“It’s a pleasure that you are planning, of that I am sure,” said Jotham.
“I’ll tell you just one thing more,” said Randy, “Molly Wilson is a nice girl and she will be sixteen to-morrow.”
“Oh ho! A birthday gift! Well, I don’t wonder you wish it to get there to-night, but if I leave it and run, how will they know that the bundles are for Molly?”
“Oh, I must put her name on the parcels now,” said Randy.
Jotham produced a pencil and thinking that Molly might recognize her writing, Randy printed in large letters this legend:
“For Mollie Wilson, from one who loves her.”
After viewing her work with satisfaction, Randy said,
“There, now they are all ready, but Jotham,” she added a moment later, “what will you do with them between now and twilight?”
“I’ll take the packages home, and as you wish no one to know about them, I’ll hide them in a safe place in our woodshed. When I start for Molly’s house I have to go in the same direction that I would if I were intending to stop at Reuben Jenks’ door, so I’ll leave the presents at the Wilson’s, and stop at Reuben’s on the way home; then if I’m known to have been at Reuben’s no one will guess that I was running about delivering presents.”
So at a bend of the road they parted, Jotham happy in the thought that he had a part in one of Randy’s plans, and at the same time doing her bidding, and Randy wondering if Molly’s delight when she looked at her gifts would be as great as that which she had herself experienced in sending them.
The sun shone down upon the dusty little “square,” and the foliage of the big willow tree near Barnes’ store looked as if frosted, such a thick coating of dust lay upon the leaves.
At the trough beneath the tree an old gray horse stood alternately taking a long draught of the clear water, and looking off across the square, as if lost in meditation.
A dragon-fly with steely wings lit upon the trough and, skilled little acrobat, balanced upon the extreme edge as if thus to take in the full beauty of old Dobbin’s reflection.
Exhaling a long breath as he lifted his shaggy head, the old horse sent a shower of bright drops upon the dragon-fly who, considering the act to be a great breach of etiquette, took zigzag flight across the sunny square, and up the winding road toward the mill.
It looked as if Dobbin might drink the trough dry if he chose, for an animated conversation was in progress at Barnes’ store, and his master was one of the leaders in every discussion, whether the topic chanced to be political, or simply a tale of village gossip.
A chubby urchin made little hills of dust, using a well worn slipper for a trowel, and Dobbin kicked and stamped impatiently, occasionally taking another drink, and still the discussion went on.