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Poor White

CHAPTER VIII
When Clara Butterworth, the daughter of Tom Butterworth, was eighteen years
old she graduated from the town high school. Until the summer of her
seventeenth year, she was a tall, strong, hard-muscled girl, shy in the presence
of strangers and bold with people she knew well. Her eyes were extraordinarily
gentle.
The Butterworth house on Medina Road stood back of an apple orchard and
there was a second orchard beside the house. The Medina Road ran south from
Bidwell and climbed gradually upward toward a country of low hills, and from the
side porch of the Butterworth house the view was magnificent. The house itself
was a large brick affair with a cupola on top and was considered at that time the
most pretentious place in the county.
Behind the house were several great barns for the horses and cattle. Most of
Tom Butterworth's farm land lay north of Bidwell, and some of his fields were five
miles from his home; but as he did not himself work the land it did not matter.
The farms were rented to men who worked them on shares. Beside the business
of farming Tom carried on other affairs. He owned two hundred acres of hillside
land near his house and, with the exception of a few fields and a strip of forest
land, it was devoted to the grazing of sheep and cattle. Milk and cream were
delivered each morning to the householders of Bidwell by two wagons driven by
his employees. A half mile to the west of his residence there was a slaughter
house on a side road and at the edge of a field where cattle were killed for the
Bidwell market. Tom owned it and employed the men who did the killing. A creek
that came down out of the hills through one of the fields past his house had been
dammed, and south of the pond there was an ice house. He also supplied the
town with ice. In his orchards beneath the trees stood more than a hundred
beehives and every year he shipped honey to Cleveland. The farmer himself was
a man who appeared to do nothing, but his shrewd mind was always at work. In
the summer throughout the long sleepy afternoons, he drove about over the
county buying sheep and cattle, stopping to trade horses with some farmer,
dickering for new pieces of land, everlastingly busy. He had one passion. He
loved fast trotting horses, but would not humor himself by owning one. "It's a
game that only gets you into trouble and debt," he said to his friend John Clark,
the banker. "Let other men own the horses and go broke racing them. I'll go to
the races. Every fall I can go to Cleveland to the grand circuit. If I go crazy about
a horse I can bet ten dollars he'll win. If he doesn't I'm out ten dollars. If I owned
him I would maybe be out hundreds for the expense of training and all that." The
farmer was a tall man with a white beard, broad shoulders, and rather small
slender white hands. He chewed tobacco, but in spite of the habit kept both
himself and his white beard scrupulously clean. His wife had died while he was
yet in the full vigor of life, but he had no eye for women. His mind, he once told
one of his friends, was too much occupied with his own affairs and with thoughts
of the fine horses he had seen to concern itself with any such nonsense.
 
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