“Yes, and I told you it was me. Can you read, Jenny?”
“Why, what a question!”
“Because, if you can’t, it won’t do me any good to wear a label.”
“Dabney Kinzer!” exclaimed Jenny, “there’s an other thing you ought to get.”
“Some good manners,” said the little lady snappishly. “Think of your stopping me in the street to tell me I can’t read!”
“Then you mustn’t forget me so quick,” said Dab. “If you meet my old clothes anywhere you must call them Dick Lee. They’ve had a change of name.”
“So he’s in them, is he? I don’t doubt they look better than they ever did before.”
Jenny walked away at once, at the end of that remark, holding her head pretty high, and leaving her old playmate feeling as if he had had a little the worst of it. That was often the way with people who stopped to talk with Jenny Walters, and she was not as much of a favorite as she otherwise might have been.
Dabney looked after her with his mouth puckered into shape for a whistle; but she had hardly disappeared before he found himself confronted by the strange young gentleman.
“Is your name Dabney Kinzer?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“Well, I’m Mr. Ford Foster, from New York.”
“Come over here to buy goods?” suggested Dabney. “Or to get something to eat?”
Ford Foster was apparently of about Dab’s age, but a full head less in height, so that there was more point in the question than there seemed to be; but he treated it as not worthy of notice, and asked,—
“Do you know of a house to let anywhere about here?”
“House to let?” suddenly exclaimed the voice of Mrs. Kinzer, behind him, much to Dab’s surprise. “Are you asking about a house? Whom for?”
Ford Foster had been quite ready to “chaff” Dick Lee, and he would not have hesitated about trying a like experiment upon Mr. Dabney Kinzer; but he knew enough to speak respectfully to the portly and business-like lady before him now.
“Yes, madam,” he said, with a ceremonious bow: “I wish to report to my father that I have found an acceptable house in this vicinity.”
Mrs. Kinzer was reading the young gentleman through and through, as she spoke; but she followed her exclamation with a dozen questions, all of which he answered with a good deal of clearness and intelligence. She wound up at last, with,—
“Go right home, then, and tell your father the only good house to let in this neighborhood will be ready for him next week. I’ll show it to him when he comes, but he’d better see me at once. Dabney, jump into the buggy. I’m in a hurry.”
The ponies were in motion, up the street, before Ford Foster quite recovered from the shock of being told to “go right home.”
“A very remarkable woman,” he muttered, as he turned away, “and she did not tell me a word about the house, after all. I must make some more inquiries. The boy is actually well dressed, for a place like this.”