Finally ’twas “chopped-hay” time, and in comes the waiter with the tray. And again we had a surprise, just like the one back in July. Percy wa’n’t on hand, and Jonesy was.
But the other surprise wa’n’t nothing to this one. The Seabury girl was mightily set back, but old Van was paralyzed. His eyes and mouth opened and kept on opening.
“Cereal, sir?” asks Jones, polite as ever.
“Why! why, you—you rascal!” hollers Van Wedderburn. “What are you doing here?”
“I have a few days’ vacation from my position at Providence, sir,” answers Jones. “I’m a waiter at present.”
“Why, Robert!” exclaims Mabel Seabury.
Van swung around like he was on a pivot. “Do you know him?” he pants, wild as a coot, and pointing.
’Twas the waiter himself that answered.
“She knows me, father,” he says. “In fact she is the young lady I told you about last spring; the one I intend to marry.”
Did you ever see the tide go out over the flats? Well, that’s the way the red slid down off old Van’s bald head and across his cheeks. But it came back again like an earthquake wave. He turned to Mabel once more, and if ever there was a pleading “Don’t tell” in a man’s eyes, ’twas in his.
“Cereal, sir?” asks Robert Van Wedderburn, alias “Jonesy.”
Well, I guess that’s about all. Van Senior took it enough sight more graceful than you’d expect, under the circumstances. He went straight up to his room and never showed up till suppertime. Then he marches to where Mabel and his son was, on the porch, and says he:
“Bob,” he says, “if you don’t marry this young lady within a month I’ll disown you, for good this time. You’ve got more sense than I thought. Blessed if I see who you inherit it from!” says he, kind of to himself.
Jonadab ain’t paid me the quarter yet. He says the bet was that she’d land a millionaire, and a Van Wedderburn, afore the season ended, and she did; so he figgers that he won the bet. Him and me got wedding cards a week ago, so I suppose “Jonesy” and Mabel are on their honeymoon now. I wonder if she’s ever told her husband about what I heard in the bayberry bushes. Being the gamest sport, for a woman, that ever I see, I’ll gamble she ain’t said a word about it.