Sarcasm was quite thrown away on Mary.
“I can tell you what will happen if you don’t learn to behave yourselves. The session will ask your father to resign. There now, Master Jerry-know-it-all. Mrs. Alec Davis said so to Mrs. Elliott. I heard her. I always have my ears pricked up when Mrs. Alec Davis comes to tea. She said you were all going from bad to worse and that though it was only what was to be expected when you had nobody to bring you up, still the congregation couldn’t be expected to put up with it much longer, and something would have to be done. The Methodists just laugh and laugh at you, and that hurts the Presbyterian feelings. She says you all need a good dose of birch tonic. Lor’, if that would make folks good I oughter be a young saint. I’m not telling you this because I want to hurt your feelings. I’m sorry for you”—Mary was past mistress of the gentle art of condescension.” I understand that you haven’t much chance, the way things are. But other people don’t make as much allowance as I do. Miss Drew says Carl had a frog in his pocket in Sunday School last Sunday and it hopped out while she was hearing the lesson. She says she’s going to give up the class. Why don’t you keep your insecks home?”
“I popped it right back in again,” said Carl. “It didn’t hurt anybody—a poor little frog! And I wish old Jane Drew would give up our class. I hate her. Her own nephew had a dirty plug of tobacco in his pocket and offered us fellows a chew when Elder Clow was praying. I guess that’s worse than a frog.”
“No, ’cause frogs are more unexpected-like. They make more of a sensation. ’Sides, he wasn’t caught at it. And then that praying competition you had last week has made a fearful scandal. Everybody is talking about it.”
“Why, the Blythes were in that as well as us,” cried Faith, indignantly. “It was Nan Blythe who suggested it in the first place. And Walter took the prize.”
“Well, you get the credit of it any way. It wouldn’t have been so bad if you hadn’t had it in the graveyard.”
“I should think a graveyard was a very good place to pray in,” retorted Jerry.
“Deacon Hazard drove past when you were praying,” said Mary, “and he saw and heard you, with your hands folded over your stomach, and groaning after every sentence. He thought you were making fun of him.”
“So I was,” declared unabashed Jerry. “Only I didn’t know he was going by, of course. That was just a mean accident. I wasn’t praying in real earnest—I knew I had no chance of winning the prize. So I was just getting what fun I could out of it. Walter Blythe can pray bully. Why, he can pray as well as dad.”
“Una is the only one of us who really likes praying,” said Faith pensively.
“Well, if praying scandalizes people so much we mustn’t do it any more,” sighed Una.