It was his mother’s voice, and Dab felt like “minding” very promptly that morning.
“Dabney, my boy, come here to the gate.”
“Ham Morris is having his house painted,” he remarked, as he walked towards his mother.
“Is he?” she said. “We’ll go and see about it.”
The gate between the two “side-yards” had been there from time immemorial, and-they walked right through. As they drew nearer the Morris house, however, Dabney discovered that carpenters as well as painters were plying their trade in and about the old homestead. There were window-sashes piled here, and blinds there; a new door or so, ready for use, a great stack of bundles of shingles, some barrels of lime, and a heap of sand. Whichever way Dab looked, there were visible signs of an approaching renovation.
“Going to fix it all over,” he remarked.
“Yes,” replied his mother: “it’ll be as good as new. It was well built, and will bear mending. I couldn’t say that of some of the shackling things they’ve been putting up around the village.”
When they entered the house it became more and more evident that the “shabby” days of the Morris mansion were numbered. There were men at work in almost every room.
Ham’s wedding-trip would surely give plenty of time, at that rate, for an immense amount of “mending;” and his house would be, as the widow had promised, “all ready for him on his return.”
There was nothing wonderful to Dabney in the idea of his mother going about and inspecting work, and finding fault, and giving directions. He had never seen her do any thing else, and he had the greatest confidence in her knowledge and ability. He noticed too, before they left the place, that the customary farm-work was going ahead with even more regularity and energy than if the owner himself had been present.
“Ham’s farm’ll look something like ours, one of these days,” he said, “if things go on at this rate.”
“I mean it shall,” replied his mother, a little sharply. “Now go and get out the ponies, and we’ll do the rest of our errands.”
Dab started for the barn at a half trot; for, if there was one thing he liked better than another, it was to have the reins in his hands and that pair of ponies before him. Time had been when Mrs. Kinzer did her own driving, and only permitted Dab to “hold the horses” while she made her calls, business or otherwise; but that day had been safely put away among Dab’s unpleasant memories for a good while.
It was but a few minutes before the neat buggy held the widow and her son, and the ponies were taking them briskly down the road towards the village.
It they had only known it, at that very moment Ham Morris and his blooming bride were setting out for a drive, at the fashionable watering-place where they had made their first stop in their wedding-tour.
“Ham,” said Miranda, “it seems to me as if we were a thousand miles from home.”