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The Hollow Tree Snowed-in Book by Paine

And Aunt Melissy and my little cousins


"Well,

this story is about them, too. I went to live with them soon after that, because I lost both of my parents one night when Mr. Man was hunting in the Black Bottoms for something to put in a pan with some sweet potatoes he had raised that year, and I suppose I would have been used with sweet potatoes too if I hadn't come away from there pretty lively instead of trying our old playing-dead trick on Mr. Man and his friends.

"I thought right away that Mr. Man might know the trick, so I didn't wait to try it myself, but took out for the Wide Paw-paw Hollows, to visit Uncle Silas Lovejoy, who was an uncle on my mother's side, and Aunt Melissy and my little cousins; and they all seemed glad to see me, especially my little cousins, until they found they had to give me some of their things and most of their food, because I was young and growing, besides being quite sad about my folks, and so, of course, had to eat a good deal to keep well and from taking my loss too hard.

"But by-and-by Uncle Lovejoy said that he didn't believe that he and the hired man--who was the same one he had brought home to wait on him when he came from town--to be his valet, he said--though he got to be a hired man right after Aunt Melissy met him and got hold of the shinny-sticks--Aunt Melissy being a spry, stirring person who liked to see people busy. I remember how she used to keep me and my little cousins busy until sometimes I wished I had

stayed with my folks and put up with the sweet potatoes and let Uncle Silas and his family alone."

Mr. 'Possum stopped to light his pipe, and Mr. Rabbit said that he supposed, of course, Mr. 'Possum knew his story and how to tell it, but that if he ever intended to finish what Uncle Lovejoy had said about himself and the hired man he wished he'd get at it pretty soon.

Mr. 'Possum said of course he meant to, as soon as he could get his breath, and think a minute. "Well, then," he said, "Uncle Silas told Aunt Melissy that he didn't believe he and the hired man could raise and catch enough for the family since I had come to stay with them, and he thought they had better move farther west to a place where the land was better and where Mr. Man's chickens were not kept up in such close, unhealthy places, but were allowed to roost out in the open air, on the fences and in the trees. He said he didn't think their house was quite stylish enough either, which he knew would strike Aunt Melissy, who was a Glenwood, and primpy, and fond of the best things.

"So then we began to pack up right away, and Uncle Silas and Aunt Melissy quarrelled a good deal about what was worth taking and what wasn't, and they took turns scolding the hired man about a good many things he didn't do and almost all of the things he did do, and my little cousins and I had a fine time running through the empty rooms and playing with things we had never seen before, but we had to keep out of Aunt Melissy's reach if we wanted to enjoy it much.

"Well, by-and-by we were all packed up and ready to start. We had everything in bundles or tied together, and Aunt Melissy had arranged a big bundle for Uncle Silas to carry, and several things to tie and hang about on his person in different places, and she had fixed up the hired man too, besides some bundles for me and my little cousins.

"Aunt Melissy said she would take charge of the lunch-basket and lead the way, and she was all dressed up and carried an umbrella, and didn't look much as if she belonged to the rest of our crowd.

[Illustration: AUNT MELISSY HAD ARRANGED A BUNDLE FOR UNCLE SILAS, AND SHE HAD FIXED UP THE HIRED MAN TOO]


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