A few days later their agent again, a little frigid, very urgent—this time to buy me out on my own terms, any terms. But what was back of all this I inquired. I did not know these people, had never done them a favor. Why, then, such determination to have me removed? Why such bitterness, vindictiveness, ungovernable passion?
That was the point, he replied. This family had never wronged me. I had never even seen them. Yet they had heard of nothing but my intense dislike of them and opposition to their becoming my neighbors. They could not forego their plans, but they were quite willing to give me the chance of leaving their vicinity, on whatever I might regard the most advantageous terms.
Oh, my mocking-bird, my mocking-bird! When you have been sitting on other front porches, have you, by the divine law of your being, been reproducing your notes as though they were mine, and even pouring forth the little twitter that was meant for your private ear?
As March goes out, two things more and more I hear—the cardinal has begun to mount to the bare tops of the locust-trees and scatter his notes downward, and over the way the workmen whistle and sing. The bird is too shy to sit in any tree on that side of the yard. But his eye and ear are studying them curiously. Sometimes I even fancy that he sings to them with a plaintive sort of joy, as though he were saying, “Welcome—go away!”
The Cobbs will be the death of me before they get here. The report spread that they and I had already had a tremendous quarrel, and that, rather than live beside them, I had sold them my place. This set flowing towards me for days a stream of people, like a line of ants passing to and from the scene of a terrific false alarm. I had nothing to do but sit perfectly still and let each ant, as it ran up, touch me with its antennae, get the counter-sign, and turn back to the village ant-hill. Not all, however. Some remained to hear me abuse the Cobbs; or, counting on my support, fell to abusing the Cobbs themselves. When I made not a word of reply, except to assure them that I really had not quarrelled with the Cobbs, had nothing against the Cobbs, and was immensely delighted that the Cobbs were coming, they went away amazingly cool and indignant. And for days I continued to hear such things attributed to me that, had that young West-Pointer been in the neighborhood, and known how to shoot, he must infallibly have blown my head off me, as any Kentucky gentleman would. Others of my visitors, having heard that I was not to sell my place, were so glad of it that they walked around my garden and inquired for my health and the prospect for fruit. For the season has come when the highest animal begins to pay me some attention. During the winter, having little to contribute to the community, I drop from communal