Raising her hands high in the air, Mrs. Crowley said, “Bless you, my darlints; may yer live long and may all the saints pour blessin’s on yer hids.”
And with this invocation the poor old woman hobbled off to her room in the ell and was not seen again until the next morning.
The next day was Saturday. While the Pettengill family was at breakfast, Squire Rundlett arrived. He had driven over from Montrose with the partnership papers for Strout, Hiram, and Quincy to sign and also the will of the late Mrs. Hepsibeth Putnam.
As he came into the kitchen he espied Mandy, and a broad smile spread over his face as he said, “Good morning, Miss Skinner, was that paper all right?” Mandy flushed scarlet but said nothing. “Honestly, Miss Skinner,” said the Squire, “I think it was a very sensible act on Hiram’s part. If men were obliged to put their proposals in writing there wouldn’t be any more breach of promise cases.”
“I think he was a big goose,” finally ejaculated Mandy, laughing in spite of herself.
“At any rate,” continued the Squire, “he knew how to pick out a smart, pretty little woman for a wife;” and he raised his hat politely and passed into the dining-room.
Here he was asked to have some breakfast. He accepted a cup of coffee, and, while drinking it, informed Quincy and Alice of the twofold purpose of his visit.
Quincy led Alice into the parlor, the Squire accompanying them. Quincy then retired, saying he would join the Squire in a short time and ride up to the store with him.
When they were alone, the Squire informed Alice that by the terms of Mrs. Putnam’s last will she had been left sole heiress of all the real and personal property of the deceased. The dwelling house and farm were worth fully ten thousand dollars, while the bonds, stocks, and other securities, of which he had had charge for many years, were worth at least forty thousand more. For several years Mrs. Putnam’s income had been about twenty-five hundred dollars a year.
“It was very kind of her to leave it to me,” said Alice; “I have never done anything to deserve it and I would not take it were it not that I understand there are no near relatives, and that Miss Lindy Putnam was amply provided for by her brother.”
There was a knock upon the door, and Quincy looked in.
“Come in, Mr. Sawyer,” said the Squire. “I have an important bit of news for you that concerns this young lady.”
Quincy did as requested and stood expectantly.
The Squire went on: “Mrs. Putnam’s old will, made some six years ago, gave all the property to Miss Pettengill, but provided that its provisions should be kept secret for ninety days. In that will I was named as sole executor.”
“Why did she change it?” asked Alice earnestly.