“I don’t know,” replied the Squire. “About three weeks ago she sent for me and cut out the ninety-day restriction and named our young friend here as co-executor with myself.”
Alice remained silent, while a look of astonishment crept into Quincy’s face.
“I do not quite comprehend her reason for making this change,” remarked Quincy.
“Mrs. Putnam was a very far-seeing lady,” said the Squire, with a laugh, looking first at Alice and then at Quincy.
A slight flush mounted to Alice’s cheeks, and Quincy said coolly, “I do not perceive the application of your remark.”
“Easy enough,” said the Squire, seeing that he had put his foot in it, and that it was necessary to explain his false step in some way; “easy enough. I have had sole charge of her property for six years, and she wished some cool-headed business man to go over my accounts and see if I had been honest in my dealings with her.”
“That way of stating the case is satisfactory,” said Quincy, a little more genially.
“I don’t think I am in danger of being robbed with two such trusty guardians,” said Alice.
Then all three laughed, and the little rift was closed. But the Squire’s words had not been unheeded and two hearts were busily thinking and wondering if he had really meant what he said.
The Squire then turned to Quincy. “If you will name a day we will go over to the county town, present the will for probate, and at any time thereafter my books will be ready for inspection.”
Quincy named the following Wednesday, and then both men congratulated Miss Pettengill on her good fortune, bade her good morning, and then started to go to the store.
As they passed through the kitchen Mandy was not in sight. She evidently did not intend to have a second interview with the Squire.
When they reached the store they found Strout and Hiram and Mr. Hill and his son already there. The business with Mr. Hill was soon concluded, and he delivered the keys of the property to Squire Rundlett; then the co-partnership papers were duly signed and witnessed, and then the Squire passed the keys to Mr. Obadiah Strout, the senior partner of the new firm of Strout & Maxwell, who formally took possession of the property in his own name and that of his partners.
Since Abner’s curt declination of a position in the store, Strout had been looking around for some one to take his place, and had finally settled upon William Ricker, or, as he was generally called, Billy Ricker, a popular young resident of Montrose, as it was thought he could control a great deal of trade in that town.
For a similar reason, Quincy and Hiram had united in choosing young Abbott Smith, who was known by everybody in Eastborough Centre and West Eastborough. Abbott had grown tired of driving the hotel carriage and wished to engage in some permanent business.
The choice was naturally not particularly palatable to Strout, but he had consented to let bygones be bygones and could offer no valid objection. These two young men were to report for duty that Saturday evening, and the close of that day’s business terminated Benoni and Samuel Hill’s connection with the grocery store.