The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 4, page 1 of 16)


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Chapter 4

The Briscoe buckboard rattled along the elastic country-road, the roans
setting a sharp pace as they turned eastward on the pike toward home and
supper.

"They'll make the eight miles in three-quarters of an hour," said the
judge, proudly. He pointed ahead with his whip. "Just beyond that bend we
pass through Six-Cross-Roads."

Miss Sherwood leaned forward eagerly. "Can we see 'Mr. Wimby's' house from
here?"

"No, it's on the other side, nearer town; we pass it later. It's the only
respectable-looking house in this township." They reached the turn of the
road, and the judge touched up his colts to a sharper gait. "No need of
dallying," he observed quietly. "It always makes me a little sick just to
see the place. I'd hate to have a break-down here."

They came in sight of a squalid settlement, built raggedly about a
blacksmith's shop and a saloon. Half-a-dozen shanties clustered near the
forge, a few roofs scattered through the shiftlessly cultivated fields,
four or five barns propped by fence-rails, some sheds with gaping
apertures through which the light glanced from side to side, a squad of
thin, "razor-back" hogs--now and then worried by gaunt hounds--and some
abused-looking hens, groping about disconsolately in the mire, a broken-
topped buggy with a twisted wheel settling into the mud of the middle of
the road (there was always abundant mud, here, in the dryest summer), a
lowering face sneering from a broken window--Six-Cross-Roads was
forbidding and forlorn enough by day. The thought of what might issue from
it by night was unpleasant, and the legends of the Cross-Roads, together
with an unshapen threat, easily fancied in the atmosphere of the place,
made Miss Sherwood shiver as though a cold draught had crossed her.

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