Jane’s voice, in this impersonation, became sufficiently soft and tremulous to give Mrs. Baxter a fair idea of the tender yearning of the original. “‘Oh, my baby-talk lady!’” cooed the terrible Jane.
“Mercy!” Mrs. Baxter exclaimed. “Perhaps it’s no wonder Mr. Parcher—” She broke off abruptly, then inquired, “What did he do next, Jane?”
“Next,” said Jane, “he put the light out, an’ I had to—well, I just waited kind of squeeged up against the wall, an’ he never saw me. He went on out to the back stairs, an’ went down the stairs tiptoe, mamma. You know what I think, mamma? I think he goes out that way an’ through the kitchen on account of papa’s clo’es.”
Mrs. Baxter paused, with her hand upon the key of the shaded electric lamp. “I suppose so,” she said. “I think perhaps—” For a moment or two she wrapped herself in thought. “Perhaps”—she repeated, musingly—“perhaps we’ll keep this just a secret between you and me for a little while, Jane, and not say anything to papa about the clothes. I don’t think it will hurt them, and I suppose Willie feels they give him a great advantage over the other boys—and papa uses them so very little, especially since he’s grown a wee bit stouter. Yes, it will be our secret, Jane. We’ll think it over till to-morrow.”
Mrs. Baxter turned out the light, then came and kissed Jane in the dark. “Good night, dear.”
“G’ night, mamma.” But as Mrs. Baxter reached the door Jane’s voice was heard again.
“Yes?” Mrs. Baxter paused.
“Mamma,” Jane said, slowly, “I think—I think Mr. Parcher is a very nice man. Mamma?”
“Mamma, what do you s’pose Willie barked at the lookin’-glass for?”
“That,” said Mrs. Baxter, “is beyond me. Young people and children do the strangest things, Jane! And then, when they get to be middle-aged, they forget all those strange things they did, and they can’t understand what the new young people—like you and Willie mean by the strange things they do.”
“Yes’m. I bet I know what he was barkin’ for, mamma.”
“You know what I think? I think he was kind of practisin’. I think he was practisin’ how to bark at Mr. Parcher.”
“No, no!” Mrs. Baxter laughed. “Who ever could think of such a thing but you, Jane! You go to sleep and forget your nonsense!”
Nevertheless, Jane might almost have been gifted with clairvoyance, her preposterous idea came so close to the actual fact, for at that very moment William was barking. He was not barking directly at Mr. Parcher, it is true, but within a short distance of him and all too well within his hearing.
MR. PARCHER AND LOVE