“You might add,” said Alice, “firmness in debate, for none of us like to own up that we are beaten. I remember years ago Uncle Ike and I had a long discussion as to whether it were better to be stone blind or stone deaf. I took the ground that it was better to be blind, for one could hear music and listen to the voices of friends, and hear the sound of approaching danger, and then, besides, everybody is so kind to a person who is blind. But you see Uncle Ike don’t care for music, and had rather talk himself than listen, so he decided that it was best to be stone deaf, for then he could read and write to his friends. But of course neither of us gave in, and the question, so far as we are concerned, is still unsettled.”
At that moment the sound of a team was heard, and a few minutes later Uncle Ike came upstairs, followed by the driver of the team bearing a big basket and a large bundle. These contained Uncle Ike’s purchases.
“Wait a minute and I will go upstairs with you,” called out Uncle Ike to the man. He entered the room, and looking somewhat surprised at seeing Quincy, he said somewhat sharply, “So you two have got acquainted, have you? I have been waiting for two days to introduce you.”
“I am greatly indebted to Mr. Sawyer,” said Alice. “When he passed my door, which was open, I thought it was you and I started forward to meet you, but I missed my way and was walking directly towards the fire, when Mr. Sawyer interposed.”
“I should have done the same thing had it been me,” said Uncle Ike. “So I don’t see as you were in any real danger.”
Quincy thought that it was noticeably evident that the Pettengills were noted for plainness of speech.
“Here are three letters for you, Alice, and here is one for you, Mr. Sawyer. I thought I would bring it over to you as I met Asa Waters down to the post office and he said you’d started for home. I’ll be down in a few minutes, Alice, and read your letters for you.” And Uncle Ike showed the man the way up to his domicile.
Quincy arose, expressed his pleasure at having met Miss Pettengill, and presuming they would meet again at dinner, took his leave.
The letter was from Quincy’s father. It was short, but was long enough to cause Quincy to smother an oath, crush the letter in his hands and throw it into the open fire. The flames touched it, and the strong draught took it still ablaze up the wide-mouthed chimney.
But Quincy’s unpleasant thought did not go with it. The letter had said, “Quinnebaug stock has dropped off five points. Foss & Follansbee have written Miss Putnam that she must put up five thousand dollars to cover margin. Better see her at once and tell her the drop is only temporary, and the stock is sure to recover.”
Quincy sat down in his easy-chair, facing the fire, upon which he put some more wood, which snapped and crackled.