“‘It’s a peach of a fiddle,’ says Dave. ’It says in the catalogue it’s a genuine Cremonika—looks like a Cremona and plays just as good. I bet it’s the best fiddle in the world to be had for twelve dollars!’
“‘What’s that?’ says Mrs. Julia, erecting herself like an alarmed rattlesnake.
“‘Sure! It’s a genuine twelve-dollar one,’ says Dave proudly. ’My old one, that you so kindly raffled off, cost only five. I always wanted a better one, but I never had the money to spare till you come along. It’s awful hard to save up money round here.’
“‘Do you mean to tell me—’ says Mrs. Julia. She was so mad she couldn’t get any farther. Dave thought she was merely enthusiastic about his new fiddle.
“‘Sure! Only twelve dollars for this beauty,’ he says, fondling the instrument. ’We got down the mail-order catalogue the minute you left that money with us, and had a postal order on the way to Chicago that very night. I must say, lady, you brought a great pleasure into our life.’
“‘What about your poor wife?’ snaps Mrs. Julia.
“His poor wife comes up just then and looks affectionately at Dave and the new fiddle.
“‘He spent that money for another fiddle!’ says Mrs. Julia to her in low tones of horror.
“‘Sure! What did you think he was going to do with it?’ says Mrs. Dave. ’I must say we had two mighty dull weeks while Dave was waiting for this new one. He just mopes round the house when he ain’t got anything to play on. But this is a lot better than the old fiddle; it was worth waiting for. Did you thank the lady, Dave?’
“Mrs. Julia was now plumb speechless and kind of weak. And on top of these blows up comes Aunt Mollie the new-wed, and beams fondly on her.
“‘There!’ says she. ’Ain’t that a fine new fiddle that Dave bought with his twelve dollars? And wasn’t it worth postponing my wedding for, so we could have some music?’
“‘What’s that?’ says Mrs. Julia again. ‘Why did you postpone it?’
“‘Because the fiddle didn’t get here till last night,’ says Aunt Mollie, ’and I wasn’t going to have a wedding without music. It wouldn’t seem right. And don’t you think, yourself, it’s a lot better fiddle than Dave’s old one?’
“So this poor Mrs. Julia woman was now stricken for fair, thinking of all the trouble she’d been to about her tickets, and all to see this new fiddle.
“She went weakly into the house and lay down, with a headache, till I was ready to leave the gay throng. And the next day she left us to our fate. Still, she’d done us good. Dave has a new fiddle and Aunt Mollie has her high white shoes. So now you know all about it.”
We neared the Arrowhead gate. Presently its bell would peal a sweet message to those who laboured. Ma Pettengill turned in her saddle to scan the western horizon.
“A red sun has water in his eye,” said she. “Well, a good soak won’t hurt us.”