“Si Beesley? Spare rib, dear?” was his disappointing but hospitable, answer in two return questions to my anxious inquiries about the Pan who had come out of the woods at my need.
“No; I mean—mean, didn’t you call him Adam?”
“Nobody knows. Now, William, a spare rib and a muffin is real nourishment after the nightingale’s tongues and snails you’ve been living on for twenty-odd years, isn’t it?” As he spoke Uncle Cradd beamed on father, who was eating with the first show of real pleasure in food since we had had to send Henri back to New York, after the crash, weeping with all his French-cook soul at leaving us after fifteen years’ service.
“I have always enjoyed that essay of Charles Lamb’s on roast pig, Cradd,” answered father as he took a second muffin. “I know that Lamb used to bore you, Cradd, but honestly now, doesn’t his materialism seem—”
“Oh, Uncle Cradd, please tell me about that Adam man before you and father disappear into the eighteenth century,” I pleaded, as I handed two cups of steaming coffee to Rufus to pass my two elderly savants.
“There is nothing to tell, Nancy child,” answered Uncle Cradd, with an indulgent smile as he peered at me over his glasses. “Upon my word, William, Nancy is the living image of mother when we first remember her, isn’t she? You are very beautiful, my dear.”
“I know it,” I answered hurriedly and hardly aware of what I was saying; “but I want to know where he came from, please, Uncle Cradd.”
“Well, as near as I can remember he came out of the woods a year ago and has been in and out helping about the farms here in Harpeth Valley ever since. He never eats or sleeps anywhere, and he’s a kind of wizard with animals, they say. And, William, he does know his Horace. Just last week he appeared with a little leather-covered volume, and for four mortal hours we—”
“They says dat red-haided peckerwoods goes to the devil on Fridays, and Mas’ Adam he cured my hawgs with nothing but a sack full of green cabbage heads in January, he did,” said Rufus, as he rolled his big black eyes and mysteriously shook his old head with its white kinks. “No physic a-tall, jest cabbage and a few turnips mixed in the mash. Yes, m’m, dey does go to the devil of a Friday, red-haided peckerwoods, dey does.”
“By the way, Cradd, I want you to see a little volume of the Odes I picked up in London last year. The dealer was a robber, and my dealer didn’t want me to buy, but I thought of that time you and I—”
“Not one of the Cantridge edition?”
“Yes, and I want you—”
During all the rest of supper I sat and communed with my own self while father and Uncle Cradd banqueted with the Immortals.
Even after we went back into the low-ceilinged old living-room, which was now lighted by two candles placed close together on a wonderful old mahogany table before the fire, one of the dignified chairs drawn up on each side, with my low seat between, I was busily mapping out a course of action that was to begin with my dawn signal.