The old darky choked miserably at the thought of the destined check to Job’s gobbling career and, replacing his spectacles, carefully carried in the supper, prolonging its simple service to the uttermost, with the single idea of adding precious minutes to the doomed turkey’s span of life.
When at length he sought the barn it was quite dark and the velvet stillness of the night was dotted thickly with snowflakes. With trembling fingers he opened the great barn-door, lit a queer old lantern hanging just within, and hung it high upon a projecting hook. The dim light revealed an antique carriage-house, in one corner of which upon a rude, improvised roost of shingles the tyrant Job slept the sleep of the just and the unjust rolled into one. As the lights flickered upon his ruffled feathers the turkey emitted a throaty grunt of disapproval and moved cumbrously around to avoid the light.
Uncle Noah addressed him with great firmness. “Now see yere, Massa Job,” he said, “tain’t no use yoh puttin’ on yoh high and mighty airs to-night. I’se come to interview yoh, sah! Understand?”
Job majestically tucked his head beneath his wing as if to intimate his indifference to the proposed interview.
Uncle Noah surveyed his ruffled back feathers with increased respect. “So,” he said, “yoh refuse me an interview, Massa Job Fairfax. Yoh is sleepy, sah, dat’s whut’s got into yoh.” He stroked the turkey with a gentle hand, and, Job, resenting the indignity, withdrew his head from the sheltering wing and pecked at the brown fingers, turning around with a stately movement and facing the light once more with a sleepy blink of his bright, beadlike eyes.
“Now, sah, we can talk,” exclaimed the negro in delight. Drawing up an old box he seated himself before the roost and beamed benevolently over his glasses.
“Colonel done say yoh gobble under de winder ’bout suppertime,” he began confidentially. “When ol’ Mis’ cry ’bout young Massa Dick de Colonel he jus’ gotta scold ‘bout sumthin’, and as yoh is de mos’ important person about he jus’ naturally selects yoh.”
The turkey held his head upon one side, apparently in critical admiration of the darky’s quaint old scarfpin which resembled a grain of corn mounted on a needle.
Uncle Noah, who had always had a faint mistrust of Job’s attitude toward this ancient Ethiopian heirloom, promptly removed it to a place of safety. Then with a sudden resolve that no thought of the coming tragedy should mar his last visit with his old companion he rose and sought a dim, cobwebby corner of the barn, whence he returned with a box.
“Dese yere, Job,” he explained, “is de flowers whut young Massa Dick have sent to his mother ebery holiday since he done went away from yere. Mornin’, I specs, when de Colonel sees ’em at her plate, he’ll declare yoh gobblin’ sumthin’ fierce under de winder again; he always do.”
The old negro broke the string of the box and removed a glowing mass of purple orchids—odd, transient tenants of the crazy old barn. Job suddenly reached over and pecked a blossom from its stem, ate the heart with the dainty air of an epicure, and discarded the remainder with a noise akin to a gobble of disgust.