The next morning after the adventure in the barn, Hiram went down as usual after his morning’s work was done to see Mandy.
“How do you find things, Mandy?” said Hiram, opening the kitchen door and putting his head in.
“By looking for them,” said Mandy, without looking up from her work.
“You are awful smart, ain’t you?” retorted Hiram.
Mandy replied, “People’s opinion that I think a good deal more of than yours have said that same thing, Mr. Maxwell.”
Hiram saw that he was worsted, so he changed the conversation.
“Anybody to hum?”
Mandy answered sharply, “Everybody’s out but me, of course I am nobody.”
Hiram came in and closed the door.
“You needn’t be so pesky smart with your tongue, Mandy. Of course I can’t keep up with you and you know it. What’s up?”
Mandy replied, “The thermometer. It isn’t nearly as cold as it was yesterday.”
Hiram, seeing a breakfast apparently laid out on a side table inquired, “Expectin’ somebody to breakfast?”
“No,” said Mandy, “I got that ready for Mr. Pettengill, but he didn’t have time to eat it because he was afraid he would lose the train.”
“Has he gone to the city?” asked Hiram.
“I ’spect he has,” answered Mandy.
“Well,” remarked Hiram, “s’posin’ I eat that breakfast myself, so as to save you the trouble of throwin’ it away.”
“Well,” said Mandy, “I was going to give it to the pigs; I suppose one hog might as well have it as another.”
Hiram said, “Why, you don’t call me a big eater, do you, Mandy?”
Mandy laughed and said, “I can’t tell, I never saw you when you wasn’t hungry. How do you know when you have got enough?”
Hiram said, “I haven’t got but one way of tellin’, I allus eats till it hurts me, then I stop while the pain lasts.”
Then he asked Mandy, “What did ’Zekiel go to the city for?”
Mandy answered, “Mr. Pettengill does not confide his private business to me.”
Hiram broke in, “I bet a dollar you know why he went, just the same.”
Mandy said, “I bet a dollar I do.”
Then she broke into a loud laugh. Hiram evidently thought it was very funny and laughed until the tears stood in his eyes.
“What are you laughing for?” asked Mandy.
Hiram’s countenance fell.
“Come down to the fine point, Mandy, durned if I know.”
“That’s a great trick of yours, Hiram,” said Mandy. “You ought not to laugh at anything unless you understand it.”
“I guess I wouldn’t laugh much then,” said Hiram. “I allus laugh when I don’t understand anythin’, so folks won’t think that I don’t know where the p’int domes in. But say, Mandy, what did Pettengill go to the city for?”
During this conversation Hiram had been eating the breakfast that had been prepared for Ezekiel. Mandy sat down near him and said, “I’ll tell you, but it ain’t nothing to laugh at. Mr. Pettengill had a telegraph message come last night.”