“What are you goin’ to do with it?” asked Betsy. “’Twon’t keep till to-morrer mornin’.”
“I’m goin’ to eat it myself,” said Mrs. Hawkins. And suiting the action to the word, she transferred the appetizing breakfast to the kitchen table, and, taking a seat, began to devour it.
“Have you seen your sister, Samanthy, lately?” she asked.
“I was up there Sunday evening,” replied Betsy, “and she said Mis’ Putnam was failin’ very fast. She keeps her bed all the time now, and Samanthy has to run up and down stairs, ’bout forty times a day. She won’t let Miss Lindy do a thing for her.”
“Well, if I was Lindy,” said Mrs. Hawkins, “I wouldn’t do anything for her if she wanted me to. She used to abuse that child shamefully. Is Miss Lindy goin’ to keep house arter her mother dies?”
“No,” said Betsy, “she’s got her things all packed up, and she told Samanthy she should leave town for well and good as soon as her mother was buried.”
“I don’t blame her,” exclaimed Mrs. Hawkins. “Where’s Samanthy goin’?”
“Oh, she says she wants to rest awhile afore she goes anywheres else to live. She’s all run down.”
“P’r’aps she’ll go and stay with yer mother for a while.”
“No,” said Betsy, “she won’t go there.”
“Ain’t yer mother ‘n’ her on good terms?”
“Oh, yes,” replied Betsy, “but the four boys send mother five dollars a month apiece, and us girls give her two dollars a month apiece, and it’s understood that none of us is to go and loaf ’round at home, ’less we pay our board.”
“That’s all right,” said Mrs. Hawkins. “You can tell Samanthy for me that she can come here and stay a couple o’ weeks with you. Your bed’s big enough for two, and I won’t charge her no board if she’s willin’ to wait on table at dinner time. You’ll get the benefit of it, ye know, Betsy, for you kin get the dinner dishes done so much earlier.”
“That’s very kind of you, Mrs. Hawkins,” said Betsy, and the conversation lapsed for a moment till she inquired, “Will your daughter Mandy stay with Mr. Pettengill arter he marries Huldy Mason?”
“I don’t know,” replied Mrs. Hawkins. “Mandy says that Hiram Maxwell is the biggest fool of a man she ever saw.”
“Then she must think a good deal of him,” laughed Betsy.
“Wall, I fancy she does,” replied Mrs. Hawkins; “and I’ve no objections to him, seein’ as that Mr. Sawyer is goin’ to put him inter the grocery store and back him up. But Mandy says that he won’t come to the pi’nt. He hints and hints and wobbles all ’round the question, but he don’t ask her to marry him right out and out. Mandy says she won’t gin in until he does, for if she does, she says he’ll be chuckin’ it at her one of these days that he didn’t ask her to marry him and be sayin’ as how she threw herself at him, but there’s too much of the old Job Skinner spirit in Mandy for her to do anythin’ like that.”