“Does Mr. Beck live near you?” asked our hero, a little later.
“Bless you! he lives in our place.”
“I suppose his services are in demand?”
“Yes, he is sent for to all the towns around. Fact is, there isn’t anybody but he that can play to suit; but I expect, from what I’ve heard, that you can come up to him.”
“I couldn’t expect to do that,” said Philip modestly. “I am very young yet.”
“Folks do say you beat Paul. It seems wonderful, too, considering how young you are. What might be your age, now?”
“Sho! you don’t say so? Why, Paul Beck’s over fifty.”
“Mr. Beck won’t think I’m interfering with him, will he?” asked Philip.
“Of course, he can’t. We’d a had him if he was well. We can’t be expected to put off the party because he’s sick. That wouldn’t be reasonable, now, would it?”
“I should think not.”
Just then Philip became sensible that a light wagon was approaching, driven by a young lady.
He did not, however, suppose it was any one he knew till the carriage stopped, and he heard a voice saying:
“Good morning, Mr. Gray!”
Then he discovered that it was the same young lady who had asked for an introduction to him the evening previous.
“Good morning, Miss Snodgrass!” he said politely, remembering, fortunately, the young lady’s name.
Meanwhile, Maria and Philip’s drivers had also exchanged salutations, for they were acquainted.
“And where are you carrying Mr. Gray, Mr. Blake?” she asked.
“I’m carrying him over to our place. He’s going to play for us this evening.”
“Is there going to be a dance in Conway this evening?” inquired Miss Snodgrass, with sudden interest.
“Yes. Won’t you come over?”
“I will, if I can get Jedidiah to bring me,” answered Maria.
“I guess there’s no doubt about that,” answered Andrew Blake, who knew very well Jedidiah’s devotion to the young lady.
“Oh, I don’t know!” answered Maria coquettishly. “Perhaps he won’t care for my company.”
“If he doesn’t, you won’t have any trouble in finding another beau.”
After a little more conversation, the young lady drove away; but not without expressing to Philip her delight at having another chance to hear his beautiful playing.
“She’ll be there,” said Andrew Blake, as they drove away. “She makes Jedidiah Burbank do just as she orders him.”
“Are they engaged?” asked our hero.
“Yes, I expect so; but there may be some chance of your cutting him out, if you try. The young lady seems to admire you.”
“I am only a boy of sixteen,” he said. “I am too young to think of such things. I won’t interfere with Mr. Burbank.”
“Jedidiah’s apt to be jealous,” said Blake, “and Maria likes to torment him. However, she’ll end by marrying him, I guess.”