Alton


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The landlord of the Franklin House informed me that my uncle, one Adam Chamberlain, lived some five miles back from the town at a place called Monticillo or Skerretts Prairie.

The Bells of Coal Branch
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I proceeded on past a log Cabin with the largest family of children I ever saw, over twenty of all sizes, but all girls came flocking over to gaze at the stranger passing. The strangest part of the whole was they all look alike! Faces the color of tallow, straight uncombed tow colord hair, sore pale blue eyes, all dressed in coarse homespun gowns, at least half of them were under eight years in age. Taken altogether they were the queerest lot of humanity ever seen in one group. The house was a miserable one room Cabin, with broken windows, the yard overgrown with rank weeks and foul with decayed fish, animal and vegetable matter. With a shudder of disgust I hurred on when one of the older ones placed herself in my way and with obscene, lascivious actions and words invited me to stop and rest. I run away from this den of abomination, and I could hear for a long distance their horrid terrible screams and fiendish laughter.

The "Red Barn Farm" Skerrits Prairie
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I pursued my way, ruminating on my experience so far in the Sucker State. I soon came to a clearing of some two hundred acres with a large Barn painted red, a small log house and numerous outbuildings. I knew at once this was my Uncle's farm.

After I made myself known I was received I thought very cooly. My Uncle was a man of some forty five, quite gray with Avarice speaking out from every line of his sharp Yankee face. When I saw this, my heart felt like lead; it killed all thoughts of a loan.

A Slight Unpleasantness Settled
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...A scream from all the girls made me look round just in time. My precious Guardian was rushing on me with a uplifted axe; his eyes meant murder; he was deturmind to bury the secret of the grove and past differences in my grave. To avoid the blow, wrench the murderous weapon from his hands, with a blow from my fist to lay him beside his motionless son, was but the work of a moment. I felt all on fire, with one foot on his chest I brandished the axe to brain him. The girls shreiked, and some fainted, when my better nature prevailed and throwing the horrid weapon away I sat down on a log and cried like a child...

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