“You handed us a surprise, all right; didn’t she, Uncle Peter?” I chirped in with a view to laughing off the whole affair, but just then a series of startling shrieks caused us all to rush for the piazza.
At the gate we beheld a kicking, struggling mass of lingerie and bad dialect, which presently resolved itself into the forms of my temporary relatives who were now busily engaged in macadamizing the roadway with their heads.
Then Tacks came yelling on the scene: “I thought maybe they was female burglars so I stretched a wire acrost the gate and they was in such a hurry getting away that they never noticed it till it was too everlastingly late!”
Before we could remonstrate with the Boy-Disaster he let another whoop out of him and darted off in the direction of the barn.
That whoop brought the two wire-tappers to their feet and after they both shook their fists eagerly in our direction they started in frenzied haste for the depot.
As they scurried frantically out of our neighborhood Uncle Peter smiled blandly and murmured, “For lecturers, female reformers and all those who lead a sedentary life there’s nothing like exercise!”
Putting my arm around Clara J.’s waist I whispered, “Didn’t I tell you it was one of Bunch’s put-up jobs? He’s jealous because I’m so happy out here with you, that’s all! As for the telegram, forget it!”
“All right, John,” said Clara J., “but nevertheless that same telegram gave you a busy day, didn’t it?”
“It surely did, but it was only because I hated to have you worried,” I answered as she went in the house to console Aunt Martha.
I sat down in a chair expecting every moment to have the Prince of Liars come up and congratulate me.
Humming a tune quietly to himself Uncle Peter watched the flying squadron disappear in a bend of the road, then he sat down near me and said, “John, you’re worried about something and I’ve a pretty fair idea what it is. This property is too big a load for you to carry, eh?”
From the depths of my heart I replied, “It certainly is!”
“Well,” said the old gentleman, “it surely has made a hit with me. I never struck a place I liked half as well as this. How would you like to sell it to me, then you and Clara J. could live with us, eh? Come on, now, what d’ye say?”
I sat there utterly unable to say anything.
“What did it cost you; come on, now, John?” the old fellow urged.
“Oh, about $14,000,” I whispered, picking out the first figure I could think of.
“It’s worth it and more, too,” he said. “I’ll give you $20,000 for it—say the word!”
“Well, if you insist!” I replied, weakly; and the next minute he danced off to write me a check.
In the tar barrel every time I opened my mouth! Hard luck was certainly putting the wrapping paper all over me.
Well, the only thing to do now was to hustle up to town in the morning and inform Bunch that I had sold his property.