“I know some folks do that way,” said Amanda.
“Well, I always do, an’ I guess ’most everybody does that’s good housekeepers. It makes a sight of difference.”
Amanda said nothing, but she sat straighter.
“I s’pose you don’t have to make any fire from mornin’ till night; seems as if you might keep cool.”
“No, I don’t have to.”
“Well, I do. There I had to go to work to-day an’ cook squash an’ beans an’ green corn. The men folks ain’t satisfied if they don’t have ’em in the time of ’em. I wish sometimes there wasn’t no such thing as garden sauce. I tell ’em sometimes I guess if they had to get the things ready an’ cook ’em themselves, they’d go without. Seems sometimes as if the whole creation was like a kitchen without any pump in it, specially contrived to make women folks extra work. Looks to me as if pease without pods could have been contrived pretty easy, and it does seem as if there wasn’t any need of havin’ strings on the beans.”
“Mis’ Green has got a kind of beans without any strings,” said Amanda. “She brought me over some the other day, an’ they were about the best I ever eat.”
“Well, I know there is a kind without strings,” returned Mrs. Babcock; “but I ain’t got none in my garden, an’ I never shall have. It ain’t my lot to have things come easy. Seems as if it got hotter an’ hotter. Why don’t you open your front door?”
“Jest as sure as I do, the house will be swarmin’ with flies.”
“You’d ought to have a screen-door. I made Adoniram make me one five years ago, an’ it’s a real nice one; but I know, of course, you ain’t got nobody to make one for you. Once in a while it seems as if men folks come in kinder handy, an’ they’d ought to, when women work an’ slave the way I do to fill ’em up. Mebbe some time when Adoniram ain’t drove, I could get him to make a door for you. Mebbe some time next winter.”
“I s’pose it would be nice,” replied Amanda. “You’re real kind to offer, Mis’ Babcock.”
“Well, I s’pose women that have men folks to do for ’em ought to be kind of obligin’ sometimes to them that ain’t. I’ll see if I can get Adoniram to make you a screen-door next winter. Seems to me it does get hotter an’ hotter. For the land sakes, Amanda Pratt! what are you cuttin’ that great hole in that stockin’ heel for? Are you crazy?”
Amanda colored. “The other stockin’s got a hole in it,” said she, “an’ I’m makin’ ’em match.”
“Cuttin’ a great big hole in a stockin’ heel on purpose to darn? Mandy Pratt, you ain’t?”
“I am,” replied Amanda, with dignity.
“Well, if you ain’t a double and twisted old maid!” gasped Mrs. Babcock.
Amanda’s long face and her neck were a delicate red.
Mrs. Babcock laughed a loud, sarcastic cackle. “I never—did!” she giggled.
Amanda opened her mouth as if to speak, then she shut it tightly, remembering the offer of the screen-door. She had had so few gifts in her whole life that she had a meek impulse of gratitude even if one were thrust into her hand hard enough to hurt her.