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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Imperium in Imperio.

We can now reveal the whereabouts of Belton and James Henry.  They had clambered into the loft for the purpose of watching the progress of the preacher’s meal, calculating at each step how much he would probably leave.  James Henry found a little hole in the loft directly over the table, and through this hole he did his spying.  Belton took his position at the larger entrance hole, lying flat on his stomach.  He poked his head down far enough to see the preacher, but held it in readiness to be snatched back, if the preacher’s eyes seemed to be about to wander his way.

He was kept in a state of feverish excitement, on the one hand, by fear of detection, and on the other, by a desire to watch the meal.  When about half of the biscuits were gone, and the preacher seemed as fresh as ever, Belton began to be afraid for his promised biscuit and piece of chicken.  He crawled to James Henry and said hastily—­“James, dees haf gone,” and hurriedly resumed his watch.  A moment later he called out in a whisper, “He’s tuck anudder.”  Down goes Belton’s head to resume his watch.  Every time the preacher took another biscuit Belton called out the fact to James.

All of the chicken was at last destroyed and only one biscuit remained; and Belton’s whole soul was now centered on that biscuit.  In his eagerness to watch he leaned a good distance out, and when the preacher reached forth his hand to take the last one Belton was so overcome that he lost his balance and tumbled out of his hole on the floor, kicking, and crying over and over again:  “I knowed I wuzunt goin’ to git naren dem biscuits.”

The startled preacher hastily arose from the table and gazed on the little fellow in bewilderment.  As soon as it dawned upon him what the trouble was, he hastily got the remaining biscuit and gave it to Belton.  He also discovered that his voracity had made enemies of the rest of the children, and he very adroitly passed a five cent piece around to each.

James Henry, forgetting his altitude and anxious not to lose his recompense, cried out loudly from the loft:  “Amanda Ann you git mine fur me.”

The preacher looked up but saw no one.  Seeing that his request did not have the desired effect, James Henry soon tumbled down full of dust, straw and cobwebs, and came into possession of his appeasing money.  The preacher laughed heartily and seemed to enjoy his experience highly.

The table was cleared, and the preacher and Mrs. Piedmont dismissed the children in order to discuss unmolested the subject which had prompted her to extend an invitation to the parson.  In view of the intense dislike the teacher had conceived for Belton, she desired to know if it were not best to withdraw him from school altogether, rather than to subject him to the harsh treatment sure to come.

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