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DOGGETT'S LAST MIGRATION.
WITH PICTURES BY E. W. KEMBLE.
HE funeral was over, Pretty well along for this country, that 's
and the Old Man so," assented the ingenuous Barlow; “ but back looked somewhat dis- in the States, now, you would n't be so very
consolate. I refer to vener'ble, Old Man.” 203 Old Man Doggett of “No; you 're right," answered Doggett.
Broken Bow. Mr. “But I 'm goin' to miss her, I reckon, speDoggett's baptismal cially when I move West. She was very handy name is in my posses- at movin'. Prob'bly she had to be,” he added sion, but few knew it thoughtfully; “ we h’isted West sev'ral times."
in Broken Bow; fewer This produced a faint smile on the faces of still cared anything about it. It was, in fact, his hearers, not because there seemed to be a name which the elderly Mr. Doggett used in anything incongruous in the idea of going West his dealings with the United States government, on the banks of the Missouri River, but beand for no other purpose, and it looked odd cause the Old Man had been talking of it ever even to him when he saw it on land-office since he arrived a year ago, and the public had papers.
lost faith. “ The Old Man will never go West The Old Man, as I have intimated, did not no more than me,” Bill Dows had once anlook particularly cheerful, but his actions were nounced sententiously; but since Bill had gone far from denoting despondency. It was Mrs. to that region inside of a week after being thus Doggett, sharer of his joys and sorrows- moved to prophecy, not much was thought of mostly sorrows — for something over forty years his view. in a zigzag course from the Eastern States to “ Miranda," continued the Old Man after a his present location in the Territory of Dakota pause, “was most remarkably handy at cookin'
- it was Mrs. Doggett, I say, who had departed outdoors. I al'ays liked to set on the wagonthis life. Mrs. Doggett had been a faithful, pa- tongue when we camped, an' take care o' the tient wife, and had gone to the reward of this children an' the dogs, an’ watch her toss up kind of wives. Her funeral had been numerously the skillet an' flip a flap-jack. Never knowed attended by the people from the eleven houses her to fail but once, an' that was thirty year which made up the city of Broken Bow, and ago in Injeana. I 'm goin' to miss her on the from the score or so of settlers' “shacks” scat- road, an' that 's a fact. But I can't help it. I tered about on the prairie in the neighborhood. reckon I 'll start to-morrow. Boys,” he added, Hers was the first death to come upon Broken with a fairly cheerful if not wholly necessary Bow. She had been laid at rest in the Prairie oath,—“ boys, come in an' have a drink.” View Cemetery, "thus," in the well-chosen I scarcely need to say, I suppose, that the words of the Broken Bow “Van-Guard,” “in- old gentleman's call to the thirsty was unaniaugurating this sacred spot so thoughtfully set mously heeded by the group around the open aside in the Third Ward by the founders of door of the Settler's Home. Nor need I say, our city."
probably, that his apparent callousness to the The ancient Mr. Doggett sat in front of the loss of his wife met with unfavorable comment Settler's Home hotel as the hazy October sun on the part of the few women of Broken Bow. sank toward the west. A few fellow-citizens Woman will stand abuse, but not neglect; her surrounded him in easy attitudes. Nobody said husband may be a tyrant so long as he is much. Each was engaged in the laborious miserable during her absence. The women of work of watching the down of the ripened Broken Bow were holding an informal meetmilkweeds, which, ignoring the metropolitan ing at the house of Justice Barlow, opposite claims of the city, was floating lazily about. the Settler's Home. Justice of the Peace Barlow came up and sat “ I tell you, it is scandalous the way the Old down near the Old Man. After moving about Man acts,” announced Mrs. Barlow, who made uneasily for a minute or two, this worthy orna- a specialty of “speaking her mind.” “Such a ment of the bench offered a few words of con- man don't deserve a wife; for my part, I can't dolence to the bereaved old gentleman. “Yes,” see why the Lord let him have one as long as replied the latter; “it is a little hard on me at he did. And after she 'd moved West with my time of life. I'm gettin' old, Jedge.” him twenty times if she had once, too. It ain't
any light thing to sleep in a wagon and get as she turned toward him, and the rich, soft meals over a fire on the ground —I 've tried light of the sunset lighted up her face. “ Are it.” The excellent Mrs. Barlow seemed to be- you going home now ? " lieve that the late Mrs. Doggett's outdoor per- "I dunno. Reckon I'd better ? " ambulating housekeeping should cause her “ Yes; I think so. You ’ve been drinking, bereaved spouse to melt into tears if nothing Mr. Doggett.” else would, and this view of the case was gen- The Old Man's first impulse was to say,
“S'posin' I have?" but he thought better of it. Her tone showed that she was sorry. This surprised him, he was not accustomed to anything of the kind,—and it also touched him. But he decided that it was safer to remain facetious. So he said: “ That 's so, Miss Holley; but the Gover'ment ain't made no law that a man on a claim can't drink, has it? Ain't we got no rights left, nohow?” and the old humorist laughed querulously. He noticed as the light still flooded her face how handsome she was.
“ Your wife would not have liked to know that you were going to get drunk to-day.” The girl looked at him steadily. The Old Man bowed his head.
His stooped form was outlined against "I'M GETTIN' OLD, jedge."
the golden sky, which burned far off erally shared by the other women present. But across the level prairie. the Old Man found one champion even among “ I ain't so very drunk, am I?” asked the them, though I am bound to say that she was Old Man in an apologetic tone. an unmarried woman, knowing but little about “No, you are not very drunk; but why did the undeserving creature, man. This was Miss you get drunk at all ?” Holley, the schoolmistress.
The Old Man's head sank still lower, and “I think,” said Miss Holley, the schoolmis- he was silent for a full minute. Finally he tress, “that the Old Man feels worse than we answered: know; I was talking with him yesterday. He “ I dunno. I had n't oughter. I did n't know does n't know any better than to act the way what else to do. I was lonesome. It 's lonehe does; he thinks it would be unmanly to some ev'rywhere now. I ain't goin' home; it's show any grief. But he means well, I am sure." lonesomer there than anywhere else."
Miss Holley was regarded with a mingled “Yes; you would better go home. It is the expression of pity and contempt by the experi- best place for you, even if it is lonesome. Come, enced married women present, so she said no I will go part way with you." more in defense of the unpopular Mr. Doggett. The Old Man looked at her doubtfully, and But when, as it began to grow dusk, she went then started off along the mark across the out to go to her" claim," which she was “hold- prairie which, by a stretch of courtesy prompted ing” a half-mile from town, and where she was by intense local patriotism, was called a road. obliged to stay a night or two each week to They went in silence some distance, the girl appease an exacting government, she met the slightly in advance, the Old Man with his head Old Man on the corner. There was a touch bowed. Then she paused and turned, this time of unsteadiness in the old gentleman's legs, and with her back to the dying west, while the fadtruth compels me to confirm the penetrating ing light, now gray and almost gloomy, fell on reader's worst suspicions, and to admit that it the face of the Old Man. came from the too industrious absorption of “There,” she said, “it is only a quarter of a Broken Bow liquor, a fiery fluid utterly unfit mile farther. You will go, will you not?” for either man or beast. But the Doggett mind “Yes, Miss Holley; I will. It 's the best was clear and active.
place for me. But it is lonesome there with“Good evenin', Miss Holley,” he said. “Go- out her — mighty lonesome. I reckon I never in' out to comply with the law, eh ? He, he!” knowed how much company she was till now." The superfluous laugh came from the same Yes, yes; but you must try and be as cheercause as the undesirable unsteadiness. ful as you can. You know you are going West
“Yes, Mr. Doggett," answered Miss Holley, some day.”
“You believe it, do you?” answered the He looked at the hand she had taken in hers, Old Man, eagerly. “Of course you do; you're and was somewhat reassured on finding that sens’ble. You know when a man says that it appeared to be in its normal condition. Then he's goin' West that he means it. The rest he looked back toward the town, and saw the
lights in the Settler's Home. He took a step in that direction, then turned and started for home with a fairly resolute tread. “I'll go home, as she told me to," he said. “She's the smartest girl in the Territory; she knows what's the thing for me to do, and she knows I am goin' West." His pace slackened a little, and he was silent. “ There's Tige and the hosses, anyhow. They'll be some company, but not much. Oh, it's lonesome without her! It's — " The Old Man's voice choked, but he walked on. Soon he came to a little depression in the prairie through which the road ran, and he stopped, and by the last faint light from the west, and the fainter light from the stars, he
gathered a bunch of the wild sunflowers which of 'em don't believe it, but I knowed you did grew there, and which had all day been tossed all the while. Of course I 'm goin' West; of about on their long, graceful stems by the course. You 've got some sense."
south wind. Then the Old Man, with the “Yes, you are going West again some day,” flowers in his hand, went on through the darkreplied the girl ; "but not now- - not this fall. ness to the place he called home. You must stay here this winter, and go in the At the time of which this history treats the spring."
American locomotive had been in full cry “No, can't do that; I must go now. I after the fleeing Mr. Doggett for over half a don't like this country; it 's gettin' too much century. It had not come up with him for any settled up. They 're talkin' of a railroad comin' length of time. There are sailors who never go through here, an' somehow I don't like 'em. down to the sea in ships,-born wanderers of This land don't suit me, anyhow. They say the land, latter-day gipsies,- who look upon there's the best land in the world in the Hills. a covered wagon and a team of horses as a I 'm goin' across the reservation into the Hills. true-born sailor looks upon his ship. Mr. DogI 'm goin' alone; there's nobody to go with gett first saw the light of day near the Atlantic me now, except Tige an’ the hosses. They ’re better 'n nothin', but they can't talk, though Tige barks in sev'ral diff'rent ways. It 'll be lonesome travelin' without her-an' her heart was set on the trip. She did n't like it here no more than me. She was of the 'pinion that the s'ciety wa’n't what it oughter be. She never liked the way that town crowd tries to put on airs, an'act stuck up. But she al'ays said you was a nice girl; I reckon she knowed you believed we was goin' West.”
"Perhaps," assented the other, with a faint smile. “She was a good woman, and I am sure it will be very hard for you to move West without her. But I must go now. Good night; you will go home now, won't you?” and she put out her hand for his. Shaking hands was a form of social dissipation which the Old Man had largely risen above, but after some hesitation he extended his hand. She took it, pressed it slightly, gathered up a white shawl about her shoulders, and walked away through the seaboard, but he soon abandoned the neighbordry grass toward her little eight-by-ten house hood. He found the region too crowded. It now faded out of sight across the prairie in seemed stuffy and poorly ventilated to him. the fast-gathering darkness. The Old Man While still toiling in that fertile portion of gazed after her in considerable bewilderment. the late Noah Webster's incomparable speller
time in Illinois six of them had gathered about the blazing fire beside the wagon, and watched their father industriously cleaning his rifle, and listened to his optimistic remarks on the amount of game he proposed to bag the next day. Two of the offspring had been born in the wagon, which always gave them a slightly warmer place in their father's heart. But the life had not seemed to agree with the little ones, and they had gone away to a land of fewer hardships, one in Kentucky, two in Missouri, one in Iowa, another in far-off Manitoba, as they camped by the lonely Red River of the North ; and the last, a promising boy of fifteen, who could shoot with great accu
racy, and get the better of the other “ YOU 'VE BEEN DRINKING."
fellow in swapping horses three times which is devoted to words of two syllables, he out of four, in western Minnesota, where the turned his attention to newspaper reports of Doggett home had temporarily been before the West, and especially of the farms which it was moved to Broken Bow for another a paternal government was disposing of at a transitory pause. nominal price. So one night he went away Through all his troubles the Old Man had from home, leaving parents behind who con- preserved a considerable degree of cheerfulsoled themselves with ten other little Dog- ness. He usually drowned his sorrows by getts. He tarried in Ohio a few years, where moving West. He had determined to pursue he was married, and accumulated property to this course on the present occasion. But he the extent of a wagon with a white cover, a trudged along through the darkness with a team consisting of one mule and one horse, a heavy heart, and when he pushed open the gloomy cow, and four dogs. Then he began door of his one-room house and went in, the his great retreat from the locomotive in good place seemed very solemn and very lonely. earnest, which, at the time I write of, had con- He lighted a smoky lantern, and laid the sunsisted of twenty or thirty distinct removals, and flowers on the table. Then he sat down, and had marked out an uncertain line from the for a long time gazed at the dim and flickerBuckeye State to the Missouri River, reach- ing light. Tige, a battle-scarred dog which had ing at one time as far south as Arkansas, and fought everything that two States and three on another occasion as far north as Mani- Territories could furnish, claimed hisattention, toba. His weakness for Government land had but did not get it. At last he arose, and looked increased rather than diminished, and the about the room through the semi-darkness. number of “claims" which he had owned in He took down his rifle from the wall, examdifferent States and Territories was something ined it, and put it back in its place. “Yes," startling, especially when we remember, as in- he said, half aloud; “I must start in the momexorable fact forces us to do, that after the ing. It 's too lonesome to stay here. I'll first one or two, he had had no right to them. show 'em that I can go. Miss Holley knows But the old gentleman's conscience in regard I'm goin' now.” Then his eye rested on the to dealings with the Government was elastic, as sunflowers, and he took them up. “I'll go I regret to say the consciences of men occu- an' put 'em on her grave,” he said. “There pying higher positions in the social scale some- can't nobody see me now.” He went out, and times are. During all of this time, in which he started back along the path. There was no never lived longer than five years in one place, moon, but the stars were shining, though the Mrs. Doggett had been his uncomplaining sky was hazy. The fresh, steady south wind companion. She was not a born wanderer, swept unhindered across the level plain with and sometimes she looked at old and well- a sharp, almost hissing sound in the long, dry kept homes, with their great shade-trees, and prairie-grass,—“grass," as had been aptly reample barns, and moss-roofed houses, and marked by the Broken Bow “Van-Guard," - 50 sighed; but she said nothing, and wandering rich in albuminous and nitrogenous matier finally became a second nature to her. Chil- as to actually fatten stock to the point of ridicdren had come to cheer the Doggetts. At one ulous obesity.” It was a strong, sweeping