Chronicled by the rays of light and sound waves upon the walls of the house at Opal Farm.
The Man from Everywhere, keeping
bachelor’s hall in the
eastern half of the farm home.
Amos Opie, living in the western
half of the house, the separating
door being locked on his side.
Maria Maxwell, who, upon hearing
Opie is again ill, has
dropped in to give him hot soup and medicine.
Amos Opie was more than usually uncomfortable this particular September evening. It may have been either a rather sudden change in the weather or the fact that now that he was sufficiently well to get about the kitchen and sit in the well-house porch, of a sunny morning, Maria Maxwell had given up the habit of running over several times a day to give him his medicine and be sure that the kettle boiled and his tea was freshly drawn, instead of being what she called “stewed bitterness” that had stood on the leaves all day.
Whichever it was, he felt wretched in body and mind, and began to think himself neglected and was consequently aggrieved. He hesitated a few minutes before he opened the door leading to The Man’s part of the house, took a few steps into the square hall, and called “Mr. Blake” in a quavering voice; but no answer came, as the bachelor had not yet returned from the reservoir.
Going back, he settled heavily into the rocking-chair and groaned,—it was not from real pain, simply he had relaxed his grip and was making himself miserable,—then he began to talk to himself.
“She doesn’t come in so often now he’s come home, and he fights shy o’ the place, thinkin’ mebbe she’s around, and they both wants to buy. He’s offered me thirty-five hundred cash, and she’s offered me thirty hundred cash, which is all the place’s worth, for it’ll take another ten hundred to straighten out the house, with new winder frames, floorin’ ’nd plaster ‘nd shingles, beams and sills all bein’ sound,—when the truth is I don’t wish ter sell nohow, yet can’t afford to hold! I don’t see light noway ‘nd I’m feelin’ another turn comin’ when I was nigh ready ter git about agin to Miss’ss Penrose flower poles. O lordy! lordy! I wish I had some more o’ that settling medicine Maria Maxwell brought me” (people very seldom spoke of that young woman except by her complete name). “If I had my wind, I’d yell over to her to come up! Yes, I vow I would!”
David, the hound, who had been lying asleep before the stove, in which the fire had died away, got up, stretched himself, and, going to his master, after gazing in his face for several minutes, licked his hands thoroughly and solemnly, in a way totally different from the careless and irresponsible licks of a joyous dog; then raising his head gave a long-drawn bay that finally broke from its melancholy music and degenerated into a howl.