The indignant color came into Clementina’s face. “He had no business to call me that.”
“No; and he doesn’t think he had, now. He’s truly sorry for it.”
“I’ll see,” said Clementina.
She had not seen by the time Fane got back. She received his apologies for being gone so long coldly, and went away to Mrs. Atwell, whom she told what had passed between Gregory and herself.
“Is he truly so proud?” she asked.
“He’s a very good young man,” said Mrs. Atwell, “but I guess he’s proud. He can’t help it, but you can see he fights against it. If I was you, Clem, I wouldn’t say anything to the guls about it.”
“Oh, no’m—I mean, no, indeed. I shouldn’t think of it. But don’t you think that was funny, his bringing in Christ, that way?”
“Well, he’s going to be a minister, you know.”
“Is he really?” Clementina was a while silent. At last she said, “Don’t you think Mr. Gregory has a good many freckles?”
“Well, them red-complected kind is liable to freckle,” said Mrs. Atwell, judicially.
After rather a long pause for both of them, Clementina asked, “Do you think it would be nice for me to ask Mr. Gregory about things, when I wasn’t suttain?”
“Oh-wo’ds, and pronunciation; and books to read.”
“Why, I presume he’d love to have you. He’s always correctin’ the guls; I see him take up a book one day, that one of ’em was readin’, and when she as’t him about it, he said it was rubbage. I guess you couldn’t have a betta guide.”
“Well, that was what I was thinking. I guess I sha’n’t do it, though. I sh’d neva have the courage.” Clementina laughed and then fell rather seriously silent again.
One day the shoeman stopped his wagon at the door of the helps’ house, and called up at its windows, “Well, guls, any of you want to git a numba foua foot into a rumba two shoe, to-day? Now’s youa chance, but you got to be quick abort it. The’e ha’r’t but just so many numba two shoes made, and the wohld’s full o’ rumba foua feet.”
The windows filled with laughing faces at the first sound of the shoeman’s ironical voice; and at sight of his neat wagon, with its drawers at the rear and sides, and its buggy-hood over the seat where the shoeman lounged lazily holding the reins, the girls flocked down the stairs, and out upon the piazza where the shoe man had handily ranged his vehicle.
They began to ask him if he had not this thing and that, but he said with firmness, “Nothin’ but shoes, guls. I did carry a gen’l line, one while, of what you may call ankle-wea’, such as spats, and stockin’s, and gaitas, but I nova did like to speak of such things befoa ladies, and now I stick ex-elusively to shoes. You know that well enough, guls; what’s the use?”
He kept a sober face amidst the giggling that his words aroused,—and let his voice sink into a final note of injury.