“Seventy-five cents,” a deep voice murmured.
“Got your money with you, Watson?” the auctioneer inquired bitingly. “I am ashamed of this offer, folks, but nevertheless, I am offered seventy-five cents—seventy-five cents, for this fine old instrument. Now who’ll—”
The melodeon climbed to two dollars, with comparative rapidity. The bidders were principally men, whose wives, had they been present, would probably have discouraged the bidding, on the score that it was impossible to have that thing in the house, when Jenny’s had veneer candle-stands and plush pedals. Felicia was just beginning to wonder whether entering into the ring would push the melodeon too high, and the auctioneer was impatiently tapping his heel on the soap-box platform, when a clear and deliberate voice remarked:
“Two dollars and ten cents.”
Several heads were turned to see the speaker, and women peeped over their husbands’ shoulders to look. They saw a child in green knickerbockers and a gray jersey, his hand in that of a surprised young girl, and his determined face and oddly tranquil eyes turned purposefully to the auctioneer.
“Make it a quarter,” said a man lounging against the leader-pipe.
“Two and a quarter,” said the auctioneer. “I’m bid two dollars and a quarter for the organ.”
“Two dollars and fifty cents,” said the young bidder, a shade of excitement now betraying itself in his voice. The girl opened her mouth, perhaps to protest, and then closed it again. “Two-fifty!” bawled the auctioneer. “Two-fifty? Going—any more? Going—going—” he brought his big hands together with a slap, “Gone! at two dollars and fifty cents, to—who’s the party, Ben?”
Ben, harassed, pencil in mouth, professed ignorance.
“Kirkleigh Sturgis,” said the owner of the musical instrument, “Winterbottom Road.”
“Mister Sturgis,” said the auctioneer, while Ben scribbled. “Step right up, young man. Give Ben your money and put your pianner in your pocket. Now folks, the next article—”
Kirk and Felicia, not to speak of the organ, two chairs, a wash-basin, a frying-pan, two boxes of candles, a good mop, and a pot of soft soap, were all carted home by the invaluable Hop. They met Ken, in from his second trip, in the middle of Winterbottom Hill, and they gave him a lift.
“Oh, if you knew what you’re sitting on!” Phil chuckled.
“Good heavens! Will it go off?” cried Ken, squirming around to look down at his seat. “I thought it was a chest, or something.”
“It’s—a melodeon!” Phil said weakly.
“A melodeon! Oh, ye gods and little fishes!” shouted Ken. “Oh, my prophetic soul!” and he laughed all the way to Applegate Farm.