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Boyle, Ruth M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin magazine
Vol. XIII, Number 6 (March 1916)

Stewart, K. Bernice
The odd job man,   p. Twenty-one


Page Twenty-one


THE WISCONSIN MAGAZINE
THE ODD JOB MAN
    By K. Bernice Stewart, '16.
~itX  n   T was the middle of Janu-
           ary, but there was not
           snow enough to cover the
    X    bare ground, and when the
           sun shone the slush stood
in all the roads that led to the mill.
The owner of the little mill walked the
floor of his shabby office, and despair
was written on his face. He stopped in
front of the window and looked out on
the clear blue of the afternoon skv.
  "If it would only freeze up and
snow," he thought, as he looked with
disgust on the pleasant day without.
"Even at this late day we could get
out enough timber to tide us over till
spring."
  He walked to his desk and picked up
a letter which lay open on it.
  "It's bad enough for me to fail," vwent
on the mill-owner, "without having, to
drag so many down with me. I knew
I wouldn't pay any more wag es till
spring, but I thought I could at least
hand out provisions. And now-" here
he smiled hopelessly as though he were
persuading himself there were nothing
left to do but grin and stand it, "now
I get word that there'll be no more sup-
plies sent till I pay a few bills."
  A knock at the office door inter-
rupted these grim thoughts, and in a
moment the tall spare form of Abel
Wright entered. A fit of coughing
overtook him before he sat down, and
it was some moments before he could
speak.
   "I reckon this winter is gettin' the
 best of me, too," he began, as though he
 knew exactly what was in the mill-own-
 er's mind. "The mill is goin' to lack an
odd-job man if things geep goin' this
way." And again his lean frame shook
violently with coughing.
  "I'm sorry to see you worse, Abel,
but it'll freeze up soon and get brisk.
Then you'll feel better like all the rest
of us will."
  "No," said Abel, decisively. "Don't
build any hopes on it's snowing just
because it usually dloes in thle wvin-
ter. Weather and people are two things
you can't depend on. They're always
doing something you don't expect them
to."
  The mill-owner did not note the pro-
phetic sound of Abel's words, and the
odd-job man went on, "Well, boss what
you goin' to do about it? These folks
got to have grub, the same as anybody
else. The store's gettin' barer than
Mothter Hubbard's cupb ard, anad it
don't look like it's going to fill up soon
either."
  "I know, I know," said the mill-
owner hastily, twisting the charm on
his watch chain and wrinkling his
brow.  He was groping bopclesqly
about for a solution to an apllarently
insolvable problem.
  "You can't sell the mill," continued
Abel, as though he were telling the mill-
owner something he didn't already
know, "because she ain't worth the pa-
per her insurance is written on, now
that the lumber's all taken out."
  Abel was saying much more than
most odd-job men say to their employ-
ers, but the mill-owner nodded assent
to everything his visitor said.
  "Abel," he said, "I'm at my rope's
       (Continued on page 30.)
Twenty-one


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