Uncle Isham, Letty, and the boy Plez, were very much surprised at the arrival of the lady in the carriage. She had asked for the mistress of the house, and on being assured that she was expected to return very soon, had alighted, paid and dismissed her driver, and had taken a seat in the parlor. Her valise, rather larger than that of the previous visitor, was brought in and put in the hall. She waited for an hour or two, during which time Letty made several attempts to account for the non-appearance of her mistress, who, she said, was away on a visit, but was expected back every minute; and when supper was ready she partook of that meal alone, and after a short evening spent in reading she went to bed in the chamber which Letty prepared for her.
Before she retired, Letty, who had shown herself a very capable attendant, said to her: “Wot’s your name, miss? I allus likes to know the names o’ ladies I waits on.’’
“My name,” said the lady, “is Mrs Null.”
The Autumn sun was shining very pleasantly when, about nine o’clock in the morning, Mrs Null came out on the porch, and, standing at the top of the steps, looked about her. She had on her hat with the red flowers, and she wore a short jacket, into the pockets of which her hands were thrust with an air which indicated satisfaction with the circumstances surrounding her. The old dog, lying on the grass at the bottom of the steps, looked up at her and flopped his tail upon the ground. Mrs Null called to him in a cheerful tone and the dog arose, and, hesitatingly, put his forefeet on the bottom step; then, when she held out her hand and spoke to him again, he determined that, come what might, he would go up those forbidden steps, and let her pat his head. This he did, and after looking about him to assure himself that this was reality and not a dog dream, he lay down upon the door-mat, and, with a sigh of relief, composed himself to sleep. A black turkey gobbler, who looked as if he had been charred in a fire, followed by five turkey hens, also suggesting the idea that water had been thrown over them before anything but their surfaces had been burned, came timidly around the house and stopped before venturing upon the greensward in front of the porch; then, seeing nobody but Mrs Null, they advanced with bobbing heads and swaying bodies to look into the resources of this seldom explored region. Plez, who was coming from the spring with a pail of water on his head, saw the dog on the porch and the turkeys on the grass, and stopped to regard the spectacle. He looked at them, and he looked at Mrs Null, and a grin of amused interest spread itself over his face.
Mrs Null went down the steps and approached the boy. “Plez,” said she, “if your mistress, or anybody, should come here this morning, you must run over to Pine Top Hill and call me. I’m going there to read.”
“Don’ you want me to go wid yer, and show you de way, Miss Null?” asked Plez, preparing to set down his pail.