We spent a silent afternoon gathering apples. After supper we played Old Sledge and my uncle had hard work to keep us in good countenance. We went to bed early and I lay long hearing the autumn wind in the popple leaves and thinking of that great thing which had grown strong within us, little by little, in the candle-light.
A PARTY AND—MY FOURTH PERIL?
“A dead fish can swim down-stream but only a live one can swim up it,” said Uncle Peabody as we rode toward the village together. We had been talking of that strong current of evil which had tried to carry us along with it. I understood him perfectly.
It was a rainy Sunday. In the middle of the afternoon Uncle Peabody and I had set out in our spring buggy with the family umbrella—a faded but sacred implement, always carefully dried, after using, and hung in the clothes press. I remember that its folded skirt was as big around as my coat sleeve and that Uncle Peabody always grasped it in the middle, with hand about its waist, in a way of speaking, when he carried it after a shower. The rain came on again and with such violence that we were drenched to the skin in spite of the umbrella. It was still raining when we arrived at the familiar door in Ashery Lane. Uncle Peabody wouldn’t stop.
“Water never scares a live fish,” he declared with a chuckle as he turned around. “Good-by, Bart.”
He hurried away. We pioneers rarely stopped or even turned out for the weather. Uncle Peabody used to say that the way to get sick was to change your clothes every time you got wet. It was growing dusk and I felt sorry for him.
“Come in,” said the voice of the schoolmaster at the door. “There’s good weather under this roof.”
He saw my plight as I entered.
“I’m like a shaggy dog that’s been in swimming,” I said.
“Upon my word, boy, we’re in luck,” remarked the schoolmaster.
I looked up at him.
“Michael Henry’s clothes!—sure, they’re just the thing for you!”
“Will they go on me?” I asked, for, being large of my age, I had acquired an habitual shyness of things that were too small for me, and things, too, had seemed to have got the habit of being too small.
“As easily as Nick Tubbs goes on a spree, and far more becoming, for I do not think a spree ever looks worse than when Tubbs is on it. Come with me.”
I followed him up-stairs, wondering how it had happened
Henry had clothes.
He took me into his room and brought some handsome soft clothes out of a press with shirt, socks and boots to match.
“There, my laddie buck,” said he, “put them on.”
“These will soon dry on me,” I said.
“Put them on—ye laggard! Michael Henry told me to give them to you. It’s the birthday night o’ little Ruth, my boy. There’s a big cake with candles and chicken pie and jellied cookies and all the like o’ that. Put them on. A wet boy at the feast would dampen the whole proceedings.”