“Anything more!” he bellowed. “Be glad you’re allowed to serve His Majesty’s and the Kingdom’s drummer-boy, you confounded crofter-brat!”
“No, not that I see,” replied the little girl meekly. Never had she felt so crushed and unhappy. She was to look after the house for her mother and father, and now this had to happen!
“But the spectacles?” snapped Agrippa. “They must have dropped, too?”
“No,” said the girl, “there are no spectacles here.” Suddenly a faint hope sprang up in her. What if he couldn’t do anything to the clock without his glasses? What if they should be lost? And just then her eye lit tin the spectacle-case, behind a leg of the table.
The old man rummaged and searched among the cog-wheels and springs in his bundle. “I don’t see but I’ll have to get down on the floor myself, and hunt,” he said presently. “Get up, crofter-brat!”
Quick as a flash the little girl’s hand shot out and closed over the spectacle-case, which she hid under her apron.
“Up with you!” thundered Agrippa. “I believe you’re lying to me. What are you hiding under your apron? Come! Out with it!”
She promptly drew out one hand. The other hand she had kept under her apron the whole time. Now she had to show that one, too. Then he saw the huttered bread.
“Ugh! It’s buttered bread!” Agrippa shrank back as if the girl were holding out a rattlesnake.
“I sat eating it when you came, and then I put it out of sight for, I know you don’t like butter.”
The old man got down on his hands and knees and began to search, but to no purpose, of course.
“You must have left them where you were last,” said Glory Goldie.
He had wondered about that himself, though he thought it unlikely. At all events he could do nothing to the clock without his glasses. He had no choice but to gather up his tools and replace the works in the clock-case.
While his back was turned the little girl slipped the spectacles into his bundle, where he found them when he got to Loevdala Manor— the last place he had been to before coming to Ruffluck Croft. On opening the bundle to show they were not there, the first object that caught his eye was the spectacle-case.
Next time he saw Jan and Katrina in the pine grove outside the church, he went up to them.
“That girl of yours, that handy little girl of yours is going to be a comfort to you,” he told them.
There were many who said to Jan of Ruffluck that his little girl would be a comfort to him when she was grown. Folks did not seem to understand that she already made him happy every day and every hour that God granted them. Only once in the whole time of her growing period did Jan have to suffer any annoyance or humiliation on her account.
The summer the little girl was eleven her father took her to Loevdala Manor on the seventeenth of August, which was the birthday of the lord of the manor, Lieutenant Liljecrona.