+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

well, flowing, to all appearance, as lustily as
ever; and beside me stood the elder himself,
with no sign of apprehension on his thin
face, or visible in the twinkle of his piercing eyes.
Indeed, Mr. Rutherford wore an odd look of
stealthy satisfaction, and he was not the least
loud in his congratulations of Joe.

"Very strange," thought I. "That old man
must have a better heart than I gave him credit
for. But the outbreak of this oil is one of those
apparent caprices of nature which perplex men
of science."

The last sentence had been uttered aloud, and
the aged well-digger at my elbow answered it

"Solemn true, mister. We dug, and bored,
and no signs of ile, and here it comes up, plenty
as peaches in the latter end o' July. But here
comes Deacon Boone, struck all of a heap
like, at sight of the ile on the ground of the
chap he choked off from coortin' his darter.
May I never, but he's gwine to eat humble

Eat humble pie the deacon certainly did,
for, after hovering about the oil like a moth
round a candle, after listening to the bystanders'
vague calculations as to how many hundred or
thousand gallons a day the well would yield,
Mr. Boone went up to Joe and held out his

"Give you joy, my boy!" he said in a tremulous
way, and, taking courage from Joe's hearty
hand grasp, actually made a stammering apology
for his late conduct, and more than hinted that
his desire was that Susan and Joe should "come

It was curious to see the vain mean man
wriggling out of the dilemma, to hear his clumsy
phrases, and to observe his coarse greed and
time-serving nature. Such things have been
done before, in the politest circles, but here the
mercenary character stood out transparent and
stripped of artificial adornments. Joe seemed
to feel the truth, as he made answer in a
voice that was audible to many of those

"Deacon, we'll let bygones be bygones. I'm
willin' to stick to our old 'greement, and I'll be
proud of Susan for my wife, but I want nouthin'
more. Keep your money and your settlements
and stuff, or light your pipe with 'em if you like.
I take your darter in the clothes she stands in,
and no propertynot a cent."

All the villagers were talking for the next
three days of Joe's amazing luck, and Joe's no
less amazing disinterestedness. It was known
that the deacon, who had but one son and no
other daughter, would have given Susan a large
sum on her wedding-day, and would have
prospectively settled a much larger sum upon her.
And however productive Joe's well might be,
a good balance at the bank was never a hindrance
in business.

Some oil was collected at the new petroleum
spring in the course of the next four days, but
not as much as if the proprietor had not been
absorbed in preparations for his wedding. That
wedding was duly solemnised, with the full
sanction of parents, minister, and magistrate;
and a very pretty dark-eyed bride Susan was,
and very lovingly she nestled by Joe's side.
Hers was a soft nature, but she had found a
strong prop to cling to. I was present at the
wedding, and found much amusement in the
spectacle of the feast and frolic, which wound
up with an uproarious dance.

Deacon Boone publicly offered Joe a roll of
notes, Susan's portion, which Joe as publicly

Two days afterwards I was to leave Sparta.
My sturdy host would, I knew, have been pained
by the proffer of pecuniary compensation for my
maintenance, but he did not refuse to accept a
good German rifle, neatly mounted in silver,
which formed part of my worldly goods, and
which I had sent for from Philadelphia. This
Joe promised to keep for my sake, and in
memory of the eventful time we had passed

On the day of my departure a new excitement
pervaded the village. Joe's flowing well
had ceased to flow. The oil spring had vanished
as abruptly as it had appeared. Before long a
great crowd gathered, cries of wonder and
condolence were heard, and Deacon Boone and his
wife arrived in a state bordering on distraction.
Joe alone seemed cool, though a little
sheepish. In answer to the deacon's voluble
inquiries, he referred him to Elder Rutherford.
The deacon faced his enemy.

"What do you know about it, mister?"

"Know?" said Elder Hiram; "you've come
to the right shop for knowledge. The well's
dry; and why? Why, because the lease was
for a week, and it's out to-day."

And so it turned out. Elder Hiram's malicious
wish to play the deacon a trick, had
suggested an expedient at which Joe, in his
despair, had caught. A few yards of two-
inch piping laid down under cover of night
between the Wyandot Creek well and Joe's
excavation, had sufficed to extemporise a
flowing well on the latter's property, while
it merely relieved the elder's petroleum spring
of its superfluity. The pipe had now been

Of course Susan's parents were very full of wrath
and reproaches, but they were at last overborne
by public opinion. The majority favoured Joe,
probably considering all stratagems fair in love
and war, while Susan took her husband's part,
and the young farmer's remark was unanswerable:

"Deacon, I ain't ashamed.' It's fust time I
ever deceived anybody, but 'twar for Susan's
sake, and I never took a dollar of your money,
nor never will. Remember that!"

So the young folks moved West, and were
thriving in Kansas when last I heard of them.
Miss Esther was still with them.