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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 260 pages of information about Hocken and Hunken.

Dinah smoothed her apron and bustled forth.  It had always been her grievance—­and her mistress shared it—­against the nameless architect of Rilla farmstead, that he had made its long kitchen window face upon the strawyard, whereas a sensible man would have designed it to command the front door in flank, with its approaches.  This mistake of his cost Dinah a circuit by way of the apple-room every time she answered the porch bell; for as little as any porter of old in a border fortress would she have dreamed of admitting a visitor without first making reconnaissance.

A minute later she ran back and thrust her head in at the kitchen-door.

“Mistress,” she whispered excitedly, “it’s them!

“Oh!” exclaimed Mrs Bosenna, as the bell jangled again.  “They seem in a hurry, too.”  She smiled, and the smile, if the curve of her mouth forbade it to be grim, at any rate expressed decision.  She picked up the two letters and slipped them into her pocket.  “You can show them in.”

“Where, mistress?”

“Here.  And, Dinah, nothing about the post, mind!  Now, run!”

CHAPTER XVII.

APPARENTLY DIVIDES INTO THREE.

“You’ll pardon us, ma’am, for calling so early,” began Cai.  He was too far embarrassed to be conscious of any surprise at being ushered into the kitchen.

“—­You do the apologisin’, of course,” had been ’Bias’s words in the front porch.  “Yours was the first letter written:  and, besides, you’re a speaker.”

“You are quite welcome, the both of you,” Mrs Bosenna assured him as he came to a halt.  Her tone was polite, but a faint note of interrogation sounded in it.  “You have had your breakfast?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Ah, you are early indeed!  I was just about to sit down to mine.”

“We don’t want to interrupt, ma’am, but—­” Here Cai looked helplessly at ’Bias.

“Go on,” growled ’Bias.

“We—­we don’t want to seem rude—­”

“Never mind rude,” growled ’Bias again.  “Get it over.”

“The fact is, there’s been a mistake:  a painful mistake.  At least,” said Cai, growing more and more nervous under Mrs Bosenna’s gaze of calm inquiry, “it would be painful, if it weren’t so absurd.”  He forced a laugh.

“Don’t make noises like that,” commanded ’Bias.  “Get it over.”

“It’s about those letters, ma’am.”

“Letters?” Mrs Bosenna opened her dark eyes wide; and turned them interrogatively upon Dinah.  “Letters?”

“Letters?” repeated Dinah, taking her cue.

Relief broke like a sun-burst over Cai’s face.  “But perhaps you don’t read your letters, ma’am, until after breakfast?  And, if so, we’re in time.”

What letters?” asked Mrs Bosenna.

“They’ve surely been delivered, ma’am?  In fact we met the postman coming from the house.”

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