He gazed at her in silence for a moment.
“I’m going to accept the post you just offered me, Miss Orr; at any salary you think I’m worth,” he said gravely.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Steps and the sound of voices floated across the picket fence. The gate rasped on its rusted hinges; then slammed shut.
“If I was you, Mr. Elliot,” came the penetrating accents of Mrs. Solomon Black’s voice, “I should hire a reg’lar reviv’list along in th’ fall, after preservin’ an’ house-cleanin’ time. We need an outpourin’ of grace, right here in Brookville; and we can’t get it no other way.”
And the minister’s cultured voice in reply:
“I shall give your suggestion the most careful consideration, Mrs. Black, between now and the autumn season.”
“Great Scott!” exclaimed Jim Dodge; “this is no place for me! Good night, Miss Orr!”
She laid her hand in his.
“You can trust me,” he said briefly, and became on the instant a flitting shadow among the lilac bushes, lightly vaulting over the fence and mingling with the darker shadows beyond.
“Now, Henry,” said Mrs. Daggett, as she smilingly set a plate of perfectly browned pancakes before her husband, which he proceeded to deluge with butter and maple syrup, “are you sure that’s so, about the furniture? ‘Cause if it is, we’ve got two or three o’ them things right in this house: that chair you’re settin’ in, for one, an’ upstairs there’s that ol’ fashioned brown bureau, where I keep the sheets ‘n’ pillow slips. You don’t s’pose she’d want that, do you?”
Mrs. Daggett sank down in a chair opposite her husband, her large pink and white face damp with moisture. Above her forehead a mist of airy curls fluttered in the warm breeze from the open window.
“My, ain’t it hot!” she sighed. “I got all het up a-bakin’ them cakes. Shall I fry you another griddleful, papa?”
“They cer’nly do taste kind o’ moreish, Abby,” conceded Mr. Daggett thickly. “You do beat the Dutch, Abby, when it comes t’ pancakes. Mebbe I could manage a few more of ’em.”
Mrs. Daggett beamed sincerest satisfaction.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she deprecated happily. “Ann Whittle says I don’t mix batter the way she does. But if you like ’em, Henry—”
“Couldn’t be beat, Abby,” affirmed Mr. Daggett sturdily, as he reached for his third cup of coffee.
The cook stove was only a few steps away, so the sizzle of the batter as it expanded into generous disks on the smoking griddle did not interrupt the conversation. Mrs. Daggett, in her blue and white striped gingham, a pancake turner in one plump hand, smiled through the odorous blue haze like a tutelary goddess. Mr. Daggett, in his shirt-sleeves, his scant locks brushed carefully over his bald spot, gazed at her with placid satisfaction. He was thoroughly accustomed to having Abby wait upon his appetite.