“Like she’s a-goin’ to do,” said Jason Locker, with a voice and air of pride. “Why, folks, that there gal is goin’ to be my daughter-in-law!”
Scattergood patted Yvette on the back heavily, but jubilantly. “I’ve diskivered,” he said, “that if you can’t crack a hick’ry nut with a pad of butter, you better use a hammer.... Sometimes Coldriver’s a nut needin’ a sledge—but when it cracks it’s full of meat.”
HE TREATS AN ATTACK OF LIFE
Scattergood Baines lounged back in his armchair, reinforced by iron crosspieces to sustain his weight, and basked in the warmth from the Round Oak stove, heated to redness by the clean, dry maple within. He was drowsy. For the time he had ceased even to search for a scheme whereby he could rid his hardware stock of one dozen sixteen-pound sledge hammers acquired by him at a recent auction down in Tupper Falls. His eyes were closed and his soul was at peace.
Somebody rattled the door knob and then rapped on the door. This was so unusual a method of seeking entrance to a hardware store that Scattergood sat up abruptly, blinking.
“Wa-al,” he said, tartly, “be you comin’ in, or be you goin’ to stand out there wagglin’ that door knob all day?”
“I’m coming in, Mr. Baines, as soon as I can contrive to open the door,” replied a male voice, a voice that appeared incapable of expressing impatience; a gentle voice; the voice of a man who would dream dreams but perform few actions.
“Um!... It’s you, hey? What d’you allus carry books under your arm for? How d’you calculate to be able to open doors, with both hands full?”
The knob turned at last, and Nahum Pound, long schoolmaster in the little district school on Hiper Hill, came in hesitatingly, clutching with each arm half a dozen books which struggled to escape with the ingenuity of inanimate objects. Nahum’s hair was white; his face was vague—lovably vague.... A man of considerable, if confused, learning, he was.
“Well?” said Scattergood. “Got suthin’ on to your mind? Commence unloadin’ it before it busts your back.”
“It’s Sarah,” said Nahum, helplessly.
“Um!... Sairy, eh? What’s Sairy up to?”
“I don’t seem to gather, Mr. Baines. She’s—she’s difficult. Something seems to be working in her head.”
“Twenty-two, hain’t she? Twenty-two?... Prob’ly a number of things a-workin’ in her head. Got any special symptoms?”
“She—she wants to leave home, Mr. Baines.” Nahum said this with mild amazement. His amazement would have been no greater—and not a whit less mild—had his daughter announced her intention to swim from New York to Liverpool, or to marry the chef of the Czar of Russia.