“Jed ... Jed ... darlin’,” Martha cried, and as Scattergood passed out he saw from the corner of his eye that she was sobbing on her husband’s hickory shirt and that he was patting her back with awkward gentleness.
“Looked a mite like Jed wanted we should go,” said Scattergood.
“I’ll have the law on to him. He’ll be showed that he can’t stand up to the First Selectman of this here town, I’ll—”
“You’ll go home and set down in the shade and cool off,” said Scattergood, merrily, “and while you’re a-coolin’ you might sort of thank Gawd that there’s sich things as human bein’s with human feelin’s, and that there’s sich things as babies ...that sometimes gits themselves left on the right doorstep.... G’-by, Selectman. G’-by.”
A week later Scattergood was passing the Lewis home early in the evening. In the side yard was a hammock under the trees which had been unoccupied this year past, but to-night it was occupied again. Martha was there with the baby against her breast, and Jed was there, his arm tightly about his wife, and one of the baby’s hands lying on his calloused palm.... As Scattergood watched he saw Jed bend clumsily and kiss the tiny fingers ... and Martha turned a trifle and smiled up into her husband’s eyes.
Scattergood passed on, blinking, perhaps because dust had gotten in his eyes. He stopped at the post office and spoke to Postmaster Pratt.
“Call to mind my speakin’ of soothin’ syrup and Jed Lewis and his wife?” he asked.
“Seems like I mind it, Scattergood.”
“Jest walk past their house, Postmaster. Calc’late you’ll see I figgered clost to right.... Marthy’s a-sittin’ there with Jed in the hammick, and they’re a-holdin’ on their lap the doggondest best soothin’ syrup f’r man and wife that any doctor c’u’d perscribe.... Calculate it’s one of them nature’s remedies.... Go take a look, Postmaster.... G’-by.”
HE HELPS WITH THE ROUGH WORK
Scattergood Baines, as he sat with shirt open at the throat, his huge body sagged down in the chair that had been especially reinforced to sustain his weight, seemed to passing Coldriver village to be drowsing. Many people suspected Scattergood of drowsing when he was exceedingly wide awake and observant of events. It was part of his stock in trade.
At this moment he was looking across the square toward the post office. A large, broad-shouldered young man, with hair sun-bleached to a ruddy yellow, had alighted from a buggy and entered the office. He was a fine, bulky, upstanding farmer, built for enduring much hard labor in times of peace and for performing feats of arms in time of war. He looked like a fighter; he was a fighter—a willing fighter, and folks up and down the valley stepped aside if it was noised about that Abner Levens had broken loose. It was not that Abner delighted in the fruit of the vine nor the essence of the maize; he was a teetotaler. But it did seem as if nature had overdone the matter of providing him with the machinery for creating energy and had overlooked the safety valve. Wherefore Abner, once or twice a year, lost his temper.