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PAGE 3

The Ghost in the Mill
by [?]

“Wal, as to Phebe Ann, she acted like a gal o’ sense, and married ‘Bijah Moss, and thought no more ’bout it. She took the right view on’t, and said she was sartin that all things was ordered out for the best; and it was jest as well folks couldn’t always have their own way. And so, in time, Lommedieu was gone out o’ folks’s minds, much as a last year’s apple-blossom.

“It’s relly affectin’ to think how little these ‘ere folks is missed that’s so much sot by. There ain’t nobody, ef they’s ever so important, but what the world gets to goin’ on without ’em, pretty much as it did with ’em, though there’s some little flurry at fust. Wal, the last thing that was in anybody’s mind was, that they ever should hear from Lommedieu agin. But there ain’t nothin’ but what has its time o’ turnin’ up; and it seems his turn was to come.

“Wal, ye see, ’twas the 19th o’ March, when Cap’n Eb Sawin started with a team for Boston. That day, there come on about the biggest snow-storm that there’d been in them parts sence the oldest man could remember.’Twas this ‘ere fine, siftin’ snow, that drives in your face like needles, with a wind to cut your nose off: it made teamin’ pretty tedious work. Cap’n Eb was about the toughest man in them parts. He’d spent days in the woods a-loggin’, and he’d been up to the deestrict o’ Maine a-lumberin’, and was about up to any sort o’ thing a man gen’ally could be up to; but these ‘ere March winds sometimes does set on a fellow so, that neither natur’ nor grace can stan’ ’em. The cap’n used to say he could stan’ any wind that blew one way’t time for five minutes; but come to winds that blew all four p’ints at the same minit,—why, they flustered him.

“Wal, that was the sort o’ weather it was all day: and by sundown Cap’n Eb he got clean bewildered, so that he lost his road; and, when night came on, he didn’t know nothin’ where he was. Ye see the country was all under drift, and the air so thick with snow, that he couldn’t see a foot afore him; and the fact was, he got off the Boston road without knowin’ it, and came out at a pair o’ bars nigh upon Sherburn, where old Cack Sparrock’s mill is.

“Your gran’ther used to know old Cack, boys. He was a drefful drinkin’ old crittur, that lived there all alone in the woods by himself a-tendin’ saw and grist mill. He wa’n’t allers jest what he was then. Time was that Cack was a pretty consid’ably likely young man, and his wife was a very respectable woman,—Deacon Amos Petengall’s dater from Sherburn.

“But ye see, the year arter his wife died, Cack he gin up goin’ to meetin’ Sundays, and, all the tithing-men and selectmen could do, they couldn’t get him out to meetin’; and, when a man neglects means o’ grace and sanctuary privileges, there ain’t no sayin’ what he’ll do next. Why, boys, jist think on’t!—an immortal crittur lyin’ round loose all day Sunday, and not puttin’ on so much as a clean shirt, when all ‘spectable folks has on their best close, and is to meetin’ worshippin’ the Lord! What can you spect to come’ of it, when he lies idlin’ round in his old week-day close, fishing, or some sich, but what the Devil should be arter him at last, as he was arter old Cack?”

Here Sam winked impressively to my grandfather in the opposite corner, to call his attention to the moral which he was interweaving with his narrative.