“What?” says all hands, Poundberry loudest of all.
“That’s right,” said Darius. “She told the squire a long rigamarole about what a martyr Ase was, and how her dad was going to do some thing for him, but that she was going to give him his home back again with her own money, money her father had given her to buy a ring with, she said, though that ain’t reasonable, of course—nobody’d pay that much for a ring. The squire tried to tell her what a no-good Ase was, but she froze him quicker’n— Where you going, Cap’n Benije?”
“I’m going down to that poorhouse,” hollers Poundberry. “I’ll find out the rights and wrongs of this thing mighty quick.”
We all said we’d go with him, and we went, six in one carryall. As we hove in sight of the poorhouse a buggy drove away from it, going in t’other direction.
“That looks like the Baptist minister’s buggy,” says Darius. “What on earth’s he been down here for?”
Nobody could guess. As we run alongside the poorhouse door, Ase Blueworthy stepped out, leading Debby Badger. She was as red as an auction flag.
“By time, Ase Blueworthy!” hollers Cap’n Benijah, starting to get out of the carryall, “what do you mean by— Debby, what are you holding that rascal’s hand for?”
But Ase cut him short. “Cap’n Poundberry,” says he, dignified as a boy with a stiff neck, “I might pass over your remarks to me, but when you address my wife—”
“Your wife?” hollers everybody—everybody but the cap’n; he only sort of gurgled.
“My wife,” says Asaph. “When you men—church members, too, some of you—sold the house over her head, I’m proud to say that I, having a home once more, was able to step for’ard and ask her to share it with me. We was married a few minutes ago,” he says.
“And, oh, Cap’n Poundberry!” cried Debby, looking as if this was the most wonderful part of it—“oh, Cap’n Poundberry!” she says, “we’ve known for a long time that some man—an uncommon kind of man—was coming to offer me a home some day, but even Asaph didn’t know ’twas himself; did you, Asaph?”
We selectmen talked the thing over going home, but Cap’n Benijah didn’t speak till we was turning in at his gate. Then he fetched his knee a thump with his fist, and says he, in the most disgusted tone ever I heard:
“A house and lot for nothing,” he says, “a wife to do the work for him, and five hundred dollars to spend! Sometimes the way this world’s run gives me moral indigestion.”
Which was tolerable radical for a Come-Outer to say, seems to me.
’Twas Peter T. Brown that suggested it, you might know. And, as likewise you might know, ’twas Cap’n Jonadab that done the most of the growling.