**** 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!

To The Editor Of The Sun
by [?]

There was a sound, heard in the early hours of a Sunday morning, that used to bother strangers in our town until they got used to it. It started usually along about half past five or six o’clock and it kept up interminably–so it seemed to them–a monotonous, jarring thump-thump, thump-thump that was like the far-off beating of African tomtoms; but at breakfast, when the beaten biscuits came upon the table, throwing off a steamy hot halo of their own goodness, these aliens knew what it was that had roused them, and, unless they were dyspeptics by nature, felt amply recompensed for the lost hours of their beauty sleep.

In these degenerate latter days I believe there is a machine that accomplishes the same purpose noiselessly by a process of rolling and crushing, which no doubt is efficacious; but it seems somehow to take the poetry out of the operation. Old Judge Priest, our circuit judge, and the reigning black deity of his kitchen, Aunt Dilsey Turner, would have naught of it. So long as his digestion survived and her good right arm held out to endure, there would be real beaten biscuits for the judge’s Sunday morning breakfast. And so, having risen with the dawn or a little later, Aunt Dilsey, wielding a maul-headed tool of whittled wood, would pound the dough with rhythmic strokes until it was as plastic as sculptor’s modeling clay and as light as eiderdown, full of tiny hills and hollows, in which small yeasty bubbles rose and spread and burst like foam globules on the flanks of gentle wavelets. Then, with her master hand, she would roll it thin and cut out the small round disks and delicately pink each one with a fork–and then, if you were listening, you could hear the stove door slam like the smacking of an iron lip.

On a certain Sunday I have in mind, Judge Priest woke with the first premonitory thud from the kitchen, and he was up and dressed in his white linens and out upon the wide front porch while the summer day was young and unblemished. The sun was not up good yet. It made a red glow, like a barn afire, through the treetops looking eastward. Lie-abed blackbirds were still talking over family matters in the maples that clustered round the house, and in the back yard Judge Priest’s big red rooster hoarsely circulated gossip in regard to a certain little brown hen, first crowing out the news loudly and then listening, with his head on one side, while the rooster in the next yard took it up and repeated it to a rooster living farther down the road, as is the custom among male scandalizers the world over. Upon the lawn the little gossamer hammocks that the grass spiders had seamed together overnight were spangled with dew, so that each out-thrown thread was a glittering rosary and the center of each web a silken, cushioned jewel casket. Likewise each web was outlined in white mist, for the cottonwood trees were shedding down their podded product so thickly that across open spaces the slanting lines of the drifting fiber looked like snow. It would be hot enough after a while, but now the whole world was sweet and fresh and washed clean.

It impressed Judge Priest so. He lowered his bulk into a rustic chair made of hickory withes that gave to his weight, and put his thoughts upon breakfast and the goodness of the day; but presently, as he sat there, he saw something that set a frown between his faded blue eyes.

He saw, coming down Clay Street, upon the opposite side, an old man–a very feeble old man–who was tall and thin and dressed in somber black. The man was lame–he dragged one leg along with the hitching gait of the paralytic. Traveling with painful slowness, he came on until he reached the corner above. Then automatically he turned at right angles and left the narrow wooden sidewalk and crossed the dusty road. He passed Judge Priest’s, looking neither to the right nor the left, and so kept on until he reached the corner below. Still following an invisible path in the deep-furrowed dust, he crossed again to the other side. Just as he got there his halt leg seemed to give out altogether and for a minute or two he stood holding himself up by a fumbling grip upon the slats of a tree box before he went laboriously on, a figure of pain and weakness in the early sunshine that was now beginning to slant across his path and dapple his back with checkerings of shadow and light.