“No man can treat me ill unless I take it ill,” said she, “and that I’ll do for no man. There’s no killing to be done, and if there were I’d do it myself and ask nobody. Come, Richard, let me go; I’m going to bed.” She gave the boy’s head a firm pat. “There’s a turnover in the pantry, under a bowl on the lowermost shelf,” said she; and she laughed in his passionate, flushed face when he raised it.
“I don’t care, I will!” he cried.
“Go and get your turnover; I saved it for you,” said she, with a push.
Neither of them dreamed that Lot Gordon had been watching them, standing in a snow-drift under the south window, his eyes peering over the sill, his forehead wet with a snow-wreath, stifling back his cough. When at last the candlelight went out in the great kitchen he crept stiffly and wearily through the snow.
Lot Gordon lived about half a mile away in the old Gordon homestead alone, except for an old servant-woman and her husband, who managed his house for him and took care of the farm. Lot himself did not work in the common acceptance of the term. His father had left him quite a property, and he did not need to toil for his bread. People called him lazy. He owned nearly as many books as the parson and the lawyer. He often read all night it was said, and he roamed the woods in all seasons. Under low-hanging winter boughs and summer arches did Lot Gordon pry and slink and lie in wait, his fine, sharp face peering through snowy tunnels or white spring thickets like a white fox, hungrily intent upon the secrets of nature.
There was a deep mystery in this to the village people. They could not fathom the reason for a man’s haunting wild places like a wild animal unless he hunted and trapped like the Hautville sons. They were suspicious of dark motives, upon which they exercised their imaginations.
Lot Gordon’s talk, moreover, was an enigma to them. He was no favorite, and only his goodly property tempered his ill repute. People could not help identifying him, in a measure, with his noble old house, with the stately pillared portico, with his silver-plate and damask and mahogany, which his great-grandfather had brought from the old country, with his fine fields and his money in the bank. He held, moreover, a large mortgage on the house opposite, where Burr Gordon lived with his mother. Burr’s father and Lot’s, although sons of one shrewd father, had been of very different financial abilities. Lot’s father kept his property intact, never wasting, but adding from others’ waste. Burr’s plunged into speculation, built a new house, for which he could not pay, married a wife who was not thrifty, and when his father died had anticipated the larger portion of his birthright. So Lot’s father succeeded to nearly all the family estates, and in time absorbed the rest. Lot, at his father’s death, had inherited the mortgage