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Mary Louise in the Country
written by "St. John, James Allen, 1872-1957"
.... The Hathaways were newcomers, about whom little was known. He wanted to know more, and here was a girl who could give him inside information. "Knowed the Hathaways in the city?" "Kind o'. Sewed on Mary Louise's spring dresses. How long you been here?" "Me? Why, I come here more'n twenty years ago. What does the Colonel do in the city?" "Never asked him. Why do they call this place Cragg's Crossing?" "I didn't name it. S'pose 'cause ol' Cragg used to own all the land, an' the roads crossed in the middle o' his farm." "What Cragg was that?" "Eh? Why, father to Ol' Swallertail. Ever seen Ol' Swallertail?" "No." "Wal, he's a sight fer sore eyes. First time anybody sees him they either laughs er chokes. The movin'-pictur' folks would go crazy over him. Ever seen a movin'-pictur'?" "Yes." "I did, too, when I was in the city las' year. Ol' Swallertail 'minds me of 'em. Goes 'round dressed up like George Washington when he crossed the Delaware." "Crazy?" "That way, yes; other ways, not a bit. Pretty foxy gent, is Ol' Swallertail." "Why?" Sol hesitated, reflecting. These questions were natural, in a stranger, but to explain old Hezekiah Cragg's character was not a particularly easy task. "In the fust place, he drives a hard bargain. Don't spend money, but allus has it. Keeps busy, but keeps his business to himself." "What is his business?" "Didn't I say he kep' it to himself?" "But he owns all the land around here." "Not now. He owns jest a half-acre, so far's anybody knows, with a little ol' hut on it thet a respect'ble pig wouldn't live in. It's jes' acrost the river from the place where you're workin'." "Then what has become of his land?" "It's stayed jes' where it allus was, I guess," with a chuckle at his own wit, "but Ol' Swaller-tail sold it, long ago. Ol' Nick Cragg, his father afore him, sold a lot of it, they say, and when he died he left half his ready money an' all his land to Hezekiah—thet's Ol' Swallertail—an' the other half ...

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