It was the first of April, and Julius Barrett, aged
fourteen, perched on his father's gatepost, watched ruefully
the low descending sun, and counted that day lost. He had
not succeeded in "fooling" a single person, although he had
*5*tried repeatedly. One and all, old and young, of his
intended victims had been too wary for Julius. Hence,
Julius was disgusted and ready for anything in the way of a
stratagem or a spoil.
The Barrett gatepost topped the highest hill in Valley
*10*View. Julius could see the entire settlement, from "Young"
Thomas Everett's farm, a mile to the west, to Adelia
Williams's weather-grey little house on a moonrise slope to
the east. He was gazing moodily down the muddy road
when Dan Chester, homeward bound from the post office,
*15*came riding sloppily along on his grey mare and pulled up
by the Barrett gate to hand a paper to Julius. Dan was a
young man who took life and himself very seriously. He
seldom smiled, never joked, and had a Washingtonian
reputation for veracity. Dan had never told a conscious
*20*falsehood in his life; he never even exaggerated.
Julius, beholding Dan's solemn face, was seized with a
perfectly irresistible desire to "fool" him. At the same
moment his eye caught the dazzling reflection of the
setting sun on the windows of Adelia Williams's house, and
*25*he had an inspiration little short of diabolical. "Have you
heard the news, Dan?" he asked.
"No, what is it?" asked Dan.
"I dunno's I ought to tell it," said Julius reflectively.
"It's kind of a family affair, but then Adelia didn't say not
*30*to, and anyway it'll be all over the place soon. So I'll tell
you, Dan, if you'll promise never to tell who told you.
Adelia Williams and Young Thomas Everett are going to
Julius delivered himself of this tremendous lie with a
*35*transparently earnest countenance. Yet Dan, credulous as
he was, could not believe it all at once.
"Git out," he said.
"It's true, 'pon my word," protested Julius. "Adelia was
up last night and told Ma all about it. Ma's her cousin, you
*40*know. The wedding is to be in June, and Adelia asked Ma
to help her get her quilts and things ready."
Julius reeled all this off so glibly that Dan finally
believed the story, despite the fact that the people thus
coupled together in prospective matrimony were the very
*45*last people in Valley View who could have been expected to
marry each other. Young Thomas was a confirmed
bachelor of fifty, and Adelia Williams was forty; they were
not supposed to be even well acquainted, as the Everetts
and the Williamses had never been very friendly, although
*50*no open feud existed between them.
Nevertheless, in view of Julius's circumstantial
statements, the amazing news must be true, and Dan was
instantly agog to carry it further. Julius watched Dan and
the grey mare out of sight, fairly writhing with ecstasy. Oh,
*55*but Dan had been easy! The story would be all over Valley
View in twenty-four hours. Julius laughed until he came
near to falling off the gatepost.
At this point Julius and Danny drop out of our story,
and Young Thomas enters.
*60* It was two days later when Young Thomas heard that
he was to be married to Adelia Williams in June. Eben
Clark, the blacksmith, told him when he went to the forge
to get his horse shod. Young Thomas laughed his big jolly
laugh. Valley View gossip had been marrying him off for
*65*the last thirty years, although never before to Adelia
"It's news to me," he said tolerantly.
Eben grinned broadly. "Ah, you can't bluff it off like
that, Tom," he said. "The news came too straight this
*70*time. Well, I was glad to hear it, although I was mighty
surprised. I never thought of you and Adelia. But she's a
fine little woman and will make you a capital wife."
Young Thomas grunted and drove away. He had a good
deal of business to do that day, involving calls at various
*75*places-the store for molasses, the mill for flour, Jim
Bentley's for seed grain, the doctor's for toothache drops
for his housekeeper, the post office for mail-and at each
and every place he was joked about his approaching
marriage. In the end it rather annoyed Young Thomas. He
*80*drove home at last in what was for him something of a
temper. How on earth had that fool story started? With
such detailed circumstantiality of rugs and quilts, too?
Adelia Williams must be going to marry somebody, and
the Valley View gossips, unable to locate the man, had
*85*guessed Young Thomas.