“And Cynthia? Is Cynthia at home?” Westover asked.
“Yes; they’re all down in the little wood-colored house yet. Cynthia teaches winters, and summers she helps mother. She has charge of the dining-room.”
“Does Franky cry as much as ever?”
“No, Frank’s a fine boy. He’s in the house, too. Kind of bell-boy.”
“And you haven’t worked Mr. Whitwell in anywhere?”
“Well, he talks to the ladies, and takes parties of ’em mountain-climbing. I guess we couldn’t get along without Mr. Whitwell. He talks religion to ’em.” He cast a mocking glance at Westover over his shoulder. “Women seem to like religion, whether they belong to church or not.”
Westover laughed and asked: “And Fox? How’s Fox?”
“Well,” said Jeff, “we had to give Fox away. He was always cross with the boarders’ children. My brother was on from Colorado, and he took Fox back with him.”
“I didn’t suppose,” said Westover, “that I should have been sorry to miss Fox. But I guess I shall be.”
Jeff seemed to enjoy the implication of his words. “He wasn’t a bad dog. He was stupid.”
When they arrived at the foot of the lane, mounting to the farm, Westover saw what changes had been made in the house. There were large additions, tasteless and characterless, but giving the rooms that were needed. There was a vulgar modernity in the new parts, expressed with a final intensity in the four-light windows, which are esteemed the last word of domestic architecture in the country. Jeff said nothing as they approached the house, but Westover said: “Well, you’ve certainly prospered. You’re quite magnificent.”
They reached the old level in front of the house, artificially widened out of his remembrance, with a white flag-pole planted at its edge, and he looked up at the front of the house, which was unchanged, except that it had been built a story higher back of the old front, and discovered the window of his old room. He could hardly wait to get his greetings over with Mrs. Durgin and Jackson, who both showed a decorous pleasure and surprise at his coming, before he asked:
“And could you let me have my own room, Mrs. Durgin?”
“Why, yes,” she said, “if you don’t want something a little nicer.”
“I don’t believe you’ve got anything nicer,” Westover said.
“All right, if you think so,” she retorted. “You can have the old room, anyway.”
Westover could not have said he felt very much at home on his first sojourn at the farm, or that he had cared greatly for the Durgins. But now he felt very much at home, and as if he were in the hands of friends.
It was toward the close of the afternoon that he arrived, and he went in promptly to the meal that was served shortly after. He found that the farm-house had not evolved so far in the direction of a hotel as to have reached the stage of a late dinner. It was tea that he sat down to, but when he asked if there were not something hot, after listening to a catalogue of the cold meats, the spectacled waitress behind his chair demanded, with the air of putting him on his honor: