Grashy went straight to the parlor door, and opened it. She looked in, turned pale, and said “’Lection!”
That is a word the women have, up in the country, for solemn surprise, or exceeding emergency, or dire confusion. I do not know whether it is derived from religion or politics. It denotes a vital crisis, either way, and your hands full. Perhaps it had the theological association in Grashy’s mind, for the next thing she said was, “My soul!”
“Do you know what that’s a sign of, you children?”
“Sign the old thing was rotten,” said Marcus, rather sullenly.
“Wish that was all,” said Grashy, her lips white yet. “Hope there mayn’t nothin’ dreadful happen in this house before the year’s out. It’s wuss’n thirteen at the table.”
“Do you s’pose we did it?” asked Luke, anxiously.
“Where was you when it tumbled?”
“Right in front of it. But we were rolling away. We tumbled.”
“’Twould er come down the fust jar, anyway, if a door had slammed. The string’s cut right through,” said Grashy, looking at the two ends sticking up stiff and straight from the top fragment of the frame. “But the mercy is you war’n’t smashed yourselves to bits and flinders. Think o’that!”
“Do you s’pose ma’ll think of that?” asked Luclarion.
“Well—yes; but it may make her kinder madder,—just at first, you know. Between you and me and the lookin’-glass, you see,—well, yer ma is a pretty strong-feelin’ woman,” said Grashy, reflectively. “‘Fi was you I wouldn’t say nothin’ about it. What’s the use? I shan’t.”
“It’s a stump,” repeated Luclarion, sadly, but in very resolute earnest.
“Well, if you ain’t the curiousest young one, Luke Grapp!” said she, only half comprehending.
When Mrs. Grapp came home, Luclarion went into her bedroom after her, and told her the whole story. Mrs. Grapp went into the parlor, viewed the scene of calamity, took in the sense of loss and narrowly escaped danger, laid the whole weight of them upon the disobedience to be dealt with, and just as she had said, “You little fool!” out of the very shock of her own distress when Luke had burned her baby foot, she turned back now, took the two children up-stairs in silence, gave them each a good old orthodox whipping, and tucked them into their beds.
They slept one on each side of the great kitchen-chamber.
“Mark,” whispered Luke, tenderly, after Mrs. Grapp’s step had died away down the stairs. “How do you feel?”
“Hot!” said Mark. “How do you?”
“You ain’t mad with me, be you?”
“Then I feel real cleared up and comfortable. But it was a stump, wasn’t it?”
* * * * *
From that time forward, Luclarion Grapp had got her light to go by. She understood life. It was “stumps” all through. The Lord set them, and let them; she found that out afterward, when she was older, and “experienced religion.” I think she was mistaken in the dates, though; it was recognition, this later thing; the experience was away back,—at Lake Ontario.