“I wonder why,” ruminated Mr. Bradbury—“I wonder why ’Gene Bantry walked up from the deepo. Don’t seem much like his style. Should think he’d of rode up in a hack.”
“Sho!” said Uncle Joe Davey, his breath recovered. “He wanted to walk up past Judge Pike’s, to see if there wasn’t a show of Mamie’s bein’ at the window, and give her a chance to look at that college uniform and banjo-box and new walk of his.”
Mr. Arp began to show signs of uneasiness.
“I’d like mighty well to know,” he said, shifting round in his chair, “if there’s anybody here that’s been able to answer the question I put, yesterday, just before we went home. You all tried to, but I didn’t hear anything I could consider anyways near even a fair argument.”
“Who tried to?” asked Buckalew, sharply, sitting up straight. “What question?”
“What proof can you bring me,” began Mr. Arp, deliberately, “that we folks, modernly, ain’t more degenerate than the ancient Romans?”
Main Street, already muffled by the snow, added to its quietude a frozen hush where the wonder-bearing youth pursued his course along its white, straight way. None was there in whom impertinence overmastered astonishment, or who recovered from the sight in time to jeer with effect; no “Trab’s boy” gathered courage to enact in the thoroughfare a scene of mockery and of joy. Leaving business at a temporary stand-still behind him, Mr. Bantry swept his long coat steadily over the snow and soon emerged upon that part of the street where the mart gave way to the home. The comfortable houses stood pleasantly back from the street, with plenty of lawn and shrubbery about them; and often, along the picket-fences, the laden branches of small cedars, bending low with their burden, showered the young man’s swinging shoulders glitteringly as he brushed by.
And now that expression he wore—the indulgent amusement of a man of the world—began to disintegrate and show signs of change. It became finely grave, as of a high conventionality, lofty, assured, and mannered, as he approached the Pike mansion. (The remotest stranger must at once perceive that the Canaan papers could not have called it otherwise without pain.)
It was a big, smooth-stone-faced house, product of the ’Seventies, frowning under an outrageously insistent mansard, capped by a cupola, and staring out of long windows overtopped with “ornamental” slabs. Two cast-iron deer, painted death-gray, twins of the same mould, stood on opposite sides of the front walk, their backs towards it and each other, their bodies in profile to the street, their necks bent, however, so that they gazed upon the passer-by—yet gazed without emotion. Two large, calm dogs guarded the top of the steps leading to the front-door; they also were twins and of the same interesting metal, though honored beyond the deer by coats of black paint