That room had been Samantha’s choice, and she looked at Dab reproachfully; but Miranda replied,—
“No, indeed. Not if you wish him to have it.”
“Now, Ham,” said Dabney, “I’m not big enough to fit that room. Give me one nearer my size. That’s a little loose for even Sam, and she can’t take any tucks in it.”
Samantha’s look changed to one of gratitude, and she did not notice the detested nickname.
“Well, then,” said Ham, “we’ll see about it. You can sleep in the spare chamber to-night.—Mother Kinzer, I couldn’t say enough about this house business if I talked all night. It must have cost you a deal of money. I couldn’t have dared to ask it. I guess you must kiss me again.”
A curious thing it was that came next,—one that nobody could have reckoned on. Mrs. Kinzer—good soul—had set her heart on having Ham and Miranda’s house “ready for them” on their return; and now Ham seemed to be so pleased about it, she actually began to cry. She said, too,—
“I’m so sorry about the barn!”
Ham only laughed, in his quiet way, as he kissed his portly mother-in-law, and said,—
“Come, come, mother Kinzer, you didn’t set it afire. Can’t Miranda and I have some supper? Dab must be hungry, too, after all that roof-sweeping.”
There had been a sharp strain on the nerves of all of them that day and evening; and they were glad enough to gather around the tea-table, while all that was now left of the old barn smouldered peaceably away with half the boys in the village on guard.
Once or twice Ham or Dab went out to see that all was dying out rightly; but it was plain that all the danger was over, unless a high wind should come to scatter the cinders.
By this time the whole village had heard of Dab’s adventure with the tramp, and had at once connected the latter with the fire. There were those, indeed, who expressed a savage wish to connect him with it bodily; and it was well for him that he had done his running away promptly, and had hidden himself with care, for men were out after him in all directions, on foot and on horseback. Who would have dreamed of so dirty a vagabond “taking to the water”?
“He’s a splendid fellow, anyway!”
Odd, was it not? but Annie Foster and Jenny Walters were half a mile apart when they both said that very thing, just before the clock in the village church hammered out the news that it was ten, and bedtime. They were not either of them speaking of the tramp.
It was long after that, however, before the lights were out in all the rooms of the Morris mansion.
DAB HAS A WAKING DREAM, AND HAM GETS A SNIFF OF SEA-AIR.
Sleep? One of the most excellent things in all the world, and very few people get too much of it nowadays.