“’T is the last time I set foot in your church, Mrs. Meredith,” he declared, loudly enough to make it evident that he desired those filing out of the doors to hear. “Never before have I—”
“Hold thy tongue, Lambert!” interrupted Mrs. Meredith, in a low voice. “Dost think to make a scene on the Sabbath?”
“Then let your parson hold his,” retorted Mr. Meredith, but like a well-trained husband, in so low a voice as to be inaudible to all but the occupants of the sleigh. “Ge wug, Joggles! What is the land coming to, when such doctrines are preached in the pulpits; when those in authority are told ’t is their duty to do what the riff-raff think best? As well let their brats and bunters tell us what to do. They’ll not force me to attend their meeting, nor to yield a jot.”
In fulfilment of his assertion, the squire sat quietly at home on the afternoon that the popular opinion of the county sought to voice itself, nodding his head over a volume of “Hale’s Compleat Body of Husbandry.” But as night drew near he was roused from his nap by the riding up of Squire Hennion and Philemon. Let it be confessed that, despite Mr. Meredith’s contempt for what he styled the “mobocracy,” his first question concerned the meeting.
“A pooty mess yer’ve made of it, Meredith,” growled Mr. Hennion.
“I!” cried the squire, indignantly. “’T is naught I had to do with it.”
“An’ ’t is thet ‘ere keepin’ away dun the harm,” scolded the elder Hennion. “Swamp it, yer let the hotheads control! Had all like yer but attended, they ’d never hev bin able to carry some of them ’ere resolushuns. On mor’n one resolve a single vote would hev bin a negative.”
“Pooh!” sneered the squire. “Sit down and warm thy feet while thee cools thy head, man. Ye’ll not get me to believe that one vote only was needed to prevent ’em indorsing the Congress association.”
“Sartin they approved the Congress doins, nemine contradicente, as they wuz baound ter do since all aginst kep away, but—”
“Dost mean to say ye voted for it?” demanded Mr. Meredith.
Squire Hennion’s long, shrewd face slightly broadened as he smiled. “I wuz jest stepped over ter the ordinary ter git a nipperkin of ale when thet ere vote wuz took.”
“Who let the hotheads control, then?” jerked out Mr. Meredith.
“’T ain’t no sort of use ter hev my neebours set agin me.”
“And ye’ll vote at Burlington as they tell ye?” fumed the squire.
“I’m rayther fearsome my rheumatiz will keep me ter hum this winter weather. I’ve had some mortal bad twinges naow an’ agin.”
“Now damn me!” swore the squire, rising and pacing the room with angry strides. “And ye come here to blame me for neglecting a chance to check ’em.”
“I duz,” responded Hennion. “If I go ter Assembly, ‘t won’t prevent theer votin’ fer what they wants. But if yer had attended thet ‘ere meetin’, we could hev stopped them from votin’ ter git up a militia company an’ ter buy twenty barrels—”