And she plied her needles with vigor, to show what she thought of such an arrangement.
“As I was saying,” said Mrs. Ploughman, “it’s the young who get the old into trouble. And artful folk, who’d ought to know better, with the life they’ve had. I’ve had no peace in this life. But I’ll have it hereafter.”
At this reflection upon Mrs. Wicket, Mr. Jeminy rose to go. “You are right,” he said; “no one will disturb you.” And he went home to Mrs. Grumble.
“Where have you been all day?” she demanded.
Mr. Jeminy smiled. He knew that Mrs. Grumble thought he had been spending the afternoon at Mrs. Wicket’s. “I have been to call on Mrs. Ploughman,” he said. “There I met old Mrs. Crabbe.”
Then Mrs. Grumble hurried out into the garden to pick a mess of young beans for supper, because Mr. Jeminy liked them better than squash. The bowl of squash she returned to the ice box. “I’ll eat it myself, to-morrow,” she thought.
“Supper will be a little late,” she said to Mr. Jeminy, “because the stove won’t draw in wet weather.”
Mr. Jeminy, clad in a pair of brown, earthy overalls, a blue, cotton shirt, and a straw hat, full of holes, was helping Mr. Tomkins dig potatoes, up on Barly Hill. From the field on the slopes above the village, he could see the hills across the valley, misted in the sun. Above him stretched the shining sky, thronged with its winds, the low clouds of early autumn trailing their shadows across the woods. All was peace; he saw September’s yellow fields, and felt, on his face, the cool fall wind, with its smoke of burning leaves, mingled with the odor of spaded earth, and fresh manure.
With every toss of his fork he covered with earth the little piles of straw and ordure which Mr. Tomkins had spread on the ground. As he advanced in this manner, small flocks of sparrows rose before him, and flew away with dissatisfied cries. “Come,” he said to them, “the world does not belong to you. I believe you have never read the works of Epictetus, who says, ’true education lies in learning to distinguish what is ours, from what does not belong to us.’ However, you have a more modern spirit; for you believe that whatever you see belongs to you, providing you are able to get hold of it.”
He was happy; in the warm, noon-day drowse, he felt, like Abraham, the grace of God within him, and found even in the humblest sparrow enough to afford him an opportunity to discuss morals with himself.
“There’ll be potatoes,” said Mr. Tomkins, “enough to last all winter for the two of us. That’s riches, Jeminy; where’s your talk now of the world being poor?”
“Some of these potatoes,” said Mr. Jeminy, bending over, “are rotted from the wet weather.”
“To-morrow,” said Mr. Tomkins, “I’ll borrow a harrow from Farmer Barly. And next spring I’ll plant corn here on the hill. Table corn, that is. Then we’ll have a corn-husking, Jeminy; you and I, and the rest of the young ones.” And he burst out laughing, in his high, cracked voice.