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The church was icy cold, and he toiled in the cellar, stuffing wood into the flaming maw of the steam-heater, till it was time to ring the bell. As he gave the last stroke, Deacon Bradley approached him. Jehiel, Ive got a little job of repairing I want you should do at my store, he said in the loud, slow speech of a man important in the community. Come to the store to-morrow morning and see about it. He passed on into his pew, which was at the back of the church near a steam radiator, so that he was warm, no matter what the weather was.
Where should he go? He was dazed by the unlimited possibilities before him. To Boston first, as the nearest seaport. He had taken the trip in his mind so many times that he knew the exact minute when the train would cross the state line and he would be really escaped from the net which had bound him all his life. From Boston to Jamaica as the nearest place that was quite, quite different from Vermont. He had no desire to see Europe or England. Life there was too much like what he had known. He wanted to be in a country where nothing should remind him of his past. From Jamaica where? His stiff old fingers painfully traced out a steamship line to the Isthmus and thence to Colombia. He knew nothing about that country. All the better. It would be the more foreign. Only this he knew, that nobody in that tropical country farmed it, and that was where he wanted to go. From Colombia around the Cape to Argentina. He was aghast at the cost, but instantly decided that he would go steerage. There would be more
Yes, I be, said the other harshly, but t aint nothin. Itll pass after a while. Nathaniel, Ive thought of a way you can manage. You know your uncles wife died this last week and that leaves me without any housekeeper. What if your stepmother shd come and take care of me and Ill take care of her. Ive just sold a piece of timber land I never thought to get a cent out of, and thatll ease things up so we can hire help if she aint strong enough to do the work.
The day before he went back to his own home, now so strange to him, he was out with her, searching for some lost turkey-chicks, and found one with its foot caught in a tangle of rusty wire. The little creature had beaten itself almost to death in its struggle to get way. Kneeling in the grass, and feeling the wild palpitations of its heart under his rescuing hand, he had called to his sister, Oh, look! Poor thing! Its most dead, and yet it aint really hurt a mite, only desperate, over bein held fast. His voice broke in a sudden wave of sympathy: Oh, aint it terrible to feel so!