A SOLEMN SITUA TION 87
could no longer have been read, on the most of them, now, even if there had been light.
* A faint wind moaned through the trees, and Tom feared it might be the spirits of the dead, complaining at being disturbed. The boys talked little, and only under their breath, for the time and the place and the pervading solemnity and silence oppressed their spirits. They found the sharp new heap they were seeking, and ensconsced themselves within the protection of three great elms that grew in a bunch within a few feet of the grave.
Then they waited in silence for what seemed a long time. The hooting of a distant owl was all the sound that troubled the dead stillness. Tom's reflections grew oppressive. He must force some talk. So he said in a whisper:
"Hucky, do you believe the dead people like it for us to be here? "
" I wisht I knowed. It's awful solemn like, ain't it? "
" I bet it is."
There was a considerable pause, while the boys canvassed this matter inwardly. Then Tom whispered:
"Say, Hucky—do you reckon Hoss Williams hears us talking? "
"O' course he does. Least his sperrit does."
Tom, after a pause :
" I wish Pd said Mister Williams. But I never meant any harm. Everybody calls him Hoss."
"A body can't be too partic'lar how they talk 'bout these-yer dead people, Tom."
This was a damper, and conversation died again. Presently Tom seized his comrade's arm and said:
"What is it, Tom?" And the two clung together with beating hearts.
" Sh! There 'tis again ! Didn't you hear it ? "
"I - "
" There ! Now you hear it."
"Lord, Tom they're coming! They're coming, sure. What'll we do?"