‘I hate to be kissed,’ I said, pulling away from her, at which Uncle Eb laughed heartily.
The day came when I would have given half my life for the words I held so cheaply then.
‘You’d better be good t’ me,’ she answered, ’for when mother dies I’m goin’ t’ take care o’ you. Uncle Eb and Gran’ma Bisnette an’ you an’ everybody I love is goin’ t’ come an’ live with me in a big, big house. An’ I’m goin’ t’ put you t’ bed nights an’ hear ye say yer prayers an everything.’
‘Who’ll do the spankin?’ Uncle Eb asked.
‘My husban’,’ she answered, with a sigh at the thought of all the trouble that lay before her.
‘An’ I’ll make him rub your back, too, Uncle Eb,’ she added. ‘Wall, I rather guess he’ll object to that,’ said he.
’Then you can give ‘ins five cents, an’ I guess he’ll be glad t’ do it,’ she answered promptly.
‘Poor man! He won’t know whether he’s runnin’ a poorhouse er a hospital, will he?’ said Uncle Eb. ‘Look here, children,’ he added, taking out his old leather wallet, as he held the reins between his knees. ‘Here’s tew shillin’ apiece for ye, an’ I want ye t’ spend it jest eggsackly as ye please.’ The last words were spoken slowly and with emphasis.
We took the two silver pieces that he handed to us and looked them all over and compared them.
‘I know what I’ll do,’ said she, suddenly. ‘I’m goin’ t’ buy my mother a new dress, or mebbe a beautiful ring,’ she added thoughtfully.
For my own part I did not know what I should buy. I wanted a real gun most of all and my inclination oscillated between that and a red rocking horse. My mind was very busy while I sat in silence. Presently I rose and went to Uncle Eb and whispered in his ear.
‘Do you think I could get a real rifle with two shilin’?’ I enquired anxiously.
‘No,’ he answered in a low tone that seemed to respect my confidence. ’Bime by, when you’re older, I’ll buy ye a rifle — a real rip snorter, too, with a shiny barrel ’n a silver lock. When ye get down t, the village ye’ll see lots o’ things y’d rather hev, prob’ly. If I was you, children,’ he added, in a louder tone, ’I wouldn’t buy a thing but nuts ‘n’ raisins.’
’Nuts ‘n’ raisins!’ Hope exclaimed, scornfully.
’Nuts ‘n’ raisins,’ he repeated. ’They’re cheap ‘n’ satisfyin’. If ye eat enough uv ’em you’ll never want anything else in this world.’
I failed to see the irony in Uncle Eb’s remark and the suggestion seemed to have a good deal of merit, the more I thought it over.
‘’T any rate,’ said Uncle Eb, ‘I’d git somethin’ fer my own selves.’
‘Well,’ said Hope, ‘You tell us a lot o’ things we could buy.’
‘Less see!’ said Uncle Eb, looking very serious. ’There’s bootjacks an’ there’s warmin’ pans ‘n’ mustard plasters ‘n’ liver pads ‘n’ all them kind o’ things.’
We both shook our heads very doubtfully.