“What do you mean by that, Squire Pope?” asked Philip quickly.
“Young man, I do not choose to be catechized,” said Squire Pope, in a dignified manner; “but I have no objections to tell you that I have made arrangements with Mr. Tucker to take you into the poorhouse.”
“I’ve heard that before, but I couldn’t believe it,” said Philip proudly.
“I guess you’ll have to believe it pretty soon, he, he!” laughed Zeke, with a grin which indicated his high delight. “I guess dad’ll make you stand round when he gits you into the poor-house.”
“Don’t you consider me capable of earning my own living, Squire Pope?” asked Philip.
“Ahem! Yes, you will be one of these days. You won’t have to stay in the almshouse all your life.”
“You’ll have a chance to earn your livin’ with me.” said Mr. Tucker. “I shall give you something to do, you may depend.”
“You can make him saw and split wood, father, and do the chores and milk the cow,” suggested Zeke.
“I have no objection to doing any of those things for a farmer,” said Philip, “but I am not willing to do it where I shall be considered a pauper.”
“Kinder uppish!” suggested Mr. Tucker, turning to Squire Pope. “Most all of them paupers is proud; but it’s pride in the wrong place, I reckon.”
“If it is pride to want to earn an independent living, and not live on charity, then I am proud,” continued Philip.
“Well, squire, how is it to be,” asked Mr. Tucker.
“Philip,” said Squire Pope pompously, “you are very young, and you don’t know what is best for you. We do, and you must submit. Mr. Tucker, take him and put him in the wagon, and we’ll drive over to the poorhouse.”
“What! now?” asked Philip, in dismay.
“Just so,” answered Joe Tucker. “When you’ve got your bird, don’t let him go, that’s what I say.”
“That’s the talk, dad!” said Zeke gladfully. “We’ll take down his pride, I guess, when we’ve got him home.”
Joe Tucker approached Philip, and was about to lay hold of him, when our hero started back.
“You needn’t lay hold of me, Mr. Tucker,” he said. “I will get into the wagon if Squire Pope insists upon it.”
“I’m glad you’re gettin’ sensible,” said the squire, congratulating himself on finding Philip more tractable than he expected.
“And you will go to the poorhouse peaceful, and without making a fuss?” asked Joe.
“Yes, I will go there; but I won’t stay there.”
“You won’t stay there!” ejaculated the squire.
“No, sir! In treating me as a dependent on charity, you are doing what neither you nor any other man has a right to do,” said Philip firmly.
“You don’t appear to remember that I am a selectman and overseer of the poor,” said the Squire.
“I am aware that you hold those offices; but if so, you ought to save money to the town, and not compel them to pay for my support, when I am willing and able to support myself.”