COLD as CLAY

A farmer had a daughter for whom he cared more than anything on earth. She fell in love with a farm hand named Jim, but the farmer did not think Jim was good enough for his daughter. To keep them apart, he sent her to live with her uncle on the other side of the county.

Soon after she left, Jim got sick, and he wasted away and died. Everyone said he had died of a broken heart. The farmer felt so guilty about Jim’s death, he could not tell his daughter what had happened. She continued to think about Jim and the life they might have had together.

One night many weeks later there was a knock on her uncle’s door. When the girl opened the door, Jim was standing there.

“Your father asked me to get you,” he said. “I came on his best horse.”

“Is there anything wrong?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

She packed a few things and they left. She rode behind him, clinging to his waist. Soon he complained of a headache. “It aches something terrible,” he told her.

She put her hand on his forehead. “Why your as cold as clay,” she said. “I hope you are not ill,” and she wrapped her handkerchief around his head.

They traveled so swiftly that in a few hours they reached the farm. The girl quickly dismounted and knocked on the door. Her farther was startled to see her.

“Didn’t you send for me?” she asked.

“No, I didn’t,” he said.

She turned to Jim, but he was gone and so was the horse. They went to the stable to look for them. The horse was there. It was covered in sweat and trembling with fear. But there was no sign of Jim.

Terrified, her father told her the truth about Jim’s death. Then quickly he went to see Jim’s parents. They decided to open his grave. The corpse was in its coffin. But around its head they found the girl’s handkerchief.

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