“Yis, I see,” said Abner; “but that leaves one fer you to pick, and I’m ready to be picked.”
“Yes, I know,” answered Strout; “but the work is goin’ to be very hard, liftin’ barrels and big boxes, and I’m afraid you couldn’t stand it very long.”
A disappointed look came over Abner’s face; he mused for a moment, then he broke out, “Yes, I see; I’m all right for light work, sech as tellin’ lies ‘bout people and spyin’ out their actions, and makin’ believe I’ve seen things that I never heard of, and hearin’ things that were never said; but when it comes to good, clean, honest work, like liftin’ barrels and rollin’ hogshead’s, the other feller gets the job. All right, Professor!” said he, getting up and walking towards the door; “when you want anythin’ in my line, let me know.” And he went out and slammed the door behind him.
As he went upstairs to his room, he said to himself, “I have sorter got the opinion that the Professor took what wuz given him, instid of gittin’ what he asked fer. I kinder guess that it’ll pay me to be much more partickler about number one in the futer than I’ve been.”
Deacon Mason had an early caller Wednesday morning. He was out in the barn polishing up his silver-plated harness, for he was going to the funeral on Friday with his family. Hiram had given him notice that he would have to go up to the store at once. The Deacon didn’t have anybody in mind to take Hiram’s place, and thought he might as well get used to doing his own work until he came across the right party.
He heard a voice. It said, “Good mornin’, Deacon Mason;” and, looking up, he saw Abner Stiles standing before him.
“Good mornin’, Abner,” answered the Deacon, pleasantly; “what does the Professor want?”
“I don’t know,” said Abner; “I heerd that Hiram was goin’ to leave yer, so I came ’round to see if yer wanted ter hire a man.”
“Do yer know of one?” asked the Deacon with a smile.
“That’s all right, Deacon,” said Abner. “I don’t blame yer fer havin’ yer little joke. I’ve worked so long fer the Professor that I expect to have it flung up at me. But I’ve renounced the Evil One and all his wicked ways, and I want to be taken into a good Christian home, and eventooally jine the church.”
“While the lamp holds
out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return,”
quoted the Deacon, as he hung up one piece of harness and took down another.
“That’s true as Gospel,” said Abner; “and I hope you’ll see it’s your duty, as I’ve heerd Parson Howe say, to save the brand from the burnin’.”
“Well, you go in and talk to Mrs. Mason,” said the Deacon; “she’s the one that wants the work done, and if she’s satisfied to give yer a trial, it’s all the same to me.”
“Thank yer, Deacon,” answered Abner. “There’s one p’int in my favor, Deacon; I hain’t got no girl, and I sha’n’t take any of your time to go courtin’;” and with this sly dig at Hiram, he went in to settle his fate with the Deacon’s wife.