“Yes. Clever gals, too. Stirred things up some at Millville, I kin tell you, stranger. Lib’ral an’ good-natured, but able to hold their own with the natives. We missed ’em, last year; but t’other day I seen ol’ Hucks, that keeps their house for ’em—he ‘n’ his wife—an’ Hucks said they was cumin’ to spend this summer at the farm an’ he was lookin’ fer ’em any day. The way they togged up thet farmhouse is somethin’ won’erful, I’m told. Hain’t seen it, myself, but a whole carload o’ furnitoor—an’ then some more—was shipped here from New York, an’ Peggy McNutt, over t’ Millville, says it must ‘a’ cost a for-tun’.”
The tramp nodded, somewhat listlessly.
“I feel quite respectable this morning, having passed the night as the guest of a millionaire,” he observed. “Mr. Merrick didn’t know it, of course, or he would have invited me inside.”
“Like enough,” answered the agent seriously. “The nabob’s thet reckless an’ unaccountable, he’s likely to do worse ner that. That’s what makes him an’ his gals interestin’; nobody in quarries. How about breakfast, friend Judkins?”
“That’s my business an’ not yourn. My missus never feeds tramps.”
“Rather ungracious to travelers, eh?”
“Ef you’re a traveler, go to the hoe-tel yonder an’ buy your breakfas’ like a man.”
“Thank you; I may follow your advice.”
The agent walked up the track and put out the semaphore lights, for the sun was beginning to rise over the hills. By the time he came back a colored porter stood on the platform of the private car and nodded to him.
“Folks up yit?” asked Judkins.
“Goin’ ter feed ’em in there?”
“Not dis mohnin’. Dey’ll breakfas’ at de hotel. Carriage here yit?”
“Not yit. I s’pose ol’ Hucks’ll drive over for ’em,” said the agent.
“Dey’s ‘spectin’ some one, seh. As fer me, I gotta live heah all day, an’ it makes me sick teh think of it.”
“Heh!” retorted the agent, scornfully; “you won’t git sick. You’re too well paid fer that.”
The porter grinned, and just then a little old gentleman with a rosy, cheery face pushed him aside and trotted down the steps.
“Mornin’, Judkins!” he cried, and shook the agent’s hand. “What a glorious sunrise, and what crisp, delicious air! Ah, but it’s good to be in old Chazy County again!”
The agent straightened up, his face wreathed with smiles, and cast an “I told you so!” glance toward the man on the truck. But the stranger had disappeared.
THE INVASION OF MILLVILLE
Over the brow of the little hill appeared a three-seated wagon, drawn by a pair of handsome sorrels, and in a moment the equipage halted beside the sleeper.
“Oh, Thomas Hucks—you dear, dear Thomas!” cried a clear, eager voice, and out from the car rushed Miss Patricia Doyle, to throw her arms about the neck of the old, stoop-shouldered and white-haired driver, whose face was illumined by a joyous smile.