“What did Carl do?” cried Faith.
“Well, they say—now, mind, I’m only telling you what people say—so there’s no use in your blaming me for it—that Carl and a lot of other boys were fishing eels over the bridge one evening last week. Mrs. Carr drove past in that old rattletrap buggy of hers with the open back. And Carl he just up and threw a big eel into the back. When poor old Mrs. Carr was driving up the hill by Ingleside that eel came squirming out between her feet. She thought it was a snake and she just give one awful screech and stood up and jumped clean over the wheels. The horse bolted, but it went home and no damage was done. But Mrs. Carr jarred her legs most terrible, and has had nervous spasms ever since whenever she thinks of the eel. Say, it was a rotten trick to play on the poor old soul. She’s a decent body, if she is as queer as Dick’s hat band.”
Faith and Una looked at each other again. This was a matter for the Good-Conduct Club. They would not talk it over with Mary.
“There goes your pa,” said Mary as Mr. Meredith passed them, “and never seeing us no more’n if we weren’t here. Well, I’m getting so’s I don’t mind it. But there are folks who do.”
Mr. Meredith had not seen them, but he was not walking along in his usual dreamy and abstracted fashion. He strode up the hill in agitation and distress. Mrs. Alec Davis had just told him the story of Carl and the eel. She had been very indignant about it. Old Mrs. Carr was her third cousin. Mr. Meredith was more than indignant. He was hurt and shocked. He had not thought Carl would do anything like this. He was not inclined to be hard on pranks of heedlessness or forgetfulness, but THIS was different. THIS had a nasty tang in it. When he reached home he found Carl on the lawn, patiently studying the habits and customs of a colony of wasps. Calling him into the study Mr. Meredith confronted him, with a sterner face than any of his children had ever seen before, and asked him if the story were true.
“Yes,” said Carl, flushing, but meeting his father’s eyes bravely.
Mr. Meredith groaned. He had hoped that there had been at least exaggeration.
“Tell me the whole matter,” he said.