**** 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!

The Owner Of The Mill Farm
by [?]

Beyond his necessity, a tired man is not apt to be polite. This Mrs. Miner had generalized from long experience with her husband. She knew at a distance, by the way he wore his hat when he came in out of the field, whether he was in a peculiarly savage mood, or only in his usual state of sullen indifference.

As he came in out of the barn on this spring day, he turned to look up at the roof with a curse. Something had angered him. He did not stop to comb his hair after washing at the pump, but came into the neat kitchen and surlily took a seat at the table.

Mrs. Miner, a slender little woman, quite ladylike in appearance, had the dinner all placed in steaming abundance upon the table, and the children, sitting side by side, watched their father in silence. There was an air of foreboding, of apprehension, over them all, as if they feared some brutal outbreak on his part.

He placed his elbows on the table. His sleeves were rolled up, displaying his red and much sunburned arms. He wore no coat, and his face was sullen, and held, besides, a certain vicious quality, like that of a bad-tempered dog.

He had not spoken to his wife directly for many weeks. For years it had been his almost constant habit to address her through the children, by calling her “she” or “your mother.” He had done this so long that even the little ones were startled when he said, looking straight at her:

“Say, what are you going to do about that roof?”

Mrs. Miner turned her large gray eyes upon him in sudden confusion. “Excuse me, Tom, I didn’t—-“

“I said ‘What you goin’ t’ do with that roof?'” he repeated brutally.

“What roof?” she asked timidly.

“What roof?” he repeated after her. “Why, the barn, of course! It’s leakin’ and rottin’ my oats. It’s none o’ my business,” he went on, his voice containing an undercurrent of vicious insult. “Only I thought you’d like to know it’s worse than ever. You can do as you like about it,” he said again, and there was a peculiar tone in his voice, as if, by using that tone, he touched her upon naked nerves somewhere. “I guess I can cover the oats up.”

A stranger would not have known what it all meant, and yet there was something in what he said that made his wife turn white. But she answered quietly:

“I’ll send word to the carpenter this forenoon. I’m sorry,” she went on, the tears coming to her eyes. She turned away and looked out of the window, while he ate on indifferently. At last she turned with a sudden impulse: “O Tom, why can’t we be friends again? For the children’s sake, you ought to—-“

“Oh, shut up!” he snarled. “Good God! Can’t you let a thing rest? Suits me well enough. I ain’t complainin’. So, just shut up.”

He rose with a slam and went out. The two children sat with hushed breath. They knew him too well to cry out.

Mrs. Miner sat for a long time at the table without moving. At last she rose and went sighfully at work. “Morty, I want you to run down to Mr. Wilber’s and ask him to come up and see me about some work.” She stood at the window and watched the boy as he stepped lightly down the road. “How much he looks like his father, in spite of his sunny temper!” she thought, and it was not altogether a pleasant thing to think of, though she did not allow such a thought to take definite shape.

The young carpenter whom Wilber sent to fill Mrs. Miner’s order walked with the gay feet of youth as he passed out of the little town toward the river. When he came to the bridge, he paused and studied the scene with slow, delighted eyes. The water came down over its dam with a leap of buoyant joy, as if leaping to freedom. Over the dam it lay in a quiet pool, mirroring every bud and twig. Below, it curved away between low banks, with bushes growing to the water’s edge, where the pickerel lay.