“Y—e—s, I will try it for—the present.”
For some reason the “things” said to have been promised—“steak, you know, and so on,” did not arrive. Will gave out soon after noon the first day.
“Aunt Stanshy, I shall starve if I stay there,” said Will, appearing at her pantry door; “and if I didn’t starve, they would kill me with their abominable ‘cream’ that they make me buy, though they say it is at a reduced price.”
The restaurant was given up very soon. The president said that people had left the sea-side for the city, and they could hardly expect enough home trade to make it pay.
Pip thought he could make his table pay if he had some flowers to set it off. But that was not all; he was envious of others’ success. The fair had been characterized by the usual amount of “human nature” displayed on such occasions, and Pip now exhibited his peculiarities. For ten cents he bought a few white flowers at a hot-house, and then thought he would get ahead of the boys and be at the barn at an early hour, making sure for himself any possible customers.
“To give all an equal chance,” declared the president, “to make it the same for those who get up early and those who lie abed, the barn will be open at nine o’clock, except on holidays, when we will accommodate the public at an earlier hour.”
Pip thought he would be on hand by eight one morning. He would then be sure to catch any “nail custom,” as that was a class apt to be astir early, hunting up currency before other people had a chance at it. But the weather had stiffened since the storm. It was too cold to be agreeable, and even the nail-customers, usually so early at the barn, were now at home hugging the kitchen stove. Pip stood alone at the grand flower table. His blossoms lay unsought upon the table.
It was the governor down in the yard.
“We are going to see them skate on the pond back of the mill. Come, go!”
Pip could hardly be coming and going at the same time, but he left his table and left his flowers. That day, the cold increased steadily.
“It is nippin’ cold,” said Aunt Stanshy to a neighbor, and what did Jack Frost do but take out his nippers and clap them on Pip’s flowers! The next morning, Pip found a little heap of frozen petals on the “flower-table.” He could no more make them into flowers than if they had been petals of snow!
That day, “owing to the weather,” the “Fair” was closed. The boys divided the little heap of cash and the large heap of nails, and each knight took his share. The club now ceased to have an active existence. It became like any other stick that is laid aside and set up in the corner. It seemed as if the knights had forgotten that they belonged to a club whose expressive title suggested energetic movement.