“Mebbe ye didn’t know that yer pa bought a pair er shoes jest that size t’other night, did ye?”
No one person was ever known to have bought two pairs of shoes and two dresses at Barnes’ store within a week, and the clerk was wild with curiosity, but just as he was about to repeat his question, Jotham entered the store, and Joel turned to see what his errand might be.
“Nothing to-day,” said Jotham, “I saw Randy in here, and I thought I’d offer to take her bundles.”
Together they left the store, and as they turned into the quiet, shady road Randy said,
“I think I never was more glad to see you, Jotham, than when I turned and saw you in the doorway of the store.”
“Then I’m doubly glad I came,” said Jotham.
“Well, Joel Simpkins thought ’twas the funniest thing that I should be buying something when father was not with me, and he asked just every question that he could think of except one. He didn’t ask me where I got my money, and I do believe he would have asked me that if you hadn’t come in just when you did.”
“O Randy, it’s a funny sight to see you provoked,” said Jotham with a hearty laugh. “I know that he is an inquisitive fellow.
“You know I’ve been studying this summer with the young professor who has been boarding at our house, and father has arranged it so that when he returns to teach at the university I shall go back with him, not to the college of course, but as his private pupil. I shall work very hard at my studies and hope another year to enter college.
“Well, father was speaking to Mr. Barnes of my aspirations, and his plans for me, when Joel stepped over to where they stood talking, and said he,
“‘Ain’t that goin’ ter be pooty expensive, Mr. Potts, an’ likely ter put kind er high notions inter Jotham’s head?’
“Father turned and looked at him, then he said,
“’I’m not likely to incur any bills which I am unable to meet, and as to Jotham’s head, I truly believe it is level.’”
They both laughed to think of Joel’s discomfiture, and under the shade of overhanging branches they sat down upon a large rock at the side of the road and Randy, turning toward Jotham said,
“There, now I’ll tell you what I could not tell this morning, because dear little Prue cannot keep a secret, and you can, and will.”
[Illustration: “I’ll tell you just one thing more,” said Randy.]
“I will if you wish it, Randy,” said Jotham.
“Well then, these parcels are not for me, they are for someone else, and I do not wish her to know where they came from, Jotham, are you willing to go over to the Wilson farm to-night?” asked Randy.
“I’d go to Joppa if you asked it,” answered the boy with a laugh.
“Then go to Molly’s house after dark, and leave these bundles on the doorstep. Knock loudly, and then run away just far enough so that you will be able to see them taken in, and don’t tell anyone about it. It’s just a nice little surprise and you and I will keep our secret.”