’Twas nearly eight when they drove into the yard and come slopping up the steps. And such a passel of drownded rats you never see. The women-folks made for their rooms, but the men hopped around the parlor, shedding puddles with every hop, and hollering for us to trot out the head of the Weather Bureau.
“Bring him to me,” orders Peter, stopping to pick his pants loose from his legs; “I yearn to caress him.”
And what old Dillaway said was worse’n that.
But Beriah didn’t come to be caressed. ’Twas quarter past nine when we heard wheels in the yard.
“By mighty!” yells Cap’n Jonadab; “it’s the camp-meeting pilgrims. I forgot them. Here’s a show.”
He jumped to open the door, but it opened afore he got there and Beriah come in. He didn’t pay no attention to the welcome he got from the gang, but just stood on the sill, pale, but grinning the grin that a terrier dog has on just as you’re going to let the rat out of the trap.
Somebody outside says: “Whoa, consarn you!” Then there was a thump and a sloshy stamping on the steps, and in comes Eben and the widder.
I had one of them long-haired, foreign cats once that a British skipper gave me. ’Twas a yeller and black one and it fell overboard. When we fished it out it looked just like the Kelly woman done then. Everybody but Beriah just screeched—we couldn’t help it. But the prophet didn’t laugh; he only kept on grinning.
Emma looked once round the room, and her eyes, as well as you could see ’em through the snarl of dripping hair and hat-trimming, fairly snapped. Then she went up the stairs three steps at a time.
Eben didn’t say a word. He just stood there and leaked. Leaked and smiled. Yes, sir! his face, over the mess that had been that rainbow necktie, had the funniest look of idiotic joy on it that ever I see. In a minute everybody else shut up. We didn’t know what to make of it.
’Twas Beriah that spoke first.
“He! he! he!” he chuckled. “He! he! he! Wasn’t it kind of wet coming through the woods, Mr. Cobb? What does Mrs. Kelly think of the day her beau picked out to go to camp-meeting in?”
Then Eben came out of his trance.
“Beriah,” says he, holding out a dripping flipper, “shake!”
But Beriah didn’t shake. Just stood still.
“I’ve got a s’prise for you, shipmate,” goes on Eben. “Who did you say that lady was?”
Beriah didn’t answer. I begun to think that some of the wet had soaked through the assistant prophet’s skull and had give him water on the brain.
“You called her Mis’ Kelly, didn’t you?” gurgled Eben. “Wall, that ain’t her name. Her and me stopped at the Baptist parsonage over to East Harniss when we was on the way home and got married. She’s Mis’ Cobb now,” he says.