“Yes, that was it!” said Mrs. Chirk. “He was lookin’ out of the window and pumpin’ at the same time, an’ spoutin’ them verses too. And all of a sudden he cries out, ‘Ther’s the brood of dark My Hen, scratchin’ up the sweet peas. Upon them with the lance!’ And he lets go the pump-handle, and it flies up and hits the shelf and knocks off two plates and a cup, and Bubble, he’s off with the mop-handle, chasin’ the old black hen and makin’ believe run her through, till she e’enamost died of fright. Well, there, it give me a turn; it reelly did!” She paused rather sadly, seeing that her hearers were both overcome with laughter.
“I—I am very sorry, Mrs. Chirk, that the plates were broken,” said Hilda; “but it must have been extremely funny. Poor old hen! she must have been frightened, certainly. Do you know,” she added, “I think Bubble is a remarkably bright boy. I am very sure that he will make a name for himself, if only he can have proper training.”
“Presume likely!” said Mrs. Chirk, with melancholy satisfaction. “His father was a real smart man. There warn’t no better hayin’ hand in the county than Loammi Chirk. And I’m in hopes Zerubbabel will do as well, for he has a good friend in Farmer Hartley; no boy couldn’t have a better.”
Eminence in the profession of “haying” was not precisely what Hilda had meant; but she said nothing.
“And my poor girl here,” Mrs. Chirk continued after a pause, “she sets in her cheer hay-times and other times. You’ve heard of her misfortune, Miss Graham?”
Pink interposed quickly with a little laugh, though her brows contracted slightly, as if with pain. “Oh, yes, Mother dear!” she said; “Miss Graham has heard all about me, and knows what a very important person I am. But where is the yarn that I was to wind for you? I thought you wanted to begin weaving this afternoon.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Hildegarde. “Never mind the yarn just now, Pink! I want to give you a little ride before I go back to the farm. May she go, Mrs. Chirk? It is such a beautiful day, I am sure the air will do her good. Would you like it, Pink?”
Pink looked up with a flush of pleasure on her pale cheek. “Oh,” she said, “would I like it! But it’s too much for you to do, Miss Graham.”
“An’ with that beautiful dress on too!” cried Mrs. Chirk. “You’d get it dusty on the wheel, I’m afraid. I don’t think—”
“Oh yes, you do!” cried Hilda, gayly, pushing the chair towards the door. “Bring her hat, please, Mrs. Chirk. I always have my own way!” she added, with a touch of the old imperiousness, “and I have quite set my heart on this.”