If you had seen little Jo are on the street corner in the rain, you would hardly admired him. It was apparently an ordinary autumn rainstorm, but the water that fell upon Jo (who was barely old enough to either just or unjust, and therefore perhaps not under the law of impartial distribution) showed a characteristic peculiar to itself to have: one would have said that it was dark and adhesive - sticky. But that could hardly be, even in Blacksburg, where things happen that were certainly a good deal of the common.
Example, ten or twelve years earlier, a shower of small frogs had fallen, as is credibly attested by a contemporaneous chronicle, the record ends with a somewhat obscure statement to the effect that the chronicler considered it good growing weather for Frenchmen.
A few years later, Blacksburg had a fall of snow Crimson, it is cold in Blacksburg when the winter and the snow are frequent and deep. There can be no doubt about it - the snow in this case, the color of blood and melted into the water of the same hue, as there was water, not blood. The phenomenon had attracted wide attention, and the science had explained there were many scientists who knew nothing about. But the men in Blacksburg - men who for many years where the red snow was lived, and is believed to be a good deal about the matter knows - shake their heads and said something would come of it.
And something did, for the next summer was made memorable by the prevalence of a mysterious disease - epidemic, endemic, or Lord knows, not even the doctors - who led away a full half of the population. Most of the other half carried themselves away and were slow to return, but eventually came back and were now increasing and multiplying as before, but had not quite the same since Blacksburg.
Of a different kind, but just 'out of the common "was the incident of Hetty Parlow's ghost. Hetty Parlow's maiden name was Brownon, in Blacksburg, and that meant more than one might think.
The Brownons had since time immemorial - the first of the old colonial days - is the leading family in town. It was the richest and it was the best, and Blacksburg would have shed the last drop of its plebeian blood in the defense of fair Brownon fame. So few of the members of the family had ever been known to permanently away from Blacksburg life, although most of them were educated elsewhere and nearly all had passed, there was a fair number of them. The men held the majority of public offices, and the women were mostly all good works. Of these latter, Hetty was most loved for the sweetness of her character, the purity of her character and her unique personal beauty. She married in Boston a young rascal named Parlow, and like a good Brownon brought him to Blacksburg and immediately made a man and a councilor of his. They had one child that they named Joseph and loved, as was the fashion among parents in all that region. Then they deceased to the mysterious disorder already mentioned, and at the age of one whole year Joseph set up as an orphan.
Unfortunately for Joseph the disease which had cut off his parents to stop that, it went on and destroyed almost the entire Brownon contingent and its allies by marriage, and those who escaped did not return. The tradition was broken, the Brownon estates passed into foreign hands, and the only remaining Brownons in that place were underground in Oak Hill Cemetery, where, indeed, was a colony of them powerful enough to resist the encroachment of surrounding tribes and hold best part of the site. But the ghost:
One night, about three years after the death of Hetty Parlow, a number of young people of Blacksburg were passing Oak Hill Cemetery in a wagon - if you have been there you will remember that the road to Greenton runs along the south. They were attending a May Day festival in Greenton, which serves to fix the date. In total there are perhaps a dozen, and a merry party they were given the legacy of gloom left by the last of the city somber experience. As she passed the cemetery the man driving suddenly took his team to an exclamation of surprise. It was surprising enough, no doubt, for just ahead, and almost along the road, but within the cemetery, stood the ghost of Hetty Parlow. There was no doubt about it, because she was personally known to every youth and maiden in the party. The thing defined identity, its character as a ghost was indicated by all the usual characters - the shroud, the long, undone hair, the "far away look" - everything. These disturbing appearance was stretching his arms out to the west, and in supplication for the evening, certainly, was an alluring object, though obviously out of reach. While they all sat silent (so the story goes) every member of that party goers - they had made merry on coffee and soft drinks only - clearly heard that the spirit of the name calling "Joey, Joey!" A moment later there was nothing. Of course one does not believe all that.
Now, at that moment, was later determined, was Joey roam the sagebrush on the opposite side of the continent, near Winnemucca, Nevada in the state. He had taken the city by several good people distantly related to his deceased father, and by them adopted and tenderly cared for. But that evening the poor child had strayed from home and was lost in the desert.
His after history is involved in the dark and can fill gaps that suspicion alone. It is known that he was found by a family of Piute Indians, who kept the little wretch with them for a time and then sold him - actually sold him for money to a woman on one of the east-bound trains at a station a long way from Winnemucca. The woman claimed to have made all sorts of investigations, but all in vain: yes, and a childless widow, she has himself. At this point in his career Jo seemed to get a long way from the condition of orphanage, the intervention of a multitude of parents between himself and the sad state promised him a long immunity against the disadvantages.
Mrs. Darnell, his newest mother lived in Cleveland, Ohio. But her adopted son did not stay long with her. He was seen one afternoon by a policeman, new to that beat, deliberately toddling away from her house and questioned replied that he was 'a doin' home. "He must have traveled by rail, somehow, for three days later he was in the town of Whiteville, which, as you know, a long way from Black Burg. His clothing was in pretty good condition, but he was dirty sinful. Unable to an account of himself that he was arrested as a vagrant and sentenced to imprisonment in the infants' home to give relief - he was washed.
Jo walked away from the infants' Sheltering Home at Whiteville - just took to the woods one day, and the Home knew him no more forever.
You can find him, or rather back to him, standing left in the cold autumn rain on a suburban street in Blacksburg, and it seems right to explain now that the raindrops falling on him were not really dark and sticky, they just do not on his face and hands make less. Jo was indeed fearful and wonderfully besmirched, as by the hand of an artist. And leaving Little Tramp had no shoes, his feet were bare, red and swollen, and when he walked he limped with both legs. With respect to clothing - ah, you would hardly have the ability to name a single garment he wore, or say by what magic he kept it on him. That he was cold all over and not to admit of a doubt, he knew himself. Everyone would have been cold that night, but for that reason, otherwise there was none. How Jo came to himself, he could not for the flickering of life have told him, even if gifted with a vocabulary of more than one hundred words. From the way he stared about him one could have seen that he had not the faintest notion of where (nor why) he was.
Yet he was not completely crazy in his time and generation, cold and hungry, and still able to walk a little by bending his knees very warm and his feet down toes first, he decided to become one of to enter the houses that lined the street with long intervals and looked so bright and warm. But when he tried to respond to that very wise decision a burly dog came from browsing and controversial law. Unspeakably afraid, and believe without doubt (with some reason), without brutality meant beast within, he hobbled away from the houses, and gray, wet fields to his right and gray, wet fields to his left - the rain half blinding him and the night come in mist and darkness, his way along the road leading to Greenton held. That is, the road leads designed Greenton who succeed in passing the Oak Hill Cemetery. A significant number per year.
They found him there the next morning, very wet, very cold, but not hungry anymore. He was apparently the cemetery closed gate - hoping, perhaps, that it led to a house where there was no dog - and went on blundering in darkness, which for many a grave, no doubt, until he had enough of and all specified. The small body lay on one side with a dirty cheek on a dirty side, the other tucked under the rags to warm, the other cheek washed and white finally, as for a kiss from one of the great angels of God . It was observed - though nothing was thought at the time, when the body is still unidentified - that the little boy lay on the grave of Hetty Parlow. The tomb was not opened to receive him. This is a circumstance which, without actual irreverence, one may want a different way had been ordered.