The Professor had fidgeted, fumed, and fussed during Quincy’s occupancy of the platform. He now arose with feelings impossible to express and took up his baton to lead the closing chorus. He brought it down with such a whack upon the music stand that it careened, tottered, and fell to the platform with a crash. Tilly James leaned over and whispered to Huldy Mason: “The Professor seems to have a bad attack of Quincy, too.” And the two girls smothered their laughs in their handkerchiefs. If the singing society had not been so well acquainted with the closing chorus the Professor certainly would have thrown them out by his many mistakes in beating time. The piece was a “sleighride” song. The Professor forgot to give the signal for the ringing of the sleigh bells, but the members of the singing society did not, and their introduction, which was unexpected by the audience, to use a theatrical term, “brought down the house.” The number was well rendered, despite the manifest defects in leadership. The concert came to a close.
Deacon Mason and his wife, accompanied by their daughter, Huldy, and Rev. Mr. Howe, occupied a double sleigh, as did Hiram, Mandy, and Cobb’s twins. Another double-seated conveyance contained Mr. and Mrs. Benoni Hill, their son, Samuel, and Miss Tilly James. Quincy also had accommodations for four in his sleigh, but its only occupants were Miss Putnam and himself. Abner Stiles sat on the front seat of another double-seated sleigh, while the Professor and Ezekiel were on the back one; the remainder of the Mason’s Corner folks occupied the big barge which had been used for the sleigh ride the night before.
The barge led the procession to Mason’s Corner, followed by the vehicles previously mentioned and scores of others containing residents of Mason’s Corner, whose names and faces are alike unknown. By a strange fatality, the sleigh containing the Professor and Ezekiel was the last in the line. Ezekiel was inwardly elated that Mr. Sawyer had gone home with Lindy instead of with Deacon Mason’s party. Strout’s bosom held no feelings of elation. He did not seem to care whether the concert was considered a success or not. He had but one thought in his mind, and that was the “daring impudence of that city feller.” Turning to Ezekiel, he said:
[Illustration: “The barge led the procession to mason’s corner.”]
“I’ll get even with that city chap the next time I meet him. As I said last night, Pettengill, this town ain’t big enough to ’hold both on us and one on us has got to git.”
As he said this, he leaned back in the sleigh and puffed his cigar savagely while Ezekiel was wondering if Huldy was thinking half as much about him as he was about her.
Ancestry versus patriotism.
Four days had passed since the concert in the Town Hall at Eastborough. The events of that evening had been freely discussed in barn and workshop, at table and at the various stores in Eastborough and surrounding towns, for quite a number had been present who were not residents of the town. All interest in it had not, however, passed away as subsequent occurrences proved.