects round us quite plainly. The night chill, too, seemed to go from the air.

Suddenly, as we rattled along, Addison jumped up from his seat and turned to us. "I know now what this is!" he cried. "Why didn't I think of it before?"

"What is it--if you know?" cried Catherine and Theodora at once.

"The eclipse! The total eclipse of the sun!" exclaimed Addison. "I remember now reading something about it in the _Maine Farmer_ a fortnight ago. It was to be on the 7th--and this is it!"

At that time advance notices of such phenomena were

not so widely published as they are now; at the old farm, too, we did not take a daily newspaper. So one of the great astronomical events of the last century had come and gone, and we had not known what it was until it was over.

Except for the dun canopy of smoke and clouds over the sun we should have guessed at once, of course, the cause of the darkness; but as it was, the eclipse had given us an anxious afternoon; and although the rainbow in the morning had probably not the slightest connection with the eclipse,--indeed, could not have had,--it had greatly heightened the feeling of awe and superstitious dread with which we had beheld night fall in the middle of the afternoon!

By the time we got home it was light again. As we drove into the yard, the old Squire came out, smiling. "Was it a little dark up where you were blackberrying a while ago?" he asked.

"Well, _just_ a little dark, sir," Addison replied, with a smile as droll as his own. "But I suppose it was all because of that rainbow in the morning that you told us to look out for."

CHAPTER XXIII

WHEN I WENT AFTER THE EYESTONE

A few evenings ago, I read in a Boston newspaper that, as the result of a close contest, Isaac Kane Woodbridge had been elected mayor of one of the largest and most progressive cities of the Northwest.

Little Ike Woodbridge! Yes, it was surely he. How strangely events work round in this world of ours! Memories of a strange adventure that befell him years ago when he was a little fellow came to my mind, and I thought of the slender thread by which his life hung that afternoon.

The selectmen of our town had taken Ike Woodbridge from the poor-house and "bound him out" to a farmer named Darius Dole. He was to have food, such as Dole and his wife ate, ten weeks' schooling a year, and if he did well and remained with the Doles until he was of legal age, a "liberty suit" of new clothes and fifty dollars.


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