xt7pc824bw2d https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7pc824bw2d/data/mets.xml Daviess, Maria Thompson, 1872-1924. 1910  books b92-194-30611143 English Bobbs-Merrill, : Indianapolis : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Road to Providence  / by Maria Thompson Daviess ; ... with illustrations by W.B. King. text Road to Providence  / by Maria Thompson Daviess ; ... with illustrations by W.B. King. 1910 2002 true xt7pc824bw2d section xt7pc824bw2d 



     TH E ROAD

TO PROVIDENCE



             By

  MARIA THOMPSON DAVIESS
      Author of MISS SELINA LUE






        WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
          W. B. KING






          INDIANAPOLIS
   THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
          PUBLISHERS

 







      COPYRIGHT 1910
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY














































            PRESS OF
        BRAUNWORTH  CO.
     BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS
         BROOKLYN, N. Y.

 

























               TO
MR. AND MRS. EDWIN RIPLEY RICHARDSON

 This page in the original text is blank.


 


               CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                   PAGE
  I THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY, MOTHER AND SON    I

  II THE SINGER LADY AND THE BREAD-BOWL     29

  III THE PEONY GIRL AND THE BUMPKIN         59

  IV LOVE, THE: CURE-ALL                    86

  V THE LITTLE RAVEN AND HER COVERED DISH  114

  VI THE PROVIDENCE TAG-GANG                14S

VII PRETTY BETTIE'S WEDDING DAY           173

VIII THE NEST ON PROVIDENCE NOB            201

IX THE LITTLE HARPETH WOMAN OF MANY SORROWS 227


  X THE SONG OF THE MASTER'S GRAIL       . 252

 This page in the original text is blank.

 















THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE

 This page in the original text is blank.


 

                 THE

ROAD TO PROVIDENCE

               CHAPTER I

  THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY, MOTHER AND SON

Nd OW, child, be sure and don't mix 'em with a
q)l heavy hand! Lightness is expected of riz
biscuits and had oughter be dealt out to 'em by the
mixer from the start. Just this way-"
  "Mother, oh, Mother," came a perturbed hail in
Doctor Mayberry's voice from the barn door,
"Spangles is off the nest again-better come quick !"
  "Can't you persuade her some, Tom" Mother
called back from the kitchen door as she peered anx-
iously across the garden fence and over to the gray
barn where the Doctor stood holding the door half
open, but ready for a quick close-up in case of an
unexpected sally. "My hands is in the biscuits and
I don't want to come now. Just try, Tom!"
                     I

 
THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



  "I have tried and I can't do it! She's getting the
whole convention agitated. You'd better come on,
Mother!"
  "Dearie me," said Mrs. Mayberry, as she rinsed
her hands in the wash-pan on the shelf under the
cedar bucket, "Tom is just as helpless with the chick-
ens at setting time as a presiding elder is at a
sewing circle; can't use a needle, too stiff to jine the
talk and only good when it comes to the eating,
from broilers to frying size. Just go on and mix
the biscuits with faith, honey-bird, for I mistrust
I won't be back for quite a spell."
  "Now let me see what all these conniptions is
about," she said in a commanding voice, as she
walked boldly in through her son's cautiously
widened door gap.
  And a scene of confusion that was truly feminine
met her capable glance. Fuss-and-Feathers, a stylish
young spangled Wyandotte, was waltzing up and
down the floor and shrieking an appeal in the direc-
tion of a whole row of half-barrel nests that
stretched along the dark and sequestered side of the
feed-room floor, upon which was established what
                       2

 
THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



had a few minutes before been a placid row of
setting hens. Now over the rim of each nest was
stretched a black, white, yellow or gray head, pop-
eyed with alarm and reproach. They were emitting
a chorus of indignant squawks, all save a large,
motherly old dominick in the middle barrel who was
craning her scaly old neck far over toward the
perturbed young sister and giving forth a series
of reassuring and commanding clucks.
  "I didn't do a thing in the world to them,
Mother," said Doctor Tom in a deprecatory tone
of voice, as if he were in a way to be blamed for the
whole excitement. "I was across the barn at the
corncrib when she hopped off her nest and went on
the rampage. Just a case of the modern feminine
rebellion, I wager."
  "No such thing, sir! They ain't nothing in the
world the matter with her 'cept as bad a case of
young-mother skeer as I have ever had before
amongst all my hens. Don't you see, Tom, two of
her setting have pipped they shells and the cheep-
ings of the little things have skeered the poor young
thing 'most to death. Old Dominick have took in
                       3

 
THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



the case and is trying her chicken-sister best to com-
fort her. These here pullet spasms over the hatch-
ing of the first brood ain't in no way unusual. The
way you have forgot chicken habits since you have
growed up is most astonishing to me, after all the
helping with them I taught you." As she spoke,
Mother Mayberry had been rearranging the deserted
nest with practised hand and had tenderly lifted two
feeble, moist little new-borns on her broad palm to
show to the Doctor.
  "What are you going to do with them, Mother "
he asked, for though his education in chicken lore
seemed to have been in vain he was none the less
sympathetically interested in his mother's practice
of the hen-craft.
  "I'm just going to give 'em to Old Dominick to
dry out and warm up for her while I persuade her
back on the nest. As she gets used to hearing the
cheepings from under another hen she'll take the
next ones that come with less mistrust." And suit-
ing her actions to her words Mother Mayberry
slipped the two forlorn little mites under a warm old
wing that stretched itself out with gentleness to
                        4

 
THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



receive and comfort them. Some budding instinct
had sent the foolish fluff of stylish feathers cluck-
ing at her skirts, so she bent down and with a gentle
and sympathetic hand lifted the young inadequate
back on the nest.
  "I really oughter put on a cover and make her
set on the next," she said doubtfully, "but it do
seem kinder to teach her hovering a little at a time.
Course all women things has got mothering borned
into 'em, but it comes easier to some than to others.
I always feel like giving 'em a helping hand at the
start off."
  "You have a great deal of faith if you feel sure
of that universally maternal instinct in these days,
Mother," said the Doctor with a teasing smile as he
handed her a quart cup of oats from the bin.
  "Oh, I know what you're talking about," an-
swered Mother, as she scattered a little grain in
front of each nest and prepared to leave in peace
and quiet the brooding mothers. "It's this woman's
rights and wrongs question. I've been so busy doc-
toring Providence Road pains and trying to make
a good, proper husband outen you for some nice girl,
                        5

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



what some other woman have been putting licks on
to get ready for you, that I've been too pushed to
think about the wrongs being did to me. But not
knowing any more about it than I do, I think this
woman's rumpus all sounds kinder like a hen
scratching around in unlikely and contrary corners
for the bread of life, when she knows they is plenty
of crumbs at the kitchen door to be et up. But if
you're going to ride over to Flat Rock this evening
you'd better go on and get back in time for some
riz biscuits as Elinory is a-making for you this
blessed minute."
  "She's not making them for me," answered the
young Doctor with the color rising under his clear,
tanned skin up to his very forelock. As he spoke
he busied himself with bridling his restless young
mare.
  "Of course she is," answered his mother se-
renely. "Women don't take no interest in cooking
unless they's a man to eat the fixings. Left to
herself she'd eat store bread and cheese with her
head outen the window for the birds to clean up
the crumbs. Stop by and ask after Mis' Bostick
                        6

 
THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



and the Deacon. And if you bring me a little candy
from the store with the letters, maybe I'll eat it to
please you. Now be a-going so as to be a-coming
the sooner." With which admonition Mother took
her departure down the garden path.
  She was tall and broad, was Mother Mayberry,
and in her walk was left much of the lissome strength
of her girlhood to lighten the matronly dignity of
her carriage. Her stiffly starched, gray-print skirts
swept against a budding border of jonquils and the
spring breezes floated an end of her white lawn tie
as a sort of challenge to a young cherry tree, that
was trying to snow out under the influence of the
warm sun. Her son smiled as he saw her stoop
to lift a feeble, over-early hop toad back under
the safety of the jonquil leaves, out of sight of a
possible savage rooster. He knew what expression
lay in her soft gray eyes that brooded under her
wide, placid brow, upon which fell abundant and
often riotous silver water-waves. His own eyes were
very like them and softened as he looked at her,
while a masculine version of one of her quick
dimples quirked at the corner of his clean-cut mouth.
                       7

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



  "The bread of life-she's found it," he said to
himself musingly as he slipped the last buckle in
his bridle tight.
  "Elirfory," called Mother Mayberry from the
kitchen steps, "come out here and sense the spring.
Everywhere you look they is some young thing
a-peeping up or a-reaching out or a-running over
or wobbling or bleating or calling. Looks like the
whole world have done broke out in blooms and
babies."
  "I can't-I wish I could," came an answer in a
low, beautiful voice with a queer, husky note. "It's
all sticking to my hands, flour and everything, and
I don't know what to do !"
  "Dearie me, you've put in the milk a little too
liberal! Wait until I sift on a mite more flour.
Now rub it in light! See, it's all right, and most
beautiful dough. Don't be discouraged, for riz
biscuits is most the top test of cooking. Keep re-
membering back to those cup custards you made
yesterday, what Tom Mayberry ate three of for sup-
per and then tried to sneak one outen the milk-
house to eat before he went to bed."
                       8

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



  "Oh, did he"asked Miss Wingate with delight
shining in her dark eyes and a beautiful pink rising
up in her pale cheeks. "I wish I could do some-
thing to please him and make him feel how-how-
grateful I am-for the hope he's given me. I was
so hopeless and unhappy-and desperate when I
came. But I believe my voice is coming back I
Every day it's stronger and you are so good to me
and make me so happy that I'm not afraid any
more. You give me faith to hope-as well as to
mix biscuits." And a pearly tear splashed on the
rolling-pin.
  "Yes, put your trust in the Heavenly Father,
child, and some in Tom Mayberry. Before you know
it you'll be singing like the birds out in the trees; but
I can't let myself think about the time's a-coming for
you to fly away to the other people's trees to sing.
When Tom told me about Doctor Stein's wanting to
send a great big singer lady, what had lost her voice,
down here to see if he couldn't cure her like he did
that preacher man and the politics speaker, I was
skeered for both him and me, for I knew things was
kinder simple with us here and I was afraid I
                       9

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



couldn't make you happy and comfortable. But
then I remembered Doctor Stein had stayed 'most
two weeks when he came South with Tom for a visit
and said he had tacked ten years on to the end of his
life by just them few days of Providence junketings
and company feedings, so I made up my mind
not to be proud none and to say for you to come
on. I've got faith in my boy's doctoring same as
them New York folks has, and I wanted him to try
to cure you. Then I knew you didn't have no
mother to pet up the sick throat none. A little con-
soling comfort is a good dose to start healing any
kind of trouble with. I knew I had plenty of that
in my heart to prescribe out to help along with your
case; so here you are not three weeks with us,
a-mixing riz biscuits for Tom's supper and like to
coax the heart outen both of us. I told him- Dearie
me, somebody's calling at the front gate!"
  "Mis' Mayberry! Oh, Mis' Mayberry!" came a
high, quavering old voice from around the corner
of the house, and Squire Tutt hove in sight. He
was panting for breath and trembling with rage as
he ascended the steps and stood in the kitchen door.
                      I0

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



Mother hastened to bring him a chair into which
he wheezingly subsided.
  "Why, Squire," she questioned anxiously, "have
anything happened  Is Mis' Tutt tooken with
lumbago again"
  "No!" exploded the Squire, "she's well-always
is! I'm the only really sick folks in Providence,
though I don't git no respect for it. In pain all the
time and no respect-no respect!"
  "Now, Squire, everybody in Providence have got
sympathy for your tisic, and just yesterday Mis'
Pike was a-asking me-"
  "Tisic! I ain't talking about tisic now! It's
this pain in my stomick that that young limb of satan
of your'n insulted me about not a hour ago. Me
a-writhing in tormint with nothing less'n a cancer
-insulted me!" As the Squire projected his re-
mark toward Mother Mayberry he bent double and
peered expectantly up into her sympathetic face.
  "Why, what did he do, Squire " demanded
Mother, with a glance at Miss Wingate, who still
stood at the biscuit block cutting out her dough. She
regarded the old man with alarmed wonder.
                      II

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



  "Told me to drink two cups of hot water and
lie down a hour-me in tormint 1" The Squire
fairly spit his complaint into the air.
  "Dearie me, Tom had oughter known better than
that about one of your spells," said Mother. "Why,
I've been a-curing them for years for you myself
with nothing more'n a little drop of spirits, red
pepper and mint. He had oughter told you to take
that instead of hot water. I'm sorry-"
  "Oughter told me to take spirits-told me to take
spirits! Don't you know, Mis' Mayberry, a man
with a sanctified wife can't take no spirits; they
must be gave to him by somebody not a member of
the family. Me a-suffering tormints-two cups of
hot water-tormints, tormints!"
  The old man's voice rose to a perfect wail, but
came down a note or two as Mother hastily reached
in the press and drew out a tall, old demijohn and
poured a liberal dose of the desired medicine into
a glass. She added a dash of red pepper and a few
drops of peppermint. This treatment of the Squire's
dram in Mother's estimation turned a sinful bever-
age into a useful medicine and served to soothe her
                      12

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



conscience while it disturbed the Squire's apprecia-
tion of her treatment not at all. He swallowed the
fiery dose without as much as the blink of an eyelid
and on the instant subsided into comfortable com-
placency.
  "Please forgive Tom for not having more gump-
tion, Squire, and next time you're took come right
over to me same as usual. Course I know all the
neighbors feel as how Tom is young and have just
hung out his shingle here, and I ain't expectin' of
'em to have no confidence in him. I think it my duty
to just go on with my usual doctoring of my friends.
I hope you won't hold this mistake against Tom."
  "Well," said the Squire in a mollified tone of
voice, "I won't say no more, but you must tell
him to stop fooling with these here Providence
people. Stopped Ezra Pike's wife feeding her baby
on pot-liquor and give it biled milk watered with
lime juice. It'll die-it'll die!"
  "Oh no, Squire, it's a-getting well-jest as peart
as can be," Mother said in a mollifying tone of
voice.
  "It'll die-it'll die! Cut one er the lights outen
                       I3

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



Sam Mosbey's side-called it a new fangled impen-
dix name-but he'll die-he'll die I"
  "Sam's a-working out there on the barn roof
right this minute, Squire, good and alive," said
Mother Mayberry with a good-humored smile,
while Miss Wingate cast a restrained though indig-
nant glance at the doubting old magistrate.
  "And old Deacon Bostick drinking cow-hot milk
and sucking raw eggs! He looks like a mixed calf
and shanghai rooster! So old he'd oughter die-
and he'll do it! Hot water and me in tormint!
Hot water on his middle in a rubber bag and nothing
inside er him! He'll die-he'll die !"
  "Oh no, Squire, the good Lord have gave Deacon
Bostick back to us from the edge of the grave; Tom
a-working day and night but under His guidance.
He have gained ten pounds and walks everywhere.
It were low typhus, six weeks running, too! I'm
glad it were gave to me to see my son bring back
a saint to earth from the gates themselves. Have
you been by to see him"
  "Yes," answered the Squire as he rose much
more briskly than he had seated himself, and pre-
                      14

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



pared to take his departure. "Yes, and it was you
a-nussing of him that did it-muster slipped him
calimile-but I ain't a-disputing t Play actor, ain't
you, girl " he demanded as he paused on his way out
of the door and peered over at Miss Wingate with
his beetling, suspicious eyes.
  "Yes," answered the singer lady as she went on
putting her biscuit into the pan. If her culinary
manceuvers were slow they were at least sure and
the "riz" biscuits looked promising.
  "Dearie me," said Mother as she returned from
guiding her guest down the front walk and into
the shaded Road, "it do seem that Squire Tutt gets
more rantankerous every day. Poor Mis' Tutt is
just wore out with contriving with him. It's a
wonder she feels like she have got any ease at all,
much less a second blessing. Now I must turn to
and make a dish of baked chicken hash for supper
to be et with them feather biscuits of your'n. I
want to compliment them by the company of a extra
nice dish. If they come out the oven in time I want
to ask Sam Mosbey to stop in and get some, with a
little quince preserves. He brought his dinner in
                      '5

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



a bucket, which troubled me, for who's got foot on
my land, two or four, I likes to feed myself. I ex-
pected he was some mortified at your being here.
He's kinder shy like in the noticing of girls."
  "That seems to be a failing with the Providence
young-with Providence people," ventured Miss
Wingate with ambiguity.
  "Oh, country boys is all alike," answered Mother
comfortingly, only in a measure taking in the tenta-
tive observation. "They're all kinder co'ting tongue-
tied. They have to be eased along attentive, all
cept Buck Peavey, who'd like to eat Pattie up same
as a cannibal, I'm thinking, and don't mind who
knows it. Now the supper is all on the simmer and
can be got ready in no time. Let's me and you
walk down to the front gate and watch for Tom to
come around the Nob from Flat Rock and then
we can run in the biscuits. Maybe we'll hear some
news; I haven't hardly seen any folks to-day and I
mistrust some mischief are a-brewing somewhere."
  And Mother Mayberry's well trained intuitions
must have been in unusually good working order,
for she met her expected complications at the
                      I6

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



very front gate. She was just turning to point out
a promise of an unusually large crop of snowballs
on the old shrub by the gate-post when a subdued
sniffling made itself heard and caused her to con-
centrate her attention on the house opposite across
the Road. And a sympathy stirring scene met her
eyes. Perched along the fence were all five of the
little Pikes clinging to the top board in forlorn de-
spondency. On the edge of the porch sat Mr. Pike
in his shirt sleeves with his pipe in one hand and
the Teether Pike balanced on his knee. His expres-
sion matched that of the children in the matter of
gloom, and like them he glanced apprehensively
toward the door as if expecting Calamity to issue
from his very hearthstone.
  "Why, what's the matter" demanded Mother as
she hurried to the edge of the sidewalk followed by
the singer lady, whose acquaintance with the young
Pikes had long before ripened to the stage of inti-
mate friendship. At the sight of her sympathetic
face, Eliza, the first Pike, slipped to the ground and
buried her head in her new but valued friend's
dainty muslin skirt. Bud, the next rung of the stair
                       17

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



steps licked out his tongue to dispose of a mortify-
ing tear and little Susie sobbed outright. At this
juncture, just as Mother was about to demand
again an explanation of such united woe, Mrs. Pike
came to the door, and a large spoon and a bottle
full of amber, liquid grease made further inquiry
unnecessary.
  "Sakes, Mis' Mayberry, I certainly am glad you
have came over to back me up in getting down these
doses of oil. Ez," with an indignant and contempt-
uous glance at her sullen husband, "don't want me to
give it to 'em. He'd rather they'd up and die than
to stand the ruckus, but I ain't a-going to let my own
children perish for a few cherry seeds with a bottle
of oil in the house and Doctor Tom Mayberry's pre-
scription to give 'em a spoonful all around." Mrs.
Pike was short and stout, but with a martial and de-
termined eye, and as she spoke she began to measure
out a first dose with her glance fixed on young Bud,
who turned white around his little mouth and clung
to the fence. Susie's sobs rose to a wail and Eliza
shuddered in Miss Wingate's skirt.
  "Wait a minute, Mis' Pike," said Mother hur-
                       I8

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



riedly, "are you sure they have et cherry seeds
Cherries aint ripe yet, and-"
  "We didn't-we didn't !" came in a perfect chorus
of wails from the little fence birds.
  "Of course they did, Mis' Mayberry!" exclaimed
their mother relentlessly. "It was two jars of cherry
preserves that Prissy put up and clean forgot to
seed 'fore she biled 'em, and the children done took
and et 'em on the sly. Now they're going to suffer
for it."
  "We all spitted the seeds out, and we was so
hungry, too !" Eliza took courage to sob from Miss
Wingate's skirt. Bud managed to echo her state-
ment, while Susie and the two little boys gave con-
firmation from their wide-open, terror-stricken eyes.
  "Well, now, maybe they did, Mis' Pike," said
Mother, coming near to argue the question. Her
hand rested sustainingly on one of the brave young
Bud's knees which jutted out from the fence.
  "Can't trust 'em, Mis' Mayberry, fer if they'll
steal they'll lie," said Mrs. Pike in a voice tinged
with the deepest melancholy for the fallen estate of
her family. "They'll have to suffer for both sins
                       I9

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



whether they did or didn't," and again the bottle
was poised.
  "Now hold on, Mis' Pike," again exclaimed
Mother Mayberry as her face illumined with a
bright smile. "If they throwed away the cherry
pits they must be where they throwed 'em and they
can go find 'em to prove they character. They ain't
nothing fairer than that. Where did you eat the
preserves, children " she asked, but there was a wild
rush around the corner of the house before her
question was answered.
  "Now," exclaimed the astonished mother, "I
never thought of that and if they thought to spit
out one stone they did the balance. But Doctor Tom
was so kind to tell me about the oil and I paid fifteen
cents down at the store for it, that I'm a mind to
give it to 'em anyway."
  "I'll be blamed if you do," ejaculated her indig-
nant husband as he shouldered Teether and strode
into the house, unable longer to restrain his rage.
   "Ain't that just like him !" said his wife in a re-
signed voice. "And I was just going to try to make
him take this spoonful I've poured out. It won't
                       20

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



hurt him none and it's a pity to pour it back, it
wastes so. Do either of you all need it" she asked
hospitably.
  Miss Wingate was dissenting with an echo of
Eliza's shudder and Mother Mayberry with a laugh,
when the reprieved criminals raced back around the
house, each dirty little fist inclosing a reasonable
number of grubby cherry stones.
  "Well," assented their mother reluctantly, "I'll
let you off this time, but don't any of you never
take nothing to eat again without asking, and I'm
a-going to punish you by making you every one
wash your feet in cold water and go to bed. Now
mind me and all stand to onct in the tub by the
pump and tell your Paw I say not to touch that
kettle of hot water. I don't want you to have a
drop. Go right on and do as I say."
  The threatened punishment had been too great
for the youngsters to mind this lesser and accus-
tomed penalty, so they retired with cheerfulness and
spirits and in a few seconds a chorus of squeals and
splashes came from the back yard.
  After an exchange of friendly good-bys Mrs.
                      21

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



Pike entered her front door and Mother and the
singer lady returned to their own front gate.
  "Dearie me," said Mother in a tone of positive
discouragement, "I don't know what I will do if
I have to undo another one of Tom Mayberry's
prescriptions to-day. But you couldn't expect a man
to untangle a children quirk like that; and oil
woulder been the thing for the cherry stones in
children's stomachs, but not for ones throwed on
the back walk. I hope the Squire won't hear about
it," she added with a laugh.
  "I think," said Miss Wingate with her dark eyes
fixed on Mother's face with positive awe, "I think
you are wonderful with everybody. You know just
what to do for them, and what to say to them
and-"
  "Well," interrupted Mother with a laugh, "it are
gave to some women to be called on the Lord's ease
mission, and I reckon I'm of that band. Don't you
know I'm the daughter of a doctor, and the wife of
a doctor and the mother of one as good as either
of the other two I can't remember the time when
I didn't project with the healing of ailments. When
                      22

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



I married Doctor Mayberry and come down over the
Ridge from Warren County with him, he had his
joke with me about my herb-basket and a-setting up
opposition to him. It's in our blood. My own
cousin Seliny Lue Lovell down at the Bluff follows
the calling just the same as I do. I say the Lord
were good to me to give me the love of it and a
father and a husband and now a son to practise
with."
  "The Doctors Mayberry, Mother and Son, how
interesting that sounds, Mrs. Mayberry," exclaimed
Miss Wingate with a delightful laugh. "And no
wonder Doctor Mayberry is so gifted that he gets
National commissions to study Pellagra and-and
has a troublesome singer lady sent all the way from
New York to patch up."
  "Yes, it do look like that Tom Mayberry gets in
a good chanct everywhere he goes. Some folks
picks a friend offen every bush they passes and
Tom's one. He was honored considerable in New
York and then sent over to Berlin, Europe, and be-
yont to study up about people's skins. And then
here he comes back, sent by the Government right
                      23

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



down to Flat Rock, on the other side of Providence
Nob, to study out about that curious corn disease
they calls Pellagra, what I don't think is a thing in
the world but itch and can be cured by a little sul-
phur and hog lard. But I'm blessing the chanct that
brought him back to me, even if I know it are just
for a spell. And, too, he oughter be happy to have
brung his mother such a song bird as you. I'm
so used to you and your helping me with Cindy
away to Springfield, that I don't see how I ever got
along without you or ever will." As she spoke,
Mother Mayberry smiled delightedly at the singer
girl and drew her closer. Mother's voice at most
times was a delicious mixture of banter and caress.
  "Perhaps I'll stay always," said the singer lady
as she drew close against the gray print shoulder.
"When I look around me I feel as if I had awakened
in a beautiful world with no more dirty, smoky
cities that hurt my throat, no more hot, lighted the-
aters, no noises, and everything is just a great big
bouquet of soft smells and colors."
  As she spoke, Elinor Wingate, who was just a
tired girl in the circle of Mother Mayberry's strong
                      24

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



arm, let her great dark eyes wander off across the
meadow to where a dim rim of Harpeth Hills
seemed to close in the valley. Her glance returned to
the low, wing-spreading, brick farm-house, which,
vine-covered, lilac-hedged and maple-shaded, seemed
to nestle against the breast of Providence Nob, at
whose foot clustered the little settlement of Provi-
dence and around whose side ran the old wilder-
ness trail called Providence Road. And her face
was soft with a light of utter contentment, for un-
der that low-gabled roof she was finding strength
to hope for the recovery of her lost treasure, with-
out which life would seem a void. Then for a
moment she looked down the village Road, across
which the trees were casting long afternoon shad-
ows and along which was flowing the tide of late
afternoon social life. Women hung over the front
gates to greet men in from the fields or from down
the Road, girls laughed and chaffed one another or
the blushing country boys, and the children played
tag and hop-scotch back and forth along the way.
   "It's all lovely," she said again with a contented
little sigh. When she spoke softly there was not a
                        25

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



trace of the burr in her voice and it was as sweet
as a dove note.
  "Days like these we had oughter take the world
as a new gift from God," said Mother musingly.
"It were a day like this I come with Doctor May-
berry along the Road to Providence to live, and
stopped right at this gate under this very maple tree,
thirty-five years ago; and thirty of 'em have I lived
lonesome without him. I had a baby at my breast
and Tom by my knee when he went away from us,
and I know now it was the call laid on me to take up
his work that saved me. When I got back from the
funeral and had laid the baby on the bed Mis' Jim
Petway come a-running up the road crying that El-
len, her youngest child, were a-choking to death with
croup. I never had a thought but to take his saddle-
bags and follow her, and somehow the good Lord
guided my hand amongst his medicines, and with
what I had learned from him and Pa I fought a
good fight and saved the little thing's life, though it
took the night to do it. And in one of them dark
hours a sister-to-woman sense was born in me what
I ain't never lost. A neighbor took Tom and they
                      26

 

THE DOCTORS MAYBERRY



brought my baby to me and I stayed by Mis' Petway
until they weren't no more danger. Next day it were
Squire Tutt's first wife tooken down with the fever
and not the week passed before that very Sam
Mosbey were borned. We was too poor to have
a doctor come and live here and they was
a doctor over to Springfield took up my hus-
band's county practice, so I jest naturally had
to do the healing myself, only a-sending for him
in the worst cases. They was a heap of teethers
that summer and it kept me busy looking after 'em.
I expect I made mistakes but I kept up me and the
patients' courage by sympathizing and heartening.
It didn't cost nobody nothing and we wasn't so
prosperous then that it wasn't a help for me to do
the doctoring when I could, and I mostly were able.
I were glad of the work and did it with a thankful
mind; not as they wasn't times when I felt sick at
heart, and in danger of questioning why, but I tried
to steady myself with prayer until I could find the
Everlasting Arm to lean on that is always held out
to the widow and the fatherless. And so a-leaning I
have got me and Tom Mayberry along until now."
                      27

 

THE ROAD TO PROVIDENCE



  "And the whole rest of the world leaning on you,"
said the lovely lady as she drew nearer and caught
Mother Mayberry's strong hand in her own slender
fingers.
  "Well," answered Mother, as she shaded her eyes
with her other hand to look far up the Road
toward the Ridge over which they were waiting
for the Doctor's horse to appear, "looks like often
hands a-reaching out for help gives strength before
they takes any,