But there was something on Mr. Dick’s mind. I hadn’t known him for fourteen years for nothing. And the night Mr. Sam and I carried out the canned salmon and corn and tomatoes he walked back with me to the edge of the deer park, Mr. Sam having gone ahead.
“Now,” I said, when we were out of ear-shot, “spit it out. I’ve been expecting it.”
“Listen, Minnie,” he answered, “is Ju—is Miss Summers still confined to her room?”
“No,” I replied coldly. “Ju—Miss Summers was down to-night to dinner.”
“Then she’s seen Pierce,” he said, “and he’s told her the whole story and by to-morrow—”
“What?” I demanded, clutching his arm. “You wretched boy, don’t tell me after all I’ve done.”
“Oh, confound it, Minnie,” he exclaimed, “it’s as much your fault as mine. Couldn’t you have found somebody else, instead of getting, of all things on earth, somebody from the Sweet Peas Company?”
“I see,” I said slowly. “Then it wasn’t coincidence about the mumps!”
“Confounded kid had them,” he said with bitterness. “Minnie, something’s got to be done, and done soon. If you want the plain truth, Miss—er—Summers and I used to be friends—and—well, she’s suing me for breach of promise. Now for heaven’s sake, Minnie, don’t make a fuss—”
But my knees wouldn’t hold me. I dropped down in a snow-drift and covered my face.
MISS PATTY’S PRINCE
I dragged myself back to the spring-house and dropped in front of the fire. What with worry and no sleep and now this new complication I was dead as yesterday’s newspaper. I sat there on the floor with my hands around my knees, thinking what to do next, and as I sat there, the crayon enlargement of father on the spring-house wall began to shake its head from side to side, and then I saw it hold out its hand and point a finger at me.
“Cut and run, Minnie,” it said. “Get out from under! Go and buy Timmon’s candy store before the smash—the smash—!”
When I opened my eyes Mr. Pierce was sitting on the other side of the chimney and staring at the fire. He had a pipe between his teeth, but he wasn’t smoking, and he had something of the same look about his mouth he’d had the first day I saw him.