“Well now, Mother, you know they are, if you’d only speak up honest. But you’re like old Aunt Nancy Scott, you never say anything uncharitable except in the way of business. You know the Gordons ain’t like other people and never were and never will be. They’re about the only queer folks we have in Lindsay, Master, except old Peter Cook, who keeps twenty-five cats. Lord, Master, think of it! What chanct would a poor mouse have? None of the rest of us are queer, leastwise, we hain’t found it out if we are. But, then, we’re mighty uninteresting, I’m bound to admit that.”
“Where do the Gordons live?” asked Eric, who had grown used to holding fast to a given point of inquiry through all the bewildering mazes of old Robert’s conversation.
“Away up yander, half a mile in from Radnor road, with a thick spruce wood atween them and all the rest of the world. They never go away anywheres, except to church—they never miss that—and nobody goes there. There’s just old Thomas, and his sister Janet, and a niece of theirs, and this here Neil we’ve been talking about. They’re a queer, dour, cranky lot, and I will say it, Mother. There, give your old man a cup of tea and never mind the way his tongue runs on. Speaking of tea, do you know Mrs. Adam Palmer and Mrs. Jim Martin took tea together at Foster Reid’s last Wednesday afternoon?”
“No, why, I thought they were on bad terms,” said Mrs. Williamson, betraying a little feminine curiosity.
“So they are, so they are. But they both happened to visit Mrs. Foster the same afternoon and neither would leave because that would be knuckling down to the other. So they stuck it out, on opposite sides of the parlour. Mrs. Foster says she never spent such an uncomfortable afternoon in all her life before. She would talk a spell to one and then t’other. And they kept talking to Mrs. Foster and at each other. Mrs. Foster says she really thought she’d have to keep them all night, for neither would start to go home afore the other. Finally Jim Martin came in to look for his wife, ’cause he thought she must have got stuck in the marsh, and that solved the problem. Master, you ain’t eating anything. Don’t mind my stopping; I was at it half an hour afore you come, and anyway I’m in a hurry. My hired boy went home to-day. He heard the rooster crow at twelve last night and he’s gone home to see which of his family is dead. He knows one of ’em is. He heard a rooster crow in the middle of the night onct afore and the next day he got word that his second cousin down at Souris was dead. Mother, if the Master don’t want any more tea, ain’t there some cream for Timothy?”
CHAPTER V. A PHANTOM OF DELIGHT
Shortly before sunset that evening Eric went for a walk. When he did not go to the shore he liked to indulge in long tramps through the Lindsay fields and woods, in the mellowness of “the sweet ’o the year.” Most of the Lindsay houses were built along the main road, which ran parallel to the shore, or about the stores at “The Corner.” The farms ran back from them into solitudes of woods and pasture lands.