“You don’t live in Boggs City,” remarked Mr. Crow, appointing himself spokesman. “I c’n deduce that, ‘cause you’re carrying satchels an’ valises.”
“Mr. Crow is a famous detective,” explained Miss Banks. Anderson attempted to assume an unconscious pose, but in leaning back he missed the end of the bench, and sat sprawling upon the lap of Mrs. Harbaugh. As Mrs. Harbaugh had little or no lap to speak of, his downward course was diverted but not stayed. He landed on the floor with a grunt that broke simultaneously with the lady’s squeak; a fraction of a second later a roar of laughter swept the room. It was many minutes before quiet was restored and the “match” could be opened. Mrs. Cartwill chose Mrs. Farnsworth and her rival selected the husband of the dashing young woman. Mr. Reddon firmly and significantly announced his determination to sit near the teacher “to preserve order,” and not enter the contest of words.
Possibly it was the presence of the strangers that rattled and unnerved the famed spellers of both sides, for it was not long until the lines had dwindled to almost nothing. Three or four arrogant competitors stood forth and valiantly spelled such words as “Popocatepetl,” “Tschaikowsky,” “terpsichorean,” “Yang-tse-Kiang,” “Yseult,” and scores of words that could scarcely be pronounced by the teacher herself. But at last, just as the sleepy watchers began to nod and yawn the hardest, Mrs. Cartwill stood alone and victorious, her single opponent having gone down on the word “sassafras.” Anderson Crow had “gone down” early in the match by spelling “kerosene” “kerry-seen.” Ed Higgins followed with “ceriseen,” and ’Rast Little explosively had it “coal-oil.”
During the turmoil incident to the dispersing of the gathered hosts Miss Banks made her way to ’Rast Little’s side and informed him that the Farnsworths were to take her to Mrs. Holabird’s in their big sleigh. ’Rast was floored. When he started to remonstrate, claiming to be her “company,” big Tom Reddon interposed and drew Miss Banks away from her lover’s wrath.
“But I’m so sorry for him, Tom,” she protested contritely. “He did bring me here—in a way.”
“Well, I’ll take you home another way,” said good-looking Mr. Reddon. It was also noticed that Rosalie Gray had much of a confidential nature to say to Miss Banks as they parted for the evening, she to go home in Blucher Peabody’s new sleigh.
’Rast and Ed Higgins almost came to blows out at the hitch-rack, where the latter began twitting his discomfited rival. Anderson Crow kept them apart.
“I’ll kill that big dude,” growled ‘Rast. “He’s got no business comin’ here an’ rakin’ up trouble between me an’ her. You mark my words, I’ll fix him before the night’s over, doggone his hide!”
At least a dozen men, including Alf Reesling, heard this threat, and not one of them was to forget it soon. Anderson Crow noticed that Mrs. Holabird’s bob-sled drove away without either Miss Banks or ’Rast Little in its capacious depths. Miss Banks announced that her three friends from the city and she would stay behind and close the schoolhouse, putting everything in order. It was Friday night, and there would be no session until the following Monday. Mr. Crow was very sleepy for a detective. He snored all the way home.