proclaimed it his opinion that Boomsher had been gradually corrupted

from Beaumarchais. When he wrote the word on his visiting card and

showed it to Mr. Wiley, Old Kennebec had replied, that in the judgment

of a man who had lived in large places and seen a turrible lot o' life,

such a name could never have been given either to a Christian or a

heathen family,--that the way in which the letters was thrown together

into it, and the way in which they was sounded when read out loud, was

entirely ag'in reason. It was true, he said, that Beaumarchais, bein'

such a fool name, might 'a' be'n invented a-purpose for a fool family,

but he wouldn't hold even with callin' 'em Boomsher; Crambry was well

enough for'em an' a sight easier to speak.

Stephen knew a good deal about the Crambrys, for he passed their

so-called habitation in going to one of his wood-lots. It was only a

month before that he had found them all sitting outside their

broken-down fence, surrounded by decrepit chairs, sofas, tables,

bedsteads, bits of carpet, and stoves.

"What's the matter?" he called out from his wagon. "There ain't nothin'

the matter," said Alcestis Crambry. "Father's dead, an we're dividin' up

the furnerchure."

Alcestis was the pride of the Crambrys, and the list of his attainments

used often to be on his proud father's lips. It was he who was the

largest, "for his size," in the family; he who could tell his brothers

Paul and Arcadus "by their looks;" he who knew a sour apple from a sweet

one the minute he bit it; he who, at the early age of ten, was bright

enough to point to the cupboard and say, "Puddin', dad!"

Alcestis had enjoyed, in consequence of his unusual intellectual powers,

some educational privileges, and the Killick schoolmistress well

remembered his first day at the village seat of learning. Reports of

what took place in this classic temple from day to day may have been

wafted to the dull ears of the boy, who was not thought ready for school

until he had attained the ripe age of twelve. It may even have been

that specific rumors of the signs, symbols, and hieroglyphics used in

educational institutions had reached him in the obscurity of his

cranberry meadows. At all events, when confronted by the alphabet chart,

whose huge black capitals were intended to capture the wandering eyes of

the infant class, Alcestis exhibited unusual, almost unnatural,


"That is 'A,' my boy," said the teacher genially, as she pointed to the

first character on the chart.

"Good God, is that 'A'!" exclaimed Alcestis, sitting down heavily on

the nearest bench. And neither teacher nor scholars could discover

whether he was agreeably surprised or disappointed in the

letter,--whether he had expected, if he ever encountered it, to find it

writhing in coils on the floor of a cage, or whether it simply bore no

resemblance to the ideal already established in his mind.

Mrs. Wiley had once tried to make something of Mercy, the oldest

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