“Yes, mother, you are right,” said Mr. Stormways, just then. “Things have been going from bad to worse in our town of late, and the fathers are beginning to wonder where it will end. Only yesterday I met old Peleg Growdy. You remember the old fellow, for we stopped at his place when we were out riding, and had a drink at his well.”
“Yes, and a most singular old man he was. I really couldn’t say that I was much impressed with his looks or conversation,” replied the lady, as she poured another cup of coffee for her husband.
“All very true; but he minds his own business if let alone; and after all I find that he is a well educated man, up in most questions of the day. But the boys, or some of them at least, have for a long time considered old Peleg a fit subject for practical jokes. They change the lines on his team, given half a chance, and annoy him in every way possible. Really, I don’t wonder he is bitter about it.”
“But you had something in mind, father, when you said that you met him?”
Mr. Stormways looked at Jack.
“That is true, my son; and do you know, the first thought that came to me was one of pleasure to feel absolutely sure no boy of mine would disgrace himself in plaguing an old man who had never harmed him.”
Jack felt a glow in the region of his heart at this show of confidence; and resolved that more than ever would he merit it; but somehow he could not help looking out of the tail of his eye toward Karl, to find that the color had mounted to his forehead, and that he seemed embarrassed.
Was he thinking just then of the coins; or did he have some knowledge of the practical joke that had been played on old Peleg Growdy?
“Now, tell us what it was, Alan,” said Mrs. Stormways, encouragingly.
“Well, perhaps in one way it may have been looked upon as something humorous, but it annoyed the old man very much. Last Sunday he went out to let his pigs run loose in the lot, as is his habit. When he pulled the rope that opened the little door in the back of the pen, he was astonished to see the queerest lot of porkers dash away that human eyes had ever beheld.”
Karl was snickering by now, showing that he must have some knowledge of what was to come.
“No two pigs looked alike. The boys had crept into the pen in the night, with a lantern, and some pots of paint taken from Mr. Rabow’s shop, and painted the whole drove in every color imaginable. One, he said, looked like the American flag. Another had four legs of different hues; a third was striped yellow and green, and so it went. Imagine the old man’s amazement as he saw them kicking up their legs, and tearing around like mad; for the sun had reached the turpentine in the paint, and made it burn tremendously.”
Karl gave a shout, and even Mrs. Stormways could not repress a smile, though she felt that it was wrong.
“I heard about it from one of the boys, father; I don’t want to tell his name, you see, because it might get him into a scrape,” said Karl, as he managed to get his breath again.