Kirk, to whom the Maestro’s word was law, delivered his message very solemnly to Ken, who laughed.
“Not much fear of my cultivating too strong an affection for Mud Ocean, as navigated by the Dutchman. If I had a chance to see real water and real ships, it might be different.”
“But how horrid of his son never to let him know—poor old gentleman!” said Felicia, who was putting on her hat at the window.
“Probably the old gentleman was so angry with him in the beginning that he didn’t dare to, and now he thinks he’s dead,” Ken said.
“Who thinks who’s dead?” Phil asked. “You’d never make a rhetorician.”
“I should hope not!” said her brother. “Why, the sailor thinks his father’s dead. Get your hat, Kirk.”
“We’re going to an auction,” Felicia explained.
“A ’vandew’,” Ken corrected. “You and Phil are, that is, to buy shoes and ships and sealing-wax, and a chair for my room that won’t fall down when I sit in it, and crockery ware—and I guarantee you’ll come home with a parlor organ and a wax fruit-piece under a glass case.”
Phil scoffed and reproved him, and he departed, whistling “Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep,” lugubriously. His brother and sister caught up with him, and they all walked together toward Asquam, Ken bound for his boat, and the others for the “vendu,” which was held at an old farm-house where Winterbottom Road joined Pickery Lane.
Many ramshackle old wagons were already drawn up in the barn-yard and hitched to trees along the cart track. Their owners were grouped in the dooryard around the stoves and tables and boxes of “articles too numerous to mention,” chattering over the merits and flaws of mattresses and lamps, and sitting in the chairs to find out whether or not they were comfortable. A bent old farmer with a chin-beard, stood chuckling over an ancient cradle that leaned against a wash-tub.
“There’s one most ’s old ’s I be!” he said, addressing the world at large; “fust thing I ’member, I crawled outen one like thet!”
The auctioneer was selling farm tools and stock at the other side of the house, and most of the men-folks were congregated there—tall, solemn people, still wearing winter mufflers—soberly chewing tobacco and comparing notes on the tools. Felicia and Kirk, though they would have liked well enough to own the old white horse and the Jersey heifers, felt themselves unable to afford live stock, and stayed in the dooryard. Among the furniture so mercilessly dragged from its familiar surroundings to stand on the trampled grass, was a little, square, weathered thing, which Felicia at first failed to recognize as the inevitable melodeon. It lacked all the plush and gewgaws of the parlor organ of commerce; such a modest, tiny gray box might easily have passed for a kitchen chest.