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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 114

After some haggling the devil proposed that Tom should start a loan office in Boston and use Kidd's money in exacting usury. This suited Tom, who promised to screw four per cent. a month out of the unfortunates who might ask his aid, and he was seen to start for town with a bag which his neighbors thought to hold his crop of starveling turnips, but which was really a king's ransom in gold and jewels—the earnings of Captain Kidd in long years of honest piracy. It was in Governor Belcher's time, and cash was scarce. Merchants and professional men as well as the thriftless went to Tom for money, and, as he always had it, his business grew until he seemed to have a mortgage on half the men in Boston who were rich enough to be in debt. He even went so far as to move into a new house, to ride in his own carriage, and to eat enough to keep body and soul together, for he did not want to give up his soul to the one who would claim it just yet.

The most singular proof of his thrift—showing that he wanted to save soul and money both—was shown in his joining the church and becoming a prayerful Christian. He kept a Bible in his pocket and another on his desk, resolved to be prepared if a certain gentleman should call. He buried his old horse feet uppermost, for he was taught that on resurrection day the world would be turned upside down, and he was resolved, if his enemy appeared, to give him a run for it. While employed one afternoon in the congenial task of foreclosing a mortgage his creditor begged for another day to raise the money. Tom was irritable on account of the hot weather and talked to him as a good man of the church ought not to do.

"You have made so much money out of me," wailed the victim of Tom's philanthropies.

"Now, the devil take me if I have made a farthing!" exclaimed Tom.

At that instant there were three knocks at the door, and, stepping out to see who was there, the money lender found himself in presence of his fate. His little Bible was in a coat on a nail, and the bigger one was on his desk. He was without defence. The evil one caught him up like a child, had him on the back of his snorting steed in no time, and giving the beast a cut he flew like the wind in the teeth of a rising storm toward the marshes of Brighton. As he reached there a lightning flash descended into the wood and set it on fire. At the same moment Tom's house was discovered to be in flames. When his effects were examined nothing was found in his strong boxes but cinders and shavings.





THE GRAY CHAMPION

It befell Sir Edmund Andros to make himself the most hated of the governors sent to represent the king in New England. A spirit of independence, born of a free soil, was already moving in the people's hearts, and the harsh edicts of this officer, as well as the oppressive measures of his master, brought him into continual conflict with the people. He it was who went to Hartford to demand the surrender of the liberties of that colony. The lights were blown out and the patent of those liberties was hurried away from under his nose and hidden from his reach in a hollow of the Charter Oak.


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