Mrs. Coffin did not blush. This young fellow, although evidently not a tramp or a burglar, had caused her some moments of distinct uneasiness, and she resented the fact.
“Well,” she observed rather tartly, “I’m sorry you don’t know what to say, but perhaps you might begin by telling us who you are and what you mean by makin’ a—er—dressin’ room of a house that don’t belong to you, just because you happened to find the door unlocked. After that you might explain why you didn’t speak up when we first come, instead of keepin’ so mighty quiet. That looks kind of suspicious to me, I must say.”
The stranger’s answer was prompt enough now. It was evident he resented the suspicion.
“I didn’t speak,” he said, “because you took me by surprise and I wasn’t, as I explained—er—presentable. Besides, I was afraid of frightening you. I assure you I hurried as fast as I could, quietly, and when you began to talk”—his expression changed and there was a twitch at the corner of his mouth—“I tried to hurry still faster, hoping you might not hear me and I could make my appearance—or my escape—sooner. As for entering the house—well, I considered it, in a way, my house; at least, I knew I should live in it for a time, and—”
“Live in it?” repeated Keziah. “Live in it? Why! mercy on us! you don’t mean to say you’re—”
She stopped to look at Grace. That young lady was looking at her with an expression which, as it expressed so very much, is beyond ordinary powers of description.
“My name is Ellery,” said the stranger. “I am the minister—the new minister of the Regular society.”
Then even Keziah blushed.
IN WHICH KEZIAH ASSUMES A GUARDIANSHIP
Didama would have given her eyeteeth—and, for that matter, the entire upper set—to have been present in that parsonage sitting room when the Rev. John Ellery made his appearance. But the fates were against Didama that day and it was months afterwards before she, or any of what Captain Zeb Mayo called the “Trumet Daily Advertisers,” picked up a hint concerning it. Keziah and Grace, acquainted with the possibilities of these volunteer news gatherers, were silent, and the Reverend John, being in some respects a discreet young man with a brand-new ministerial dignity to sustain, refrained from boasting of the sensation he had caused. He thought of it very often, usually at most inconvenient times, and when, by all the requirements of his high calling, his thought should have been busy with different and much less worldly matters.
“I declare!” said Mrs. Thankful Payne, after the new minister’s first call at her residence, a week after his arrival at Trumet, “if Mr. Ellery ain’t the most sympathetic man. I was readin’ out loud to him the poem my cousin Huldy B.—her that married Hannibal Ellis over to Denboro—made up when my second husband was lost to sea, and I’d just got to the p’int in the ninth verse where it says: