“I guess I’d better make tracks,” said Ben to himself, “it won’t do for the old gentleman to see me here, or he may smell a rat.”
He accordingly scrambled over a stone wall and lay quietly hidden behind it till he judged it would be safe to make his appearance.
More about Ben.
“Benjamin,” said Squire Newcome, two days after the occurrence mentioned in the last chapter, “what made the dog howl so this morning? Was you a doing anything to him?”
“I gave him his breakfast,” said Ben, innocently. “Perhaps he was hungry, and howling for that.”
“I do not refer to that,” said the Squire. “He howled as if in pain or terror. I repeat; was you a doing anything to him?”
Ben shifted from one foot to the other, and looked out of the window.
“I desire a categorical answer,” said Squire Newcome.
“Don’t know what categorical means,” said Ben, assuming a perplexed look.
“I desire you to answer me IMMEGIATELY,” explained the Squire. “What was you a doing to Watch?”
“I was tying a tin-kettle to his tail,” said Ben, a little reluctantly.
“And what was you a doing that for?” pursued the Squire.
“I wanted to see how he would look,” said Ben, glancing demurely at his father, out of the corner of his eye.
“Did it ever occur to you that it must be disagreeable to Watch to have such an appendage to his tail?” queried the Squire.
“I don’t know,” said Ben.
“How should you like to have a tin pail suspended to your—ahem! your coat tail?”
“I haven’t got any coat tail,” said Ben, “I wear jackets. But I think I am old enough to wear coats. Can’t I have one made, father?”
“Ahem!” said the Squire, blowing his nose, “we will speak of that at some future period.”
“Fred Newell wears a coat, and he isn’t any older than I am,” persisted Ben, who was desirous of interrupting his father’s inquiries.
“I apprehend that we are wandering from the question,” said the Squire. “Would you like to be treated as you treated Watch?”
“No,” said Ben, slowly, “I don’t know as I should.”
“Then take care not to repeat your conduct of this morning,” said his father. “Stay a moment,” as Ben was about to leave the room hastily. “I desire that you should go to the post-office and inquire for letters.”
Ben left the room and sauntered out in the direction of the post-office.
A chaise, driven by a stranger, stopped as it came up with him.
The driver looked towards Ben, and inquired, “Boy,
is this the way to
Ben, who was walking leisurely along the path, whistling as he went, never turned his head.
“Are you deaf, boy?” said the driver, impatiently. “I want to know if this is the road to Sparta?”