“And Almira’s a sweet young lady,” added Fuz, “only she’s a little timid about boys.”
“Needn’t be afraid of us, I guess,” said Ford Foster, with a benevolent and protecting expression on his face; while Dab drew a mental picture of the fair Almira as a sort of up-country copy of Annie Foster. After the darkness came, and the “sleeper” was turned into a great travelling-box full of little shaky bedrooms, there was no more talking to be done, and all the boys were tired enough to go to sleep.
One consequence of their beginning their slumbers so early, however, was, that they felt bright and fresh when the porter aroused them before daylight next morning; and they hurriedly dressed themselves for their ride on what Ford Foster called “the switch.”
It was quite a respectable railway, however, and it carried them through scenery so different from any that Dabney or Dick was accustomed to, that they lost a good deal of what Joe and Fuz were saying about Dr. Abiram Brandegee, the learned principal of Grantley Academy. It was of less importance, perhaps, because they had heard it all before, and had gathered a curious collection of ideas concerning the man under whose direction they were to get their new stocks of learning.
“Dab,” said Dick, “if it was any fellers but them said it, I’d want to go home.”
“Well, yes,” said Dab quietly; “but then, that’s just it. You can’t guess when they’re telling the truth, and when they ain’t.”
“Is dar really any fun in lyin’, do you s’pose, Dab?”
“Can’t say, Dick. Guess there wouldn’t be much for you or me.”
“Dar’s lots ob fun in Ford; an’ he tells de truth mos’ all de time, stiddy. So does Frank, jes’ a little bit stiddier.”
“Ford never lies, Dick.”
“No, sir, he don’t. But w’en anoder feller’s lyin’, he kin make believe he don’t know it bes’ of any feller I ebber seen.”
“Dick,” exclaimed Dabney, “what if Dr. Brandegee had heard you say that!”
“I would tell him I was imitating somebody I had heard,” solemnly responded Dick, with fair correctness.
The ride began in the dark hour that comes before the dawn, and the train ran fast. The sun was above the horizon, but had not yet peered over the high hills around Grantley, when the excited schoolboys were landed at the little station in the outskirts of the village. It was on a hillside; and they could almost look down upon a large part of the scene of their “good time coming,”—or their “bad time,” a good deal as they themselves might make it.
Dab and his friends saw that valley and village often enough afterwards; but never again did it wear to them precisely the same look it put on that morning, in the growing light of that noble September day. As for Joe and Fuz, it was all an old story to them; and, what was more, they had another first-rate joke on hand.
“There’s the academy,” said Joe: “that big white concern in the middle of the green, and with so short a steeple.”