“All I wants ter,” said Phil, sulkily. “An’ I guess that ere’s the feelin’ pretty generally.”
“Why?” demanded Tabitha, after a glance at Janice.
“’Cause of the airs he takes. He called me a put because I was a bit slow—ter his mind—in learnin’ the manual, an’ he’s got a tongue an’ a temper like a hedgehog. But the fellers paid him off come Saturday week.”
“How?” asked Janice, dropping her pose of indifference.
“He ‘s been expectin’ ter be appointed captain of the Brunswick Invincibles, when they was trained, but he put on such airs, an’ was so sharp an’ bitin’ with his tongue, that when they voted for officers last week I’ll be dinged if they did n’t drop him altogether. He did n’t get a vote for so much as a corporal’s rank. He was in a stew, I tells you.”
“What did he do?” questioned Tabitha.
“He was so took aback,” snickered Philemon, “that he up and says ’t was the last he’d have ter do with ’em, an’ that they was a lot of clouts an’ clodpates, an’ they ’d got a captain ter match.”
“Was that you?” cruelly asked Janice.
“No. ’T was Joe Bagby,” replied Phil, not so much as seeing the point.
“The village loafer and ne’er-do-weel,” exclaimed Janice, reflecting her father’s view.
“He ain’t idlin’ much these-a-days,” asserted Philemon, “and the boys all like him for his jokes an’ good-nature. I tell you ‘t was great sport ter see him an’ your redemptioner give it ter each other. Fownes, he said that if ’t were n’t better sport ter catch rabbits, he’d mightily enjoy chasm’ the whole company of Invincibles with five grenadiers of the guard, an’ Bagby he sassed back by sayin’ that Charles need n’t be so darned cocky, for he’d run from the regulars hisself, an’ then your man tells Joe ter give his red rag a holiday by talkin’ about what he know’d of, for then he’d have ter be silent, an’ then the captain says he was a liar, and Charles knocks him down, an’ stood over him and made him take it back. An’ Bagby he takes it back, sayin’ as how his own words was very good eatin’ anyways. I tell you, the whole town enjoyed that ’ere afternoon.”
“I suppose they made you an officer?” said Miss Meredith, with unconcealed contempt.
“No, Miss Janice,” Philemon eagerly denied, “an’ that ’s what I come over to tell you. Seem’ that you an’ the squire did n’t like my drillin’, I’ve left the company, an I won’t go back, I pass you my word.”
“’T is nothing to me what you do,” responded Janice, crushingly.
“Don’t say that, Miss Janice,” entreated Phil.
“Is thee not ashamed,” exclaimed Tabitha, “to seek to marry a girl against her wishes? If I were Janice, I’d never so much as look at thee.”
“She never said as how she—” stammered Hennion.
“That was nothing,” continued Tibbie. “Thee shouldst have known it. The idea of asking the father first!”
“But that ’s the regular way,” ejaculated Phil, in evident bewilderment.