“If I do,” replied the Professor, “you bet he won’t be one of the performers.”
“Oh, I see,” said Mandy, “you’re mad with him ’cause he hogged the whole show. Mr. Maxwell was just telling me as how Mr. Sawyer was going to hire the Town Hall on Washington’s birthday and bring down a big brass band from Boston and give a concert that would put you in the shade, and somebody was telling me, I forget who, that Mr. Sawyer don’t like to sit ‘round doing nothin’, and he’s goin’ to give music lessons.”
These last two untruthful shots hit the mark, as she knew they would, and Strout, abandoning the subject, blurted out, “Where in thunder’s that Hiram? I’ll be blowed if I don’t believe he went to look for the eggs first.”
“I reckon he did,” said Mandy, “if he means to keep on good terms with me. He ain’t likely to tend to stray jobs till he’s done up his regular chores.”
“I s’pose Deacon Mason sends him down here to wait on you?” remarked Strout with a sneer.
“Did Deacon Mason tell you that you could have him to run your errands?” inquired Mandy, with a pout.
“Guess the best thing I can do,” said Strout rising, “is to go hunt Pettengill up myself.”
“I guess you’ve struck it right this time,” assented Mandy, as Strout left the room and started for the wood-shed.
As he closed the door, Mandy resumed her singing as though such conversations were of everyday occurrence.
She finished her work at the sink and was fixing the kitchen fire when Hiram returned.
“All I could find,” said he, holding an egg in each hand. “The hens must have struck or think it’s a holiday. S’pose there’s any out in the barn? Come, let’s go look, Mandy. Where’s old Strout?”
“I guess he’s gone to look for Mr. Pettengill,” replied Mandy, with a laugh.
“I kinder thought he would if I stayed long enough,” said Hiram, with a grin; “but come along, Mandy, no hen fruit, no puddin’.”
“Mr. Maxwell,” said Mandy, soberly, “I wish you’d be more particular about your language. You know I abominate slang. You know how careful I try to be.”
“You’re a dandy,” said Hiram, taking her hand.
They ran as far as the wood-shed, when seeing the door open, they hid behind it until Strout came out and walked down towards the lane to meet Ezekiel, whom he had seen coming up from the road. Then Hiram and Mandy sped on their way to the barn, which they quickly reached and were soon upon the haymow, apparently searching intently for eggs.
When Strout reached Ezekiel he shook hands with him and said, “Come up to the barn, Pettengill, I’ve got a little somethin’ I want to tell you and it’s kinder private. It’s about that city feller that’s swellin’ round here puttin’ on airs and tryin’ to make us think that his father is a bigger man than George Washington. He about the same as told me down to the grocery store that the blood of all the Quincys flowed in one arm and the blood of all the Adams in the other, but I kinder guess that the rest of his carcass is full of calf’s blood and there’s more fuss and feathers than fight to him.”