“Hut! tut!” said Farmer Hartley, looking up from his paper with a smile. “What’s all this? Are ye keepin’ all the jokes to yerself, Huldy?”
“It is only my letter that is so funny,” replied Hilda. “I don’t believe it would seem so funny to you, Farmer Hartley, because you don’t know the writer. But have you finished your paper, and are you ready for Robin Hood?”
“Wal, I am, Huldy!” said the good farmer, laying aside his paper and rubbing his hands with an air of pleasurable anticipation. “’Pears to me we left that good-lookin’ singin’ chap—what was his name?”
“Allan-a-Dale!” said Hilda, smiling.
“Ah!” said the farmer; “Allan-a-Dale. ’Pears to me we left him in rayther a ticklish situation.”
“Oh, but it comes out all right!” cried Hilda, joyously, rising to fetch the good brown book which she loved. “You will see in the next chapter how delightfully Robin gets him out of the difficulty.” She ran and brought the book and drew her chair up to the table, and all three prepared for an hour of solid enjoyment. “But before I begin,” she said, “I want you to promise, Farmer Hartley, to take me with you the next time you go to the village. I must buy a hat for Pink Chirk.”
THE OLD CAPTAIN.
“Let—me—see!” said Farmer Hartley, as he gathered up the reins and turned old Nancy’s head towards the village, while Hildegarde, on the seat beside him, turned back to wave a merry farewell to Nurse Lucy, who stood smiling in the porch. “Let—me—see! Hev you ben off the farm before, Huldy, sence you kem here?”
“Not once!” replied Hilda, cheerily. “And I don’t believe I should be going now, Farmer Hartley, if it were not for Pink’s hat. I promised myself that she should not wear that ugly straw sun-bonnet again. I wonder why anything so hideous was ever invented.”
“A straw bunnit, do ye mean?” said the farmer; “somethin’ like a long sugar-scoop, or a tunnel like?”
“Yes, just that!” said Hilda; “and coming down over her poor dear eyes so that she cannot see anything, except for a few inches straight before her.”
“Wal!” said the farmer, meditatively, “I remember when them bunnits was considered reel hahnsome. Marm Lucy had one when she was a gal; I mind it right well. A white straw it was, with blue ribbons on top of it. It come close round her pooty face, an’ I used to hev to sidle along and get round in front of her before I could get a look at her. I hed rayther a grudge agin the bunnit on that account; but I supposed it was hahnsome, as everybody said so. I never see a bunnit o’ that kind,” he continued, “without thinkin’ o’ Mis’ Meeker an’ ’Melia Tyson. I swan! it makes me laugh now to think of ’em.”
“Who were they?” asked Hildegarde, eagerly, for she delighted in the farmer’s stories. “Please tell me about them!”