The two old maids wrung their hands with astonishment and only said “y!”
“Of course we’ll keep it,” said Trove, as he took the baby,
“I must hurry back,” said the girl, now turning with a look of relief.
Tunk shied off and began to build a fire; Miss S’mantha sat down weeping, the girl ran away in the darkness, and Trove put the baby in Miss Letitia’s arms.
“I’ll run over to Leblanc’s cabin,” said he, getting his cap and coat. “They’re having trouble over there.”
He left them and hurried off on his way to the little cabin.
Loud cries of the baby rang in that abode of silence. It began to kick and squirm with determined energy. Poor Miss Letitia had the very look of panic in her face. She clung to the fierce little creature, not knowing what to do. Miss S’mantha lay back in a fit of hysterics. Tunk advanced bravely, with brows knit, and stood looking down at the baby.
“Lord! this is awful!” said he. Then a thought struck him. “I’ll git some milk,” he shouted, running into the buttery.
The baby thrust the cup away, and it fell noisily, the milk streaming over a new rag carpet.
“It’s sick; I’m sure it’s sick,” said Miss Letitia, her voice trembling. “S’mantha, can’t you do something?”
Miss S’mantha calmed herself a little and drew near.
“Jes’ like a wil’cat,” said Tunk, thoughtfully. “Powerful, too,” he added, with an effort to control one of the kicking legs.
“What shall we do?” said Miss Letitia.
“My sister had a baby once,” said Tunk, approaching it doubtfully but with a studious look.
He made a few passes with his hand in front of the baby’s face. Then he gave it a little poke in the ribs, tentatively. The effect was like adding insult to injury.
“If ’twas mine,” said Tunk, “which I’m glad it ain’t—I’d rub a little o’ that hoss liniment on his stummick,”
The two old maids took the baby into their bedroom. It was an hour later when Trove came back. Tunk sat alone by the kitchen fire. There was yet a loud wail in the bedroom.
“What’s the news?” said Tunk, who met him at the door.
“Drunk, that’s all,” said Trove. “I took this bottle, sling-shot, and bar of iron away from him. The woman thought I had better bring them with me and put them out of his way.”
He laid them on the floor in a corner.
“I got him into bed,” he continued, “and then hid the axe and came away. I guess they’re all right now. When I left he had begun to snore.”
“Wal,—we ain’t all right,” said Tunk, pointing to the room. “If you can conquer that thing, you’ll do well. Poor Miss Teeshy!” he added, shaking his head.
“What’s the matter with her?” Trove inquired.
“Kicked in the stummick ’til she dunno where she is,” said Tunk, gloomily.
He pulled off his boots.