“Well, well, how are you, Adam?” exclaimed Uncle Cradd, as he turned around and greeted the woodsman with a smile of positive delight.
I had known that man’s name was Adam, but I don’t know how I knew.
“This is my brother, Mr. William Craddock, who’s come home to me to live and die where he belongs, and that young lady is Nancy. Those chickens are just a whim of hers, and we have to humor her. Can we lift you as far as Riverfield?” Uncle Cradd made his introduction and delivered his invitation all in one breath.
“I’m glad to meet you, sir, and I am grateful for your assistance in capturing my daughter’s whims,” said father, as he came partly out of his B.C. daze.
As he took my hand into his slender, but very powerful grasp, that man had the impertinence to laugh into my eyes at my parent’s double-entendre, which he had intended as a simple single remark.
“No, thank you, sir; I’ve got to get across Paradise Ridge before sundown. The lambs are dropping fast over at Plunkett’s, and I want to make sure those Southdown ewes are all right,” he answered as he put my hand out of his, though I almost let it rebel and cling, and took for a second the Golden Bird’s proud head into his palm.
“I’ll be over at Elmnest before your—your ‘good judgment’ needs mine,” he said to me as softly as I think a mother must speak to a child as she unloosens clinging dependent fingers. As he spoke he shut the door of the old ark, and Uncle Cradd drove on, leaving him standing on the edge of the great woods looking after us.
“Oh, I wish that man were going home with us, Mr. G. Bird, or we were going home with him,” I said with a kind of terror of the unknown creeping over me. As I spoke I reached out and cuddled the Golden darling into the hollow of my arm. Some day I am going to travel to the East shore of Baltimore to the Rosecomb Poultry Farm to see the woman who raised the Golden Bird and cultivated such a beautiful confiding, and affectionate nature in him. He soothed me with a chuckle as he pecked playfully at my fingers and then called cheerfully down to the tethered white Ladies of Leghorn.
As we ambled towards the sun, which was setting over old Harpeth, the tallest humpbacked hill on Paradise Ridge, the Greek battle raged on the front seat and there was peace with anxiety in the back of the ancestral coach.
As the wheels and the two old gentlemen rumbled and the Bird’s family clucked and crooned, with only an occasional irritated squawk, I, for the first time since the landslide of our fortune, began to take real thought of the morrow.
“Yes, landslide is a good name for what is happening to us, and I hope we’ll slide or land on the home base, whatever is the correct term in the national game that Matthew has given up trying to teach me to enjoy,” I said to myself as I settled down to look into our situation.