“Thank you, Nephew,” said he, in a deep voice. “You’re a good lad. You won’t regret your bargain. I promise you that.”
He turned to Emma Campbell:
“If my breakfast is ready, I’m ready too, Emma.” And to Peter: “We were renewing our old acquaintance, Emma and I, while you were out, Nephew. She hasn’t changed much: she’s still the biggest nigger and the best cook and the faithfulest friend in all Carolina.”
“Oh, go ‘long, Mist’ Chad! Who you ’speck ought to look after Miss Maria’s chile, ‘ceptin’ ole Emma Campbell? Lawd ‘a’ mussy, ain’t I wiped ’is nose en dusted ’is britches sense he bawn? Dat Peter, he belonged to Miss Maria en me. He’s we chile,” said Emma Campbell.
Over his coffee Mr. Champneys outlined his plans carefully and succinctly. Peter was to hold himself in readiness to proceed whither his uncle would direct him by wire. In the meantime he was to settle his affairs in Riverton.
“Uncle Chad,” said Peter, to whom the thought had just occurred, “Uncle Chad, now that I have agreed to do what you wish me to do, what is the young lady’s name? You didn’t tell me.”
“Her name? Why, God bless my soul, I forgot, I forgot! Well! Her name’s Anne Simms. Called Nancy. Soon be Nancy Champneys, thank Heaven!” And he repeated: “Nancy Champneys! Anne Champneys!”
“Uncle,” said Peter, deprecatingly, “you’ll understand—I’m a little interested—excuse me for asking you—but what does the young lady look like?”
Mr. Chadwick Champneys blinked at his nephew.
“Look like? You want to know what Milly’s niece looks like?”
“Yes, sir,” said Peter, modestly. “I—er—that is, the thought occurred to me to ask you what she looks like.”
Mr. Champneys scratched the end of his nose, pulled his mustache, and looked unhappy.
“Nephew Peter,” said he, “do what I do: take it for granted Milly’s niece looks like any other girl—nose and mouth and hair and eyes, you know. But I can’t describe her to you in detail.”
“No? Why?” Peter wondered.
“Because I have never laid eyes on her,” said his uncle.
“Oh!” Peter looked thunderstruck.
“I came to you first,” explained his uncle. “I gave you first whack. Now I’m going to see her.”
“Oh!” said Peter, still more thunderstruck.
“I’ll wire you when you’re to come,” said his uncle, briskly, and got into dust-coat, cap, and goggles. A few minutes later, before the little town was well awake, he vanished in a cloud of dust down the Riverton Road.
WHERE THE ROAD DIVIDED