**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


A Chaparral Prince
by [?]

The stump of the candle was burning low, so Lena hastily bit the wood from around the lead of her pencil and began. This is the letter she wrote:

Dearest Mamma:–I want so much to see you. And Gretel and Claus
and Heinrich and little Adolf. I am so tired. I want to see you.
To-day I was slapped by Mrs. Maloney and had no supper. I could
not bring in enough wood, for my hand hurt. She took my book
yesterday. I mean “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” which Uncle Leo gave me.
It did not hurt any one for me to read the book. I try to work as
well as I can, but there is so much to do. I read only a little
bit every night. Dear mamma, I shall tell you what I am going to
do. Unless you send for me to-morrow to bring me home I shall go
to a deep place I know in the river and drown. It is wicked to
drown, I suppose, but I wanted to see you, and there is no one
else. I am very tired, and Tommy is waiting for the letter. You
will excuse me, mamma, if I do it.

Your respectful and loving daughter,

Tommy was still waiting faithfully when the letter was concluded, and when Lena dropped it out she saw him pick it up and start up the steep hillside. Without undressing she blew out the candle and curled herself upon the mattress on the floor.

At 10:30 o’clock old man Ballinger came out of his house in his stocking feet and leaned over the gate, smoking his pipe. He looked down the big road, white in the moonshine, and rubbed one ankle with the toe of his other foot. It was time for the Fredericksburg mail to come pattering up the road.

Old man Ballinger had waited only a few minutes when he heard the lively hoofbeats of Fritz’s team of little black mules, and very soon afterward his covered spring wagon stood in front of the gate. Fritz’s big spectacles flashed in the moonlight and his tremendous voice shouted a greeting to the postmaster of Ballinger’s. The mail-carrier jumped out and took the bridles from the mules, for he always fed them oats at Ballinger’s.

While the mules were eating from their feed bags old man Ballinger brought out the mail sack and threw it into the wagon.

Fritz Bergmann was a man of three sentiments–or to be more accurate– four, the pair of mules deserving to be reckoned individually. Those mules were the chief interest and joy of his existence. Next came the Emperor of Germany and Lena Hildesmuller.

“Tell me,” said Fritz, when he was ready to start, “contains the sack a letter to Frau Hildesmuller from the little Lena at the quarries? One came in the last mail to say that she is a little sick, already. Her mamma is very anxious to hear again.”

“Yes,” said old man Ballinger, “thar’s a letter for Mrs. Helterskelter, or some sich name. Tommy Ryan brung it over when he come. Her little gal workin’ over thar, you say?”

“In the hotel,” shouted Fritz, as he gathered up the lines; “eleven years old and not bigger as a frankfurter. The close-fist of a Peter Hildesmuller!–some day I shall with a big club pound that man’s dummkopf–all in and out the town. Perhaps in this letter Lena will say that she is yet feeling better. So, her mamma will be glad. /Auf wiedersehen/, Herr Ballinger–your feets will take cold out in the night air.”

“So long, Fritzy,” said old man Ballinger. “You got a nice cool night for your drive.”

Up the road went the little black mules at their steady trot, while Fritz thundered at them occasional words of endearment and cheer.

These fancies occupied the mind of the mail-carrier until he reached the big post oak forest, eight miles from Ballinger’s. Here his ruminations were scattered by the sudden flash and report of pistols and a whooping as if from a whole tribe of Indians. A band of galloping centaurs closed in around the mail wagon. One of them leaned over the front wheel, covered the driver with his revolver, and ordered him to stop. Others caught at the bridles of Donder and Blitzen.