“Whut am I a-goin’ to do?” he demanded. “I nevah can come all de way hack yere in de snow wif dese yere ol’ legs o’ mine.”
“Get one of them station cabs,” advised the grocer; and so, after considerable discussion, the bundle problem was solved.
Ten minutes later Uncle Noah entered a hired carriage for the first time in his life. At the town florist’s he rapped a timid signal to the driver to stop, and, glowing with anticipation, spryly shuffled into the warm, scented air of the little shop. Here, to the smiling clerk’s astonishment, he ordered a bunch of violets to be delivered Christmas morning to “de young lady wif de gray eyes whut’s at Major Verney’s.”
“Surely,” smiled the clerk, “you don’t want that on the card?”
But Uncle Noah was stubborn; more, he insisted on writing the inscription himself, his orthography quite as quaint as his penmanship, and so the card went to be read by the wonderful gray eyes in the morning.
Back through the snow in his rickety carriage rolled Uncle Noah, rattling home along the snowy road down which he had trudged in the early evening, chuckling now intermittently in a mental rehearsal of his new plan.
“Fifty cents a day!” he thought, “an’ to-morrow I’se a-goin’ to slip over to Fernlands in de mornin’ an’ ask her to lemme buy maself back on de ‘stallment plan. Mos’ likely she’ll take a dollar a week, an’ wid all de rest o’ dat grocer money ol’ Mis’ doan have to know whut de Colonel an’ me is a-goin’ through.”
In accordance with Uncle Noah’s whispered directions the cab crept gently up the driveway at Brierwood and paused at the kitchen door, where the driver, who had taken a great fancy to Uncle Noah, became transformed into a benevolent stevedore, tiptoeing in and out of the kitchen with the bundles which the old darky drew from the cavernous pit of the cab. Job’s understudy came last, and Uncle Noah, tightly pressing the precious fowl in his arms, watched the carriage drive slowly away. Then, after an interval in the kitchen devoted to hiding his purchases, he sought the library, striving to simulate a decent depression over the assumed decapitation of Job.
Colonel Fairfax looked up inquiringly as he entered.
“I’se jus’ come to tell yoh, sah,” said Uncle Noah with a meaning glance at Mrs. Fairfax, “dat I has de turkey all ready foh de oven.”
A faint red crept through the Colonel’s skin, but he met the darky’s eyes squarely. “Thank you, Uncle Noah!” he said, and the negro shuffled hurriedly away.
In his old rocking-chair by the kitchen fire Uncle Noah, alert and excited, waited until he heard the Colonel and Mrs. Fairfax go up to bed; then, chuckling to himself, he extinguished the kitchen lights, and, carrying one of his Christmas bundles, plodded across the field to Job’s nocturnal hermitage. The light of a match revealed the tyrant roosting glumly on the summit of a ruined plowshare.