from Freeborn County Standard
An Arkansas Pastel
by Ellis Parker Butler
He sat on a backless wooden chair in front of his little cabin, idly cutting a "yaller" pine stick with his big jack-knife. The poorly cultivated corn was dry and yellow, but he had evidently not touched it. He was a characteristic specimen of the men of the section, tall, gaunt, ragged and yellow.
Eight or ten hounds lay around on the dusty soil near him.
I drew up my horse.
"Hello!" I said; "we need rain."
"Mebby," he said.
"You have a pretty good stand of corn there," I said.
"Yep," he said, languidly.
"About time you were getting it in, don't you think?" I asked.
"When do you think you will harvest it? You couldn't have better weather."
"Now, look here," I said. "You have a fair crop of corn there. Why don't you get to work and take it in; I suppose, like all the rest of you, you will let your wife do it?"
"Well, it is a wonder. And you don't know when you will go to work at it?"
"And you are not going to make your wife do it?"
"Well, I'm glad to hear that anyway. I never saw people who were as willing to let their wives do all the hard work as you men out here. You make their lives one long worry and sorrow --"
He got up and came over to the fence and leaned his arms on it. The eight or ten dogs followed him.
"Miss," he said, slowly, "yer mean all right. I calkerlate I know what yer drivin' at, an' I reckon I desarve it, but jest don't go on ter day. I feel kinder played out ter day."
He pointed to the cabin with his open knife. "Yer see," he said, "my old woman is in there, dead!"
When I looked back at the turn of the road he was sitting on the broken chair and one of the hounds had its head in his lap, and he had his face buried in the soft hide of the hound's neck.