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Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion             287
as a general thing, and questioned him in return. It was all very simple and pleasant and sociable. Rural, too; for there was a pig and a small donkey and a hen anchored out, close at hand, by cords to their legs, on a spot that purported to be grassy. Presently, a woman passed along, and although she coldly said noth­ing she changed the drift of our talk. Said Smith:
" She didn't look this way, you noticed? Well, she is our next neighbor on one side, and there's another family that's our next neighbors on the other side; but there's a general coolness all around now, and we don't speak. Yet these three families, one generation and another, have lived here side by side and been as friendly as weavers for a hundred and fifty years, till about a year ago."
"Why, what calamity could have been powerful enough to break up so old a friendship?"
" Well, it was too bad, but it couldn't be helped. It
happened like this: About a year or more ago, the
rats got to pestering my place a good deal, and I set up
a steel trap in my back-yard. Both of these neighbors
run considerable to cats, and so I warned them about
the trap, because their cats were pretty sociable around
here nights, and they might get into trouble without my
intending it. Well, they shut up their cats for awhile,
but you know how it is with people; they got careless,
and sure enough one night the trap took Mrs. Jones's
principal tomcat into camp and finished him up. In
the morning Mrs. Jones comes here with the corpse in
her arms, and cries and takes on the same as if it was a
child. It was a cat by the name of Yelverton — Hector
G. Yelverton — a troublesome old rip, with no more
principle than an Injun, though you couldn't make her
believe it. I said all a man could to comfort her, but
no, nothing would do but I must pay for him. Finally,
I said I warn't investing in cats now as much as I was, 19