Devil#039;s pursuit ends

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2001

Little Dan took his time walking the three miles to school that morning.

But getting home that afternoon, when school was out, he must have set some kind of world record in covering the three-mile course on foot.

You see, the action took place in the late 1890's long before they had school buses to transport the younguns.

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What happened to Dan that day was that he started back home at a leisurely pace when he became frightened by a noise in the nearby woods.

Thinking he heard a bear or some other ogre-type beast bearing down on him, he broke into a trot.

As he jogged for a second or two, he kept hearing this jangling right behind him.

He quickened his pace, and the jangling quickened its frequency and proximity in like manner.

Thus, the fright transposed itself into alarm and in turn the alarm became naked fear.

His feet scarcely touched the ground from that point onward as he fairly skimmed over the landscape hurtling fences, ditches and all manner of impediments that intervened. The jangling persisted.

What went through Dan's mind during the last part of that mad-dash homeward?

In later years, when Dan related the story of his head-long race toward sanctuary, he said he was thinking only the worst, that the devil was surely chasing him and his doomsday was at-hand and he was only 12 years old.

Finally, exhausted, he reached the haven of home and family.

The jangling stopped the moment he fell into his mother's arms.

Later, when he changed clothes, something tinkled on the floor when he removed his trousers.

He looked down and discovered a handful of nails had fallen from one of the rear pockets.

A light came on-his devil was only a bunch of jangling nails he had left over from a repair job he had done on the farm the day before.

Folks often think they have little devils in hot pursuit of them, whereas in reality they are jumping at shadows.

Such is the needless fear extant concerning the economy at home and abroad.