“Who?” asked Toledo, before he could raise his eyes.
But though Miss Brown answered not a word, he did not repeat his question, for such a rare crimson came into the little teacher’s face, that he hid it away in his breast, and acted as if he would never let it out again.
Another knock at the door.
Toledo dropped into a chair, and Miss Brown, hastily smoothing back her hair, opened the door, and again saw the judge.
“I jest dropped back to say—” commenced the judge, when his eye fell upon Toledo.
He darted a quick glance at the teacher, comprehended the situation at once, and with a loud shout of “Out of his misery, by thunder!” started on a run to carry the news to the saloon.
* * * * *
Miss Brown completed her term, and then the minister, who was on the local Board, was called in to formally make her tutor for life to a larger pupil. Lecomte, with true French gallantry, insisted on being groomsman, and the judge gave away the bride. The groom, who gave a name very different from any ever heard at the Flat, placed on his bride’s finger a ring, inscribed within, “Made from gold washed by Huldah Brown.” The little teacher has increased the number of her pupils by several, and her latest one calls her grandma.
“Ye don’t say?”
“I do though.”
“Wa’al, I never.”
“Nuther did I—adzackly.”
“Don’t be provokin’, Ephr’m—what makes you talk in that dou’fle way?”
“Wa’al, ma, the world hain’t all squeezed into this yere little town of Crankett. I’ve been elsewheres, some, an’ I’ve seed some funny things, and likewise some that wuzn’t so funny ez they might be.”
“P’r’aps ye hev, but ye needn’t allus be a-settin’ other folks down. Mebbe Crankett ain’t the whole world, but it’s seed that awful case of Molly Capins, and the shipwreck of thirty-four, when the awful nor’easter wuz, an’—”
“Wa’al, wa’al, ma—don’t let’s fight ’bout it,” said Ephr’m, with a sigh, as he tenderly scraped down a new ax-helve with a piece of glass, while his wife made the churn-dasher hurry up and down as if the innocent cream was Ephr’m’s back, and she was avenging thereon Ephr’m’s insults to Crankett and its people.
Deacon Ephraim Crankett was a descendant of the founder of the village, and although now a sixty-year old farmer, he had in his lifetime seen considerable of the world. He had been to the fishing-banks a dozen times, been whaling twice, had carried a cargo of wheat up the Mediterranean, and had been second officer of a ship which had picked up a miscellaneous cargo in the heathen ports of Eastern Asia.
[Illustration: Jim Hockson’s revenge.—“He held it under the light, and examined it closely.”]