Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 366

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM'S CATASTROPHE

eyes, and answered, rather sullenly, that he did not come from Parker's Falls.
" Well, then," rejoined Dominicus Pike, "let's have the latest news where you did come from. I'm not particular about Parker's Falls. Any place will answer."
The traveler-an ill-looking fellow-appeared to hesitate a little. At last, mounting on the step of the cart, he whispered in the ear of Dominicus, though he might have shouted aloud, and no other mortal would have heard him.
"I do remember one little trifle of news," said he. "Old Mr. Higginbotham, of Kimballton, was murdered in his orchard at eight o'clock last night by an Irishman and a negro. They strung him up to the branch of a St. Michael's pear tree, where nobody would find him till the morning."
As soon as this horrible intelligence was communicated, the stranger betook himself to his journey again, with more speed than ever, not even turning his head when Dominicus invited him to smoke a cigar and relate all the particulars. The peddler whistled to his mare and went up the hill, pondering on the doleful fate of Mr. Higginbotham, whom he had known in the way of trade, having sold him a great deal of tobacco. He was rather astonished at the rapidity with which the news had spread. Kimballton was nearly sixty miles distant in a straight line; the murder had been perpetrated only at eight o'clock the preceding night; yet Dominicus had heard of it at seven in the morning, when, in all probability, poor Mr. Higginbotham's own family had but just discovered his corpse, hanging on the St. Michael's pear tree. The stranger on foot must have worn seven league boots, to travel at such a rate.
" Ill news flies fast, they say," thought Dominicus Pike; "but this beats railroads."
The difficulty was solved by supposing that the narrator

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