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A Neighbor’s Landmark
by [?]

The timber-contractor took a long time to fasten his horse to the ring in the corner of the shed; but at last he looked up as if it were a matter of no importance to him that John Packer was coming across the yard. “Good-day,” said he; “good-day, John.” And John responded by an inexpressive nod.

“I was goin’ right by, an’ I thought I’d stop an’ see if you want to do anything about them old pines o’ yourn.”

“I don’t know’s I do, Mr. Ferris,” said John stiffly.

“Well, that business is easy finished,” said the contractor, with a careless air and a slight look of disappointment. “Just as you say, sir. You was full of it a spell ago, and I kind o’ kep’ the matter in mind. It ain’t no plot o’ mine, ‘cept to oblige you. I don’t want to move my riggin’ nowhere for the sake o’ two trees–one tree, you might say; there ain’t much o’ anything but fire-wood in the sprangly one. I shall end up over on the Foss lot next week, an’ then I’m goin’ right up country quick ‘s I can, before the snow begins to melt.”

John Packer’s hands were both plunged deep into his side pockets, and the contractor did not fail to see that he was moving his fingers nervously.

“You don’t want ’em blowin’ down, breakin’ all to pieces right on to your grass-land. They’d spile pretty near an acre fallin’ in some o’ them spring gales. Them old trees is awful brittle. If you’re ever calc’latin’ to sell ’em, now’s your time; the sprangly one’s goin’ back a’ready. They take the goodness all out o’ that part o’ your field, anyway,” said Ferris, casting a sly glance as he spoke.

“I don’t know’s I care; I can maintain them two trees,” answered Packer, with spirit; but he turned and looked away, not at the contractor.

“Come, I mean business. I’ll tell you what I’ll do: if you want to trade, I’ll give you seventy-five dollars for them two trees, and it’s an awful price. Buyin’ known trees like them’s like tradin’ for a tame calf; you’d let your forty-acre piece go without no fuss. Don’t mind what folks say. They’re yourn, John; or ain’t they?”

“I’d just as soon be rid on ’em; they’ve got to come down some time,” said Packer, stung by this bold taunt. “I ain’t goin’ to give you a present o’ half their value, for all o’ that.”

“You can’t handle ’em yourself, nor nobody else about here; there ain’t nobody got proper riggin’ to handle them butts but me. I’ve got to take ’em down for ye fur’s I can see,” said Ferris, looking sly, and proceeding swiftly from persuasion to final arrangements. “It’s some like gittin’ a tooth hauled; you kind o’ dread it, but when ‘t is done you feel like a man. I ain’t said nothin’ to nobody, but I hoped you’d do what you was a-mind to with your own property. You can’t afford to let all that money rot away; folks won’t thank ye.”

“What you goin’ to give for ’em?” asked John Packer impatiently. “Come, I can’t talk all day.”

“I’m a-goin’ to give you seventy-five dollars in bank-bills,” said the other man, with an air of great spirit.

“I ain’t a-goin’ to take it, if you be,” said John, turning round, and taking a hasty step or two toward the house. As he turned he saw the anxious faces of two women at one of the kitchen windows, and the blood flew to his pinched face.

“Here, come back here and talk man-fashion!” shouted the timber-dealer. “You couldn’t make no more fuss if I come to seize your farm. I’ll make it eighty, an’ I’ll tell you jest one thing more: if you’re holdin’ out, thinkin’ I’ll give you more, you can hold out till doomsday.”