The Rich Little Poor Boy

The Rich Little Poor Boy

Eleanor Gates

Biography / Classics / Biography Memoir

CHAPTER I THE WICKED GIANT HE was ten. But his clothes were forty. And it was this difference in the matter of age, and, consequently, in the matter of size, that explained why, at first sight, he did not show how thin-bodied he was, but seemed, instead, to be rather a stout little boy. For his faded, old shirt, with its wide sleeves lopped off just above his elbows, and his patched trousers, shortened by the scissors to knee length, were both many times too large for him, so that they lay upon him, front, back and sides, in great, overlapping pleats that were, in turn, bunched into heavy tucks; and his kitchen apron, worn with the waistband about his neck, the strings being tied at the back, also lent him—if viewed from the front—an appearance both of width and weight. But he was not stout. His frame was not even fairly well covered. From the apron hem in front, the two legs that led down to the floor were scarcely larger than lead piping. From the raveling ends of his short sleeves were thrust out arms that matched the legs—bony, skinny arms, pallid as to color, and with hardly any more shape to them than there was to the poker of the cookstove. But while the lead-pipe legs ended in the sort of hard, splinter-defying boy\'s feet that could be met with on any stretch of pavement outside the tenement, the bony arms did not end in boyish hands. The hands that hung, fingertips touching halfway to the knee, were far too big for a boy of ten. They were red, too, as if all the blood of his thin shoulders had run down his arms and through his wrists, and stayed there. And besides being red, fingers, palms and backs were lined and crinkled. They looked like the hands of a hard-working, grown girl. That was because they knew dish washing and sweeping, bed making and cooking, scrubbing and laundering. But his head was all that a boy\'s head should be, showing plenty of brain room above his ears. While it was still actually—and naturally—large for his body, it looked much too large; not only because the body that did its bidding was undersized, but because his hair, bright and abundant, added to his head a striking circumference. He hated his hair, chiefly because it had a hint of wave in it, but also because its color was yellow, with even a touch of green! He had been taunted about it—by boys. But what was worse, women and girls had admired it, and laid hands upon it—or wanted to. And small wonder; for in thick undulations it stood away from forehead and temples as if blown by the wind. A part it had not, nor any sort of neat arrangement. He saw strictly to that. Whenever his left hand was not busy, which was less often than he could wish, he tugged at his locks, so that they reared themselves on end, especially at the very top, where they leaned in various directions and displayed what appeared to be several cowlicks. At every quarter that shining mop was uneven, because badly cut by Big Tom Barber, his foster father, whose name belied his tonsorial ability....
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Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher

Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher

Eleanor Gates

Biography / Classics / Biography Memoir

“Sweet is the vale where the Mohawk gently glides On its fair, windin’ way to the sea; And dearer by f-a-a-ar––” “Now, look a-here, Alec Lloyd,” broke in Hairoil Johnson, throwin’ up one hand like as if to defend hisself, and givin’ me a kinda scairt look, “you shut you’ bazoo right this minute–and git! Whenever you begin singin’ that song, I know you’re a-figgerin’ on how to marry somebody off to somebody else. And I just won’t have you around!” We was a-settin’ t’gether on the track side of the deepot platform at Briggs City, him a-holdin’ down one end of a truck, and me the other. The mesquite lay in front of us, and it was all a sorta greenish brown account of the pretty fair rain we’d been havin’. They’s miles of it, y’ savvy, runnin’ so far out towards the west line of Oklahomaw that it plumb slices the sky. Through it, north and south, the telegraph poles go straddlin’–in the direction of Kansas City on the right hand, and off past Rogers’s Butte to Albuquerque on the left. Behind us was little ole Briggs, with its one street of square-front buildin’s facin’ the railroad, and a scatterin’ of shacks and dugouts and corrals and tin-can piles in behind.
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