“I’ve just thought,” said he, “that I’ve made a big blunder and I can’t see how I can repair it.”
“What’s the matter?” asked ’Zekiel; and Alice turned an inquiring face towards Quincy.
“The fact is,” Quincy continued, “I ordered some ice cream and cake sent down from the city for the show to-night, but I forgot, I am ashamed to say, to make arrangements to have it sent up to Deacon Mason’s. It will be directed to him, but the station agent won’t be likely to send it up before to-morrow.”
“What time is it?” asked ’Zekiel.
Quincy looked at his watch and replied, “It is just half-past four.”
“Why do we go so early?” inquired Alice, “they will not have tea till six.”
“Oh,” said ’Zekiel, “I intended to give you a sleigh ride first anyway. Now with this pair of trotters I am going to take you over to Eastborough Centre and have you back at Deacon Mason’s barn door in just one hour and with appetites that it will take two suppers to satisfy.”
With this ’Zekiel whipped up his horses and they dashed off towards the town. A short distance beyond Uncle Ike’s chicken coop they met Abner Stiles driving home from the Centre. He nodded to ’Zekiel, but Quincy did not notice him, being engaged in conversation with Alice at the time. They reached the station, and Quincy gave orders to have the material sent up, so that it would arrive at about half-past nine. ’Zekiel more than kept his promise, for they reached Deacon Mason’s barn at exactly twenty-nine minutes past five. Hiram was on hand to put up the horses, and told Quincy in a whisper that some of the boys thought it was mighty mean not to invite the Pettengill folks and their boarder.
The sharp air had whetted the appetites of the travellers during their six-mile ride, and they did full justice to the nicely-cooked food that the Deacon’s wife placed before them. Supper was over at quarter before seven, and in half an hour the dishes were washed and put away and the quartette of young folks adjourned to the parlor.
Quincy took his seat at the piano and began playing a popular air.
“Oh, let us sing something,” cried Huldy. “You know I have been taking lessons from Professor Strout, and he says I have improved greatly. If he says it you know it must be so; and, did you know Alice, that ’Zekiel has a fine baritone voice?”
“We used to sing a good deal together,” said Alice, “but I was no judge of voices then.”
“Well, ’Zeke don’t know a note of music,” continued Huldy, “but he has a quick ear and he seems to know naturally just how to use his voice.”
“Oh, nonsense,” said ’Zekiel, “I don’t know how to sing, I only hum a little. Sing us something, Mr. Sawyer,” said he.
Quincy sang a song very popular at the time, entitled “The Jockey Hat and Feather.” All four joined in the chorus, and at the close the room rang with laughter. Quincy then struck up another popular air, “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and this was sung by the four with great gusto. Then he looked over the music on the top of the piano, which was a Bourne & Leavitt square, and found a copy of the cantata entitled, “The Haymakers,” and for half an hour the solos and choruses rang through the house and out upon the evening air.