“Now I aint a malicious man, no way of the world, Mister,—well, whatever your name is. But I tell you, that old weasel is laying for something ugly about that youngster. Some say he’s applied to send him to the Reform School; good little boy as I’d want to see. I believe it’s so. Don’t tell me! He’s got money, that child has, or land, and Dym Scraper means to have it. The child’s got no one in the world to look to, and folks about here are so skeered of Deacon Scraper that they’ll set by, I believe, and see a thing like that done before their eyes. I tell ye what, sir, I’m a church-member, and I don’t want to say nothing but what’s right and proper; but if there was a prophet anyways handy in these times (and a mighty good thing to have round, too), there’d be fire and brimstun called, down on Dym Scraper, and the hull village would turn out to see him get it, too!”
“But you, sir!” said the Skipper, who had his knife out now, and was carving strange things on the table, as was his manner when moved. “You will not permit such a thing, a person of heart as you have the air to be? No, you will not permit that a thing enormous take place at your side?”
Mr. Bill Hen’s face grew purple; he drew out a large handkerchief and wiped his forehead, puffing painfully; there was a pause.
“Married man?” he said, at length. “No, beg your pardon, unmarried, I remember. Well, sir, you may know something of life, but there’s a sight you don’t know yet. See?”
Again there was silence, the Skipper gazing darkly at his carven runes, Mr. Bill Hen still puffing and wiping his brow.
“Yes, there’s a sight you don’t know about,” he said again. “My wife, you see, she’s a good woman, there’s no better woman round; but she’s masterful, sir, she’s masterful, and I’m a man who’s always led a quiet life and desire peace. And there’s more behind; though why on the airth I’m telling you all this is more than I can tell!”
The last words came with a peevish outburst, and he hesitated, as if minded to say no more; but the Skipper raised his head, and the dark eyes sent out a compelling glance. The weaker man faltered, gave way, and resumed his speech.
“She’s a masterful woman, I tell ye! She thinks Deacon Scraper is a dangerous man, and there aint nobody here but what’ll agree with her that far. Then—he—he’s got a mortgage on my farm, same as he has on others,—plenty of others as is better clothed with means than ever I’ve been; and, all about it, my wife aint willing for us to make an enemy of the old man. That’s where the land lays, and you can see for yourself. Plenty in the village is fixed the same way; he’s got power, that old grape-skin has, power over better men than he. We don’t want to see that child put upon, but we aint no blood to him, and there aint anybody but feels that he himself aint just the one to interfere. That’s the way my wife feels, and I,—well, there now! you’re