“It’s done ruint,” he replied, “you’ll hafter th’ow it away; ’t ain’t fitten fer nothin.’ I done cried ’bout a bucketful in it.”
“Why did you cry?” asked Miss Minerva calmly. “Don’t you like to work?”
“Yes ‘m, I jes’ loves to work; I wish I had time to work all the time. But it makes my belly ache to churn,—I got a awful pain right now.”
“Churn on!” she commanded unsympathetically.
He grabbed the dasher and churned vigorously for one minute.
“I reckon the butter’s done come,” he announced, resting from his labors.
“It hasn’t begun to come yet,” replied the exasperated woman. “Don’t waste so much time, William.”
The child churned in silence for the space of two minutes, and suggested: “It’s time to put hot water in it; Aunt Cindy always puts hot water in it. Lemme git some fer you.”
“I never put hot water in my milk,” said she, “it makes the butter puffy. Work more and talk less, William.”
Again there was a brief silence, broken only by the sound of the dasher thumping against the bottom of the churn, and the rattle of the dishes.
“I sho’ is tired,” he presently remarked, heaving a deep sigh. “My arms is ’bout give out, Aunt Minerva. Ole Aunt Blue-Gum Tempy’s Peruny Pearline see a man churn with his toes; lemme git a chair an’ see if I can’t churn with my toes.”
“Indeed you shall not,” responded his annoyed relative positively.
“Sanctified Sophy knowed a colored ’oman what had a little dog went roun’ an’ roun’ an’ churn fer her,” remarked Billy after a short pause. “If you had a billy goat or a little nanny I could hitch him to the churn fer you ev’ry day.”
“William,” commanded his aunt, “don’t say another word until you have finished your work.”
“Can’t I sing?” he asked.
She nodded permission as she went through the open door into the dining-room.
Returning a few minutes later she found him sitting astride the churn, using the dasher so vigorously that buttermilk was splashing in every direction, and singing in a clear, sweet voice:
“He’ll feed you when
The orphan stear he’ll dry,
He’ll clothe you when you’s hongry
An’ take you when you die.”
Miss Minerva jerked him off with no gentle hand.
“What I done now?” asked the boy innocently. “’tain’t no harm as I can see jes’ to straddle a churn.”
“Go out in the front yard,” commanded his aunt, “and sit in the swing till I call you. I’ll finish the work without your assistance. And, William,” she called after him, “there is a very bad little boy who lives next door; I want you to have as little to do with him as possible.”
Billy was sitting quietly in the big lawn-swing when his aunt, dressed for the street, finally came through the front door.