“There wasn’t anything to laugh at, mind you, but she didn’t know that. She got to fixin’ her back hair and lookin’ worried about her clothes. ’Nen she’d wipe her face to see if the powder was on straight, all the time wonderin’ what in thunder I was laughin’ at. If she passed in her kerridge she’d peep back to see if I was laughin’; and I allus was. I never failed. All this time I wasn’t sayin’ a word-jest grinnin’ as though she tickled me half to death. Gradually I begin to be scientific about it. I got so that when she caught me laughin’, I’d try my best to hide the grin. Course that made it all the worse. She fidgeted an’ squirmed an’ got red in the face till it looked like she was pickled. Doggone, ef she didn’t begin to neglect her business as a great-granddaughter! She didn’t have time to lord it over her peasants. She was too blame busy wonderin’ what I was laughin’ at.
[Illustration: “It was a wise, discreet old oak”]
“‘Nen she begin to look peaked an’ thin. She looked like she was seem’ ghosts all the time. That blamed grin of mine pursued her every minute. Course, she couldn’t kick about it. That wouldn’t do at all. She jest had to bear it without grinnin’. There wasn’t anything to say. Finally, she got to stayin’ away from the meetin’s an’ almost quit drivin’ through the town. Everybody noticed the change in her. People said she was goin’ crazy about her hack hair. She lost thirty pounds worryin’ before August, and when September come, the judge had to take her to a rest cure. They never come back to Tinkletown, an’ the judge had to sell the place fer half what it cost him. Fer two years she almost went into hysterics when anybody laughed. But it done her good. It changed her idees. She got over her high an’ mighty ways, they say, an’ I hear she’s one of the nicest, sweetest old ladies in Boggs City nowadays. But Blootch Peabody says that to this day she looks flustered when anybody notices her back hair. The Lord knows I wa’n’t laughin’ at her hair. I don’t see why she thought so, do you?”
Bonner laughed long and heartily over the experiment; but Rosalie vigorously expressed her disapproval of the marshal’s methods.
“It’s the only real mean thing I ever heard of you doing, daddy Crow!” she cried. “It was cruel!”
“Course you’d take her part, bein’ a woman,” said he serenely. “Mrs. Crow did, too, when I told her about it twenty years ago. Women ain’t got much sense of humour, have they, Wick?” He was calling him Wick nowadays; and the young man enjoyed the familiarity.
The days came when Bonner could walk about with his cane, and he was not slow to avail himself of the privilege this afforded. It meant enjoyable strolls with Rosalie, and it meant the elevation of his spirits to such heights that the skies formed no bounds for them. The town was not slow to draw conclusions. Every one said it would be a “match.” It was certain that the interesting Boston man had