“Mr. Wright, I never wished that I lived in a palace until now.”
He didn’t notice me until I held up both feet and called: “Look a’ there, Uncle Peabody.”
Then he came and took me out of the buggy and I saw the tears in his eyes when he kissed me.
The man told of finding me on his little veranda, and I told of my ride with Dug Draper, after which Uncle Peabody said:
“I’m goin’ to put in your hoss and feed him, Comptroller.”
“And I’m goin’ to cook the best dinner I ever cooked in my life,” said Aunt Deel.
I knew that my new friend must be even greater than the Dunkelbergs, for there was a special extravagance in their tone and manner toward him which I did not fail to note. His courtesy and the distinction of his address, as he sat at our table, were not lost upon me, either. During the meal I heard that Dug Draper had run off with a neighbor’s horse and buggy and had not yet returned. Aunt Deel said that he had taken me with him out of spite, and that he would probably never come back—a suspicion justified by the facts of history.
When the great man had gone Uncle Peabody took me in his lap and said very gently and with a serious look:
“You didn’t think I meant it, did ye?—that you would have to go ’way from here?”
“I don’t know,” was my answer.
“Course I didn’t mean that. I just wanted ye to see that it wa’n’t goin’ to do for you to keep on tippin’ things over so.”
I sat telling them of my adventures and answering questions, flattered by their tender interest, until milking time. I thoroughly enjoyed all that. When I rose to go out with Uncle Peabody, Aunt Deel demanded my shoes.
“Take ’em right off,” said she. “It ain’t a goin’ to do to wear ’em common—no, sir-ee! They’re for meetin’ or when company comes—ayes!”
I regretfully took off the shoes and gave them to her, and thereafter the shoes were guarded as carefully as the butternut trousers.
That evening as I was about to go up-stairs to bed, Aunt Deel said to my uncle:
“Do you remember what ol’ Kate wrote down about him? This is his first peril an’ he has met his first great man an’ I can see that Sile Wright is kind o’ fond o’ him.”
I went to sleep that night thinking of the strange, old, ragged, silent woman.
WE GO TO MEETING AND SEE MR. WRIGHT AGAIN
I had a chill that night and in the weeks that followed I was nearly burned up with lung fever. Doctor Clark came from Canton to see me every other day for a time, and one evening Mr. Wright came with him and watched all night near my bedside. He gave me medicine every hour, and I remember how gently he would speak and raise my head when he came with the spoon and the draft. It grieved me to hear him say, as he raised me in his arms, that I wasn’t bigger than “a cock mosquito.”