“Why does she follow him that way?” I asked the storekeeper when they were gone.
“Oh, I dunno, boy!” he answered. “She’s crazy an’ I guess she dunno what she’s doin’.”
The explanation did not satisfy me. I knew, or thought I knew, better than he the meaning of that look in her eyes. I had seen it before.
I started for the big schoolhouse and a number of boys joined me with pleasant words.
“I saw you lookin’ at ol’ Kate,” one of them said to me. “Don’t ye ever make fun o’ her. She’s got the evil eye an’ if she puts it on ye, why ye’ll git drownded er fall off a high place er somethin’.”
The boys were of one accord about that.
Sally ran past us with that low-lived Wills boy, who carried her books for her. His father had gone into the grocery business and Henry wore boughten clothes. I couldn’t tell Sally how mean he was. I was angry and decided not to speak to her until she spoke to me. I got along better in school, although there was some tittering when I recited, probably because I had a broader dialect and bigger boots than the boys of the village.
I MEET PRESIDENT VAN BUREN AND AM CROSS-EXAMINED BY MR. GRIMSHAW
The days went easier after that. The boys took me into their play and some of them were most friendly. I had a swift foot and a good eye as well as a strong arm, and could hold my own at three-old-cat—a kind of baseball which we played in the school yard. Saturday came. As we were sitting down at the table that morning the younger children clung to the knees of Mr. Hacket and begged him to take them up the river in a boat.
“Good Lord! What wilt thou give me when I grow childless?” he exclaimed with his arms around them. “That was the question of Abraham, and it often comes to me. Of course we shall go. But hark! Let us hear what the green chair has to say.”
There was a moment of silence and then he went on with a merry laugh. “Right ye are, Michael Henry! You are always right, my boy—God bless your soul! We shall take Bart with us an’ doughnuts an’ cheese an’ cookies an’ dried meat for all.”
From that moment I date the beginning of my love for the occupant of the green chair in the home of Michael Hacket. Those good people were Catholics and I a Protestant and yet this Michael Henry always insisted upon the most delicate consideration for my faith and feelings.
“I promised to spend the morning in the field with Mr. Wright, if I may have your consent, sir,” I said.
“Then we shall console ourselves, knowing that you are in better company,” said Mr. Hacket.
Mr. Dunkelberg called at the house in Ashery Lane to see me after breakfast.
“Bart, if you will come with me I should like to order some store clothes and boots for you,” he said in his squeaky voice.