Aunt Melvy paused in her dusting and chuckled: “Lor’, honey, dat’s right! You orter put on airs all de time, wid all de money de judge is got. He says to me yisterday, says he, ’Can’t you ’suade yer Miss Sue not to be cleanin’ up so much, an’ not to go out in de front yard wid dat ole sunbonnet on?’”
“Well, I’d like to know how things would get done if I didn’t do them,” exclaimed Mrs. Hollis, hotly. “I suppose he would like me to let things go like the Meeches! The only time I ever saw Mrs. Meech work was when she swept the front pavement, and then she made Martha walk around behind her and read out loud while she was doing it.”
“It’s Mr. Meech that’s in the yard now,” announced Sandy from the side window. “He’s raking the leaves with one hand and a-reading a book with the other.”
“I knew it!” cried Mrs. Hollis. “I never saw such doings. They say she even leaves the dishes overnight. And yet she can sit on her porch and smile at people going by, just like her house was cleaned up. I hate a hypocrite.”
Sandy had had ample time to watch the Meeches during his long convalescence. He had been moved from the spare room to a snug little room over the kitchen, which commanded a fine view of the neighbors. When the green book got too heavy to hold, or his eyes grew too tired to look at the many magazines with which the judge supplied him, he would lie still and watch the little drama going on next door.
Mrs. Meech was a large, untidy woman who always gave the impression of needing to be tucked up. The end of her gray braid hung out behind one ear, her waist hung out of her belt, and even the buttons on her shoes hung out of the buttonholes in shameless laziness.
Mr. Meech did not need tucking in; he needed letting out. He seemed to have shrunk in the wash of life. In spite of the fact that he was three sizes too small for his wife, to begin with, he emphasized it by wearing trousers that cleared his shoe-tops and sleeves half-way to his elbows. But this was only on week-days, for on Sunday Sandy would see him emerge, expand, and flutter forth in an ample suit of shiny broadcloth. For Mr. Meech was the pastor of the Hard-Shell Baptist Church in Clayton, and if his domestic economy was a matter of open gossip, there was no question concerning the fact of his learning. It had been the boast of the congregation for years that Judge Hollis was the only man in town who was smart enough to understand his sermons. When Mr. Meech started out in the morning with a book under his arm and one sticking out of each pocket, Sandy would pull up on his elbow to watch proceedings. He loved to see fat Mrs. Meech pat the little man lovingly on the head and kiss him good-by; he loved to see Martha walk with him to the gate and throw kisses after him until he turned the curve in the road.
Martha was a pale, thin girl with two long, straight plaits and a long, straight dress. She went to school in the morning, and when she came home at noon her mother always hurried to meet her and kissed her on both cheeks. Sandy had got quite in the habit of watching for her at the side window where she came to study. He leaned forward now to see if she were there.