Norman Douglas came to church the first Sunday in November and made all the sensation he desired. Mr. Meredith shook hands with him absently on the church steps and hoped dreamily that Mrs. Douglas was well.
“She wasn’t very well just before I buried her ten years ago, but I reckon she has better health now,” boomed Norman, to the horror and amusement of every one except Mr. Meredith, who was absorbed in wondering if he had made the last head of his sermon as clear as he might have, and hadn’t the least idea what Norman had said to him or he to Norman.
Norman intercepted Faith at the gate.
“Kept my word, you see—kept my word, Red Rose. I’m free now till the first Sunday in December. Fine sermon, girl—fine sermon. Your father has more in his head than he carries on his face. But he contradicted himself once—tell him he contradicted himself. And tell him I want that brimstone sermon in December. Great way to wind up the old year—with a taste of hell, you know. And what’s the matter with a nice tasty discourse on heaven for New Year’s? Though it wouldn’t be half as interesting as hell, girl—not half. Only I’d like to know what your father thinks about heaven—he can think—rarest thing in the world—a person who can think. But he did contradict himself. Ha, ha! Here’s a question you might ask him sometime when he’s awake, girl. ‘Can God make a stone so big He couldn’t lift it Himself?’ Don’t forget now. I want to hear his opinion on it. I’ve stumped many a minister with that, girl.”
Faith was glad to escape him and run home. Dan Reese, standing among the crowd of boys at the gate,
looked at her and shaped his mouth into “pig-girl,” but dared not utter it aloud just there. Next day in school was a different matter. At noon recess Faith encountered Dan in the little spruce plantation behind the school and Dan shouted once more,
“Pig-girl! Pig-girl! Rooster-girl!”
Walter Blythe suddenly rose from a mossy cushion behind a little clump of firs where he had been reading. He was very pale, but his eyes blazed.
“You hold your tongue, Dan Reese!” he said.
“Oh, hello, Miss Walter,” retorted Dan, not at all abashed. He vaulted airily to the top of the rail fence and chanted insultingly,
Stole a pot of mustard,
“You are a coincidence!” said Walter scornfully, turning still whiter. He had only a very hazy idea what a coincidence was, but Dan had none at all and thought it must be something peculiarly opprobrious.
“Yah! Cowardy!” he yelled gain. “Your mother writes lies—lies— lies! And Faith Meredith is a pig-girl—a—pig-girl—a pig-girl! And she’s a rooster-girl—a rooster-girl—a rooster-girl! Yah! Cowardy—cowardy—cust—”