When Quincy awoke in his room at the hotel on the morning after the accident he found to his great surprise that it was nine o’clock. He arose and dressed quickly, and after a light breakfast started off towards Uncle Ike’s. Reaching the house he was astonished at the sight that met his gaze. Everything was out of place. The bed was down and the bedding tied up in bundles; the books had been taken from the bookcase and had been piled up on the table. There was no fire in the stove, and the funnel was laid upon the top of it. Quincy had remembered that he had seen a pile of soot on the ground near the steps as he came up them. All of Uncle Ike’s cooking utensils were packed in a soap box which stood near the stove.
“What’s the matter, Mr. Pettengill, are you going to move?” asked Quincy.
“For a time at least,” replied Uncle Ike. “’Zeke Pettengill’s sister has been struck blind and he is going to bring her down home this afternoon and I am going to live with them and be company for her. I always thought as much of Alice as if she was my own daughter, and now she is in trouble, her old uncle isn’t going back on her. It isn’t Ike Pettengill’s way.”
“Have you seen ’Zekiel Pettengill this morning?” asked Quincy.
“No, nor I didn’t expect to,” replied Uncle Ike. “I suppose he went to Boston on the nine o’clock train and will be back on the three o’clock express.”
“Mr. Pettengill,” said Quincy, “can you give me fifteen minutes’ time for a talk?”
“Well,” said Uncle Ike, looking at his watch, “it will be half an hour before Cobb’s twins will be down here with the team, and I might as well listen to you as sit around and do nothing. They are coming down again by and by to get the chickens. I have a good mind to set the house on fire and burn it up. If I don’t, I suppose some tramp will, and if I need another house like it, thank the Lord I’ve got money enough to build it.”
“No, don’t burn it up, Mr. Pettengill,” said Quincy. “Let it to me. I am around looking for a boarding place myself.”
“Why, what’s the matter, what made you leave Deacon Mason’s?”
“That’s what I want to tell you,” said Quincy. “Time is limited and I’ll make my story short, but you are a friend of my father’s, and I want you to understand the whole business.”
“Why, what have you been up to?” asked Uncle Ike, opening his eyes.
“Nothing,” said Quincy, “and that’s the trouble. When I went to Deacon Mason’s nobody told me that his daughter was engaged to Ezekiel Pettengill.”
“And she isn’t,” interjected Uncle Ike.
“Well,” said Quincy, “they have been keeping company together, but I didn’t know it. Miss Mason is a pretty girl and a very pleasant one. Time hung heavily on my hands and I naturally paid her some attentions; gave her flowers and candy, and took her out to ride, but I never thought of falling in love with her, and I am not conceited enough to think she is in love with me.”