“Didn’t he hook huckleberries after all?”
MRS. GORHAM SMELLS SMOKE
“I was perfectly positive that if we went away and left you in charge for one single day, Kit, you would manage to get into some kind of misadventure,” Jean said, reproachfully, that evening. “If you only wouldn’t act on the impulse of the moment. Why on earth didn’t you tell father, and ask his advice before you telephoned to Mr. Hicks?”
“That’s a sensible thing for you to say,” retorted Kit, hotly, “after you’ve all warned me not to worry Dad about anything. And I did not act upon the impulse of the moment,” very haughtily. “I made certain logical deductions from certain facts. How was I to know he was hunting gypsy moths and other winged beasts when I saw him bending over bushes in our berry patch? Anyhow it would simplify matters if Dad would let us know when he expected illustrious visitors. Did you see old Hannibal’s face and Evie’s, too? They were so disappointed at not having a prisoner in tow to exhibit to the Gilead populace on the way over to the jail.”
Mrs. Gorham glanced up over her spectacles at the circle of faces around the sitting-room table. The girls had volunteered to help her pick over berries for canning the following day. It was a sacrifice to make, too, with the midsummer evening calling to them in all its varied orchestral tones: Katydids and peep frogs, the swish of the wind through the big Norway pines on the terraces, and the scrape of Shad’s old fiddle from the back porch. It was Friday evening, and Mr. and Mrs. Robbins had driven over to the Judge’s to attend a community meeting, the latter being one of Cousin Roxy’s innovations in Gilead.
“Land alive,” she had been wont to say. “Here we are all living on the same hills and valleys and never meeting ’cept on Sundays when we have to, or now and again when there happens to be a funeral. I declare if I didn’t drive about all the time behind Ella Lou, I’d never know how folks were getting on. So every two weeks the Judge and I are going to hold an old-time social, only we call it a community meeting so as to try to give it the new spirit. It’s just as well for us to remember that we ain’t all dead yet by a long shot, ’though I do think there’s a whole lot that ain’t got any more get up and get to them than Noah’s old gray mule that had to be shoved off the Ark.”
Mr. Robbins had invited the erstwhile prisoner to accompany them, but he had decided instead to keep on his way to the old Inn on the hill above the village, much to Jean and Helen’s disappointment.
Helen had discovered that his first name was Stanley, which relieved her mind considerably.
“If it had been Abijah or Silas, I know I could never have forgiven him for getting in the berry patch,” she said, “but there is something promising about Stanley. Seems as if he lit like Mercury just when there wasn’t anything happening here at all.”