Returning Good for Evil
Obadiah Lawson and Watt Dood were neighbors; that is, they lived within a half mile of each other, and no person lived between their respective farms, which would have joined, had not a little strip of prairie land extended itself sufficiently to keep them separated. Dood was the oldest settler, and from his youth up had entertained a singular hatred against Quakers; therefore, when he was informed that Lawson, a regular disciple of that class of people had purchased the next farm to his, he declared he would make him glad to move away again. Accordingly, a system of petty annoyances was commenced by him, and every time one of Lawson's hogs chanced to stray upon Dood's place, it was beset by men and dogs, and most savagely abused.
Things progressed thus for nearly a year, and the Quaker, a man of decidedly peace principles, appeared in no way to resent the injuries received at the hands of his spiteful neighbor. But matters were drawing to a crisis; for Dood, more enraged than ever at the quiet of Obadiah, made oath that he would do something before long to wake up the spunk of Lawson. Chance favored his design. The Quaker had a high-blooded filly, which he had been very careful in raising, and which was just four years old. Lawson took great pride in this animal, and had refused a large sum of money for her.
One evening, a little after sunset, as Watt Dood was passing around his cornfield, he discovered the filly feeding in the little strip of prairie land that separated the two farms, and he conceived the hellish design of throwing off two or three rails of his fence, that the horse might get into his corn during the night. He did so, and the next morning, bright and early, he shouldered his rifle and left the house. Not long after his absence, a hired man, whom he had recently employed, heard the echo of his gun, and in a few minutes Dood, considerably excited and out of breath, came hurrying to the house, where he stated that he had shot at and wounded a buck; that the deer attacked him, and he hardly escaped with his life.
This story was credited by all but the newly employed hand, who had taken a dislike to Watt, and, from his manner, suspected that something was wrong. He therefore slipped quietly away from the house, and going through the field in the direction of the shot, he suddenly came upon Lawson's filly, stretched upon the earth, with a bullet hole through the head, from which the warm blood was still oozing.
The animal was warm, and could not have been killed an hour. He hastened back to the dwelling of Dood, who met him in the yard, and demanded, somewhat roughly, where he had been.
"I've been to see if your bullet made sure work of Mr. Lawson's filly," was the instant retort.
Watt paled for a moment, but collecting himself, he fiercely shouted,
"Do you dare to say I killed her?"
"How do you know she is dead?" replied the man.
Dood bit his lip, hesitated a moment, and then turning, walked into the house.
A couple of days passed by, and the morning of the third one had broken, as the hired man met friend Lawson, riding in search of his filly.
A few words of explanation ensued, when, with a heavy heart, the Quaker turned his horse and rode home, where he informed the people of the fate of his filly. No threat of recrimination escaped him; he did not even go to law to recover damages; but calmly awaited his plan and hour of revenge. It came at last.
Watt Dood had a Durham heifer, for which he had paid a heavy price, and upon which he counted to make great gains.
One morning, just as Obadiah was sitting down, his eldest son came in with the information that neighbor Dood's heifer had broken down the fence, entered the yard, and after eating most of the cabbages, had trampled the well-made beds and the vegetables they contained, out of all shape — a mischief impossible to repair.
"And what did you do with her, Jacob?" quietly asked Obadiah.
"I put her in the farm-yard."
"Did you beat her?"
"I never struck her a blow."
"Right, Jacob, right; sit down to your breakfast, and when done eating, I will attend to the heifer."
Shortly after he had finished his repast, Lawson mounted a horse, and rode over to Dood's, who was sitting under the porch in front of his house, and who, as he beheld the Quaker dismount, supposed he was coming to demand pay for his filly, and secretly swore he would have to go to law for it if he did.
"Good morning, neighbor Dood; how is your family?" exclaimed Obadiah, as he mounted the steps and seated himself in a chair.
"All well, I believe," was the crusty reply.
"I have a small affair to settle with you this morning, and I came rather early."
"So I suppose," growled Watt.
"This morning, my son found your Durham heifer in my garden, where she has destroyed a good deal."
"And what did he do with her?" demanded Dood, his brow darkening.
"What would you have done with her, had she been my heifer in your garden?" asked Obadiah.
"I'd a shot her!" retorted Watt, madly, "as I suppose you have done; but we are only even now. Heifer for filly is only 'tit for tat.'"
"Neighbor Dood, you don't know me, if you think I would harm a hair of your heifer's back. She is in my farm-yard, and not even a blow has been struck her, where you can get her at any time. I know you shot my filly; but the evil one prompted you to do it, and I lay no evil in my heart against my neighbors. I came to tell you where your heifer is, and now I'll go home."
Obadiah rose from his chair, and was about to descend the steps, when he was stopped by Watt, who hastily asked,
"What was your filly worth?"
"A hundred dollars is what I asked for her," replied Obadiah.
"Wait a moment!" and Dood rushed into the house, from whence he soon returned, holding some gold in his hand. "Here's the price of your filly; and hereafter let there be a pleasantness between us."
"Willingly, heartily," answered Lawson, grasping the offered hand of the other; "let there be peace between us."
Obadiah mounted his horse, and rode home with a lighter heart, and from that day to this, Dood has been as good a neighbor as one could wish to have; being completely reformed by the returning good for evil.