And the two women began to discuss their various fowls, and the conversation was so interesting that Mrs. Dunn remained late, and found Archie in bed when she went home. “Ah, well, poor boy, I’ll have to tell him of my decision in the morning. He’ll be terribly disappointed, and I hate to do it I’m afraid it’s selfishness that makes me want to keep him with me. I almost wish he would take things into his own hands, and start for the city himself. I would be rid then of the responsibility of sending him, and the question would be settled for me. Boys sometimes know best how to settle their own difficulties, anyhow.”
Mrs. Dunn kneaded the bread before retiring, for to-morrow was Saturday, and, therefore, baking-day, and then she went into her little room off the kitchen, and prayed earnestly for her boy before sleeping. She prayed that she might be helped in advising him, and that he might always do what was best for himself and for his mother.
The next day was Saturday, and in the morning the Hut Club met, as usual, and prepared to have an open-air dinner for this day. The furnace, which had been knocked down during the week by the East Siders, was rebuilt, and the skillet and other utensils were brought from the nearest kitchens. Archie went to the grocery around the corner and bought five cents’ worth of cakes, and then the six boys sat down in a circle and prepared to devour their home-made feast. But before they began Archie stood up. “I want to say that this will probably be my farewell dinner with the club,” he said, in a low tone, “and I hope that you will appoint another president in my place.”
The boys were horror-struck, but Archie refused to explain where and when he was going. Finally, they refused to appoint another president, all agreeing that Archie should hold that office for ever, wherever he was. And the meal was eaten in silence, for the announcement had thrown a sort of chill over the proceedings. When they had finished, Archie silently shook hands with each of the boys, who were dumb with amazement, gathered up his skillet and coffee-pot, and went home through the gate to the chicken-lot.
“I wonder what he’s goin’ to do,” they all said, as in one breath, and as there was seldom much fun in the club when Archie was absent, they all went home in a few minutes, or down-town to watch the farmers, who were in town to do their weekly buying.
When Archie reached home he went up-stairs to his little room, and began to lay out a few things which he wanted to take with him, for he had determined to start for New York this very night. Then he tied the things up in a small bundle, and sat down to write a note to his mother. When he had finished it, he pinned it up at the head of his cot, and this is what it said: