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The Road to Paris

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Pages: 262

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Robert Neilson Stephens

Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II. "OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY." The next time Dick went far from home was when the hired man, John Campbell, took him past his grandfather's island, and thence on down the Susque- hanna and into Sherman's Valley, whither Campbell was bent on a courting expedition. During his visit at the house of Campbell's friends, Dick attended the burning out of a snake-nest, an occasion that was participated in by settlers from all the country round. The nest was in a pile of rocks in some woods that a farmer intended to transform into a field for cultivation. Here rattlesnakes and copperheads throve and multiplied. Men with axes and sickles cleared a circle around the rock-pile, at some distance from it, and then set fire to the wood within. When the flame reached the snakes, for which there was no escape, their writhing was a novel sight. Dick, who at first enjoyed the spectacle as only a young boy can enjoy scenes of wholesale slaughter, at last came to being sorry for the victims, because they had no fair fighting chance. The loathsome odor that soon arosedrove him away, so that he lost most of the rum- drinking and other jollification that followed the snake-burning. Snakes, though he could pity those attacked with fire and at a disadvantage, were Dick's abomination. Their abundance was a chief reason why he dared not gratify his taste for roaming far from the house. As yet, when he came on one suddenly, he would act the woman, — that is to say, he would run in great fright, or sometimes stand still in greater, till help came or the snake fled of its own accord. It was several years before he had the courage, on hearing the shriek of some snake-affrighted harvesting woman in the fields, to vie with the men in running to her rescue. For a long time he envied the readine...  

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