HE ADMINISTERS SOOTHING SYRUP
“Calc’late both them young folks was guilty of an error of jedgment when they up and married each other,” said Will Pratt, postmaster of Coldriver, in the judicial tone which he had affected since his elevation to office.
“Mean Marthy Norton and Jed Lewis, Will? Referrin’ to them especial?” Scattergood peered after the young couple who had the moment before passed his hardware store, not walking jovially in the enjoyment of each other’s presence as young married folks should walk, but sullenly and in silence.
“They be the i-dentical ones,” Will declared. “Naggin’ and quarrelin’ and bickerin’ from sunup to milkin’ time. Used to do it private like, but it’s been gittin’ so lately you can’t pass the house without hearin’ ‘em referrin’ to each other mighty sharp and searchin’.”
“Um!... Difficulty appears to be what, Will? Got any idee where lies the seat of the trouble?”
“They jest hain’t habitually suited to one another,” said Will. “Whatever one of ’em is fur the tother’s ag’in’. Looks like they go to bed spiteful and wake up acr’monious. ’Tain’t like as if Jed was the breed of feller that beats his wife, or that Marthy was the kind that looks out of the corner of her eye at drummers stoppin’ to the hotel.”
“Jest kind of irritate one another, eh?” said Scattergood, thoughtfully. “Kind of git on each other’s nerves, you might say. Um!... I call to mind when they was married, five year ago. ’Twan’t indicated them days. Jed he couldn’t set easy if Marthy wasn’t nigh, and Marthy went around lookin’ as if she’d swallered a pin and it hurt if Jed was more ’n forty rod off. If ever two young folks was all het up over each other, Jed and Marthy was them young folks.... And ’twan’t but five year ago....”
“End by separating” said the postmaster.
“There’s the stage a-rattlin’ in,” Scattergood said, suddenly. “Better git ready f’r distributin’ the mail, Will. G’-by, Will; and, Will, if ’twas me I dunno but what I’d kind of keep my mouth shet about Marthy and Jed. Outside gabblin’ hain’t calc’lated to help matters none. G’-by, Will.”
The postmaster recognized his dismissal; he knew that the manner which had fallen upon Scattergood portended that something was on his mind and that he wanted to be alone and think, so he withdrew hastily and plodded across the dusty road to the office of which he was the executive head.
As for Scattergood, he pressed his double chin down upon his bulging chest, closed his eyes, and gave himself up enthusiastically to looking like a gigantic figure of discouragement. He waggled his head dubiously.
“Wonder if it kin be laid to my door,” he said to himself. “I figgered they was about made f’r each other, and I brung ’em together.... Somethin’s got crossways. Um!... Take them young folks separate, and you couldn’t ask for nothin’ better.... Don’t understand it a mite.... Anyhow, things has turned out as they be, and what kin I do about it?”