Time passed while they sat there in Thad’s room and talked. Hugh was compelled to relate every little incident over again, and amidst all sorts of comments on the part of the other. Finally Hugh said it was now a quarter to ten, and that they might as well be starting out, which they proceeded to do most eagerly indeed.
WHEN THE WIZARD WAVED HIS WAND
“Don’t forget for a minute,” cautioned Hugh, as they started on their way toward the humble cottage home of Matilda and her husband, “that Brother Lu asked us to act quite natural when we came along.”
“I’m on,” responded Thad, though it was only with the greatest difficulty that he seemed able to repress the glow in his eyes that told of secret joy. “He means by that, you are to ask Matilda whether she’s ready for another batch of sewing stuff that both of our mothers have ready, which I happen to know is the case. And then I suppose Brother Lu will ask us to join them on their little holiday outing, since he’s made himself master of ceremonies for today. Say, will a hungry fish snap at an angleworm when it’s dangled just in front of its nose? Well, we’ll thank Brother Lu for being so kind, and as we have nothing else to do we’ll accept with celerity, eh, Hugh? Is that the programme?”
So talking and laughing, they walked on. Soon they arrived at the cottage, where they found the three inmates just getting ready to start forth. Matilda had a covered basket already packed. She welcomed the two lads with a happy smile. Birthdays came and went in her life just as they did with other people, only as a rule there was scant reason to celebrate them, save as they marked the fact that Matilda was “getting old.”
But somehow the presence of cheery Brother Lu seemed to have started something. Possibly, although Matilda could not dream of what was coming, some intuition caused her to feel that this day was to be different from any other in her past. A sense of something good impending may have thrilled her poor pulses, though if asked why she found any particular reason for smiling, and throwing off her yoke of worry for a brief spell, she could have given no intelligent answer.
Brother Lu bustled up. He seemed very important, indeed.
“Glad to see you, boys,” he said, holding out his hand, which Thad actually seized eagerly; although just a few hours before he had been telling himself how delighted he would be to form one of a party of determined fellows who might visit the Hosmer cottage at midnight, and warn the ex-hobo to clear out of the neighborhood on penalty of having something decidedly unpleasant happen to him if he refused. But then that was before Thad had heard the wonderful story which Hugh unleashed, and fired at him as he sat there gaping and listening and slyly pinching his thigh so as to learn whether he were awake, or asleep and dreaming.