So, slipping quietly out of the house, he went in quest of his servant, Bill, telling him to go after Fleetfoot, whom he was to put in the lower stable instead of the one where she was usually kept; “and then in the morning, long before the sun is up,” said he, “do you have her at the door for one of the young ladies to ride.”
“Yes, marster,” answered Bill, looking around for his old straw hat.
“Now, see how quick you can go,” John Jr. continued, adding as an incentive to haste, that if Bill would get the pony stabled before old Caesar, who had gone to Versailles, should return, he would give him ten cents.
Bill needed no other inducement than the promise of money, and without stopping to find his hat, he started off bare-headed, upon the run, returning in the course of an hour and claiming his reward, as Caesar had not yet got home.
“All right,” said John Jr., tossing him the silver. “And now remember to keep your tongue between your teeth.”
Bill had kept too many secrets for his young master to think of tattling about something which to him seemed of no consequence whatever, and he walked off, eying his dime, and wishing he could earn one so easily every day.
Meantime John Jr. sought out ’Lena, to whom he said, “And so you are going to ride to-morrow morning?”
“How did you know ?” she asked, and John, looking very wise, replied, that “little girls should not ask too many questions,” adding, that as he supposed she would of course want Fleetfoot, he had ordered Bill to have her at the door early in the morning.
“Much obliged,” answered ’Lena. “I was about giving it up when I heard the pony was in the Grattan woods, for Caesar is so cross I hated to ask him to go for her; but now I’ll say nothing to him about it.”
That night when Caesar was eating his supper in the kitchen, his mistress suddenly appeared, asking, “if he had received any orders to go for Fleetfoot.”
The old negro, who was naturally cross, began to scowl, “No, miss, and Lord knows I don’t want to tote clar off to the Grattan woods to-night.”
“You needn’t, either, and if any one tells you to go don’t you do it,” returned Mrs. Livingstone.
“Somebody’s playin’ possum, that’s sartin,” thought Bill, who was present, and began putting things together. “Somebody’s playin’ possum, but they don’t catch this child leakin’.”
“Have you told him?” whispered Carrie, meeting her mother in the hall.
Mrs. Livingstone nodded, adding in an undertone, that “she presumed the ride was given up, as Lena had said nothing to Caesar about the pony.”
With her mind thus at ease, Carrie returned to the parlor, where she commenced talking to Mrs. Graham of their projected visit to Woodlawn, dwelling upon it as if it had been a tour to Europe, and evidently exulting that ’Lena was to be left behind.