“What d’ye think of that pome ’bout the bumblebee?” drawled Abner.
“Oh, that was a put-up job,” said Strout.
“How could that be?” asked Abner, “when you took it out of your own box?”
“Well,” rejoined Strout, “he’ll find I’m the wustest kind of a bumblebee if he stirs me up much more. When my dander’s up a hornet’s nest ain’t a patch to me.”
“I kinder fancied,” continued Abner, “that the reason he had them fancy boxes sent down was because he sorter thought our pound packages would be rather ornary.”
“I guess you’ve hit it ’bout right,” remarked Strout; “them city swells would cheat their tailor so as to make a splurge and show how much money they’ve got. I guess he thought as how I’d never seen ice cream, but I showed him I knew all about it. I eat three sasserful myself.”
“I beat you on that,” said Abner; “I eat a sasserful of each kind.”
As Abner finished speaking he emptied his glass and then reached forward for the bottle in order to replenish it. Strout’s glass was also empty, and being much nearer to the bottle than Abner was, he had it in his possession before Abner could reach it. When he put it down again it was beyond his companion’s reach. Abner turned some molasses into has tumbler, and then said, “Don’t you think ’twas purty plucky of that city feller to come to our party to-night?”
“No, I don’t,” said Strout, “he jest sneaked in with ’Zeke Pettengill and his sister. He’ll find out that I’m no slouch here in Eastborough. When I marry the Deacon’s daughter and git the Deacon’s money, and am elected tax collector agin, and buy the grocery store, and I’m app’inted postmaster at Mason’s Corner, he’ll diskiver that it’s harder fightin’ facts like them than it is Bob Wood’s fists. I kinder reckon there won’t be anybody that won’t take off their hats to me, and there won’t be any doubts as to who runs this ’ere town. That city feller’s health will improve right off, and he’ll go up to Boston a wiser man than when he come down.”
“That’s so,” remarked Abner; and as he spoke he stood up as if to emphasize his words. Before he sat down, however, he reached across the table for the bottle, but again Strout was too quick for him.
“I was only goin’ to drink yer health an’ success to yer,” said Abner.
“All right,” said Strout, “make it half a glass and I’ll jine yer.”
The two men clinked their glasses, drank, and smacked their lips.
“If you don’t go to bed now you won’t git up till to-morrer,” said the Professor.
“Yer mean ter-day,” chuckled Abner, as he got up and walked ’round to the other side of the table, where he had left his lamp.
“I guess,” remarked Strout, “I’ll have some more fire. I ain’t goin’ to bed jest yet. I’ve got some heavy thinkin’ to do.”
While he was upon his knees arranging the wood, starting up the embers with the bellows, Abner reached across the table and got possession of his tumbler, from which he had fortunately removed the spoon. Grasping the bottle he filled it to the brim and tossed it down in three big swallows. As he replaced the tumbler on the table, Strout turned round.