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December 01 , 2009

Rayton: A Backwoods Mystery


THE GAME THAT WAS NOT FINISHED Samson's Mill Settlement had, for the past fifteen years, prided itself on its absolute respectability; and then came Reginald Baynes Rayton, with his unfailing good humor, his riding breeches, and constant "haw-haw"—and corrupted the community. So it happened that five representative men of the settlement, and Mr. Rayton, sat and played poker one October night in Rayton's snug living room. They had done it before—only last week, in fact—but the sense of guilty novelty had not yet worn off. Only Rayton and old Wigmore were absolutely at their ease. White beans had to do in the place of the usual chips. The standard of play was very moderate—a one-cent ante and a five-cent limit—but it seemed reckless to some of those representative citizens. "Jane questioned me pretty sharp, to-night," said Benjamin Samson, the owner of the mill that sawed lumber and ground buckwheat for the whole Beaver Brook valley; "but I give her a bagful of evasive answers. Yes, sir-ee! I guess she suspicioned something. She's been kinder expectin' me to fall from grace ever since she first married me." "Haw-haw!" brayed Mr. Rayton. "Mrs. Samson is a clever woman. She knows a bad egg, Benjamin, without having to break the shell." The others chuckled
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