“How is it, Paul?” asked Jack Stormways, as he ran across the other in making his rounds.
“About at the end. The boys are putting the old tools back where they found them; and then we can go home. It’s the best half hour’s work any of us have done for a good while, I tell you, Jack.”
“Some of the boys don’t seem to think it quite so funny now as when they started in. They say they can’t see where the pay is going to come in, and have begun to grumble,” whispered the other.
“Perhaps it never will, and again, who knows what might come out of this? Anyhow, the ladies will be glad to see this dirty place clean for once. Some others I know may take a notion that if Old Growdy can clean up they ought to. Listen! what in the world is that?”
A rattling of tin pans came to their ears, as if one of the boys in prowling around had accidently upset a bench on which a milk bucket and some flat tinware had been airing.
“That settles it! He’ll hear all that row and be out on us in a jiffy!” said Paul, annoyed because the affair had not gone off according to schedule.
“Look! there’s a light sprung up inside the house. He’s getting his trousers on, all right, and the sooner we skip out the better!” declared Jack.
The boys now came running from every direction, while sounds from within the nearby farmhouse told that Old Peleg must be switching on his heavy boots.
So Paul, knowing that the only thing left now was a hasty flight, gave the signal arranged for. It meant every fellow for himself until they had put a reasonable distance between themselves and the seat of danger. Then they could meet at a given place, and go home, laughing over the whole affair, and wondering what Peleg would think when he saw what a miraculous transformation had taken place while he slept.
Paul happened to be the very last to run away. Instead of passing out by way of the gate as most of the others did, Paul started to pass over the fence at an inviting point, where two of the bars seemed to be down, and he could gain the adjoining woodlot, from which he might reach the road at his pleasure.
But alas! the best of plans often go amiss. And that gap that yawned in the fence proved a delusion and a snare.
Hardly had Paul made the jump over the two lower bars than he found himself suddenly jerked down, and his head came with a crash on the ground, causing him to see a myriad of stars.
Nor was this all. An unknown power at the same time seemed to lift his lower extremities up in the air at least two feet, so that he appeared to be trying to swim on dry land.
For a moment he was puzzled to account for this remarkable happening; but as his head cleared a bit, and the stars ceased to shoot before his mental vision, he began to get an idea as to what had happened.
Apparently the fellows who had painted the farmer’s pigs on the other night must have entered his place from the woods, and through this gap in the fence.