Here the trio endeavored to appear gracious, though they were manifestly uneasy and a bit dissatisfied with what John would have called “the luks of t’ings.”
“Cook, from the 1st of January, may go to her relatives, and stay until they’re every one of them restored to health, if it takes forty years. Mary may consider herself presented with sixty years’ vacation without pay; and for you, John, I have written this letter of recommendation to the proprietors of a large undertaking establishment in New York, who will, I trust, engage you as a chief mourner, or perhaps hearse-driver, for the balance of your days. At any rate, you, too, after January 1st, may consider yourself free to go to any funeral or militia exercises, or anything else you may choose to honor with your presence, at your own expense. You are all given leave of absence without pay until further notice. I wish you a merry Christmas. Good-morning.”
There were no farewells in the house that day; and inasmuch as there was no Christmas dinner either, Thaddeus and Bessie did not miss the service of the waitress, who, when last seen, was walking airily off towards the station, accompanied by the indignant John and a bundle-laden cook. Next day their trunks went also.
“It was rather a hard thing to do on Christmas Day, Thaddeus,” said Bessie, a little later.
“Oh no,” quibbled Thaddeus. “It was very easy under the circumstances, and quite appropriate. This is the time of peace on earth and good-will to men. The only way for us to have peace on earth was to get rid of those two women; and as for John, he has my good-will, now that he is no longer in my employ.”
“Thaddeus,” said Bessie to her husband as they sat at breakfast one morning, shortly after the royal banquet over which “Grimmins” had presided, “did you hear anything strange in the house last night? Something like a footstep in the hall?”
“No,” said Thaddeus. “I slept like a top last night. I didn’t hear anything. Did you?”
“I thought so,” said Bessie. “About two o’clock I waked up with a start, and while it may have been a sort of waking dream, I was almost certain I heard a rustling sound out in the hall, and immediately after a creaking on the stairs, as though there was somebody there.”
“Well, why on earth didn’t you wake me, Bess?” returned Thaddeus. “I could easily have decided the matter by getting up and investigating.”
“That was why I didn’t wake you, Teddy. I’d a great deal rather lose the silver or anything else in the house a burglar might want than have you hit on the head with a sand-club,” said Bessie. “You men are too brave.”
“Thank you,” said Thaddeus, with a smile, as he thought of a certain discussion he had had not long before at the club, in which he and several other brave men had reached the unanimous conclusion that the best thing to do at dead of night, with burglars in the house, was to crawl down under the bedclothes and snore as loudly as possible. “Nevertheless, my dear, you should have told me.”