Had the parents attempted to carry out the system of espionage that they enforced during the first month they would have had their hands full far longer than they dreamed. Week after week sped by, summer ripened into fall, and fall faded into winter, but Philemon came not. Little by little Janice’s misconduct ceased to be a general theme of village talk, and the life at Greenwood settled back into its accustomed groove. Even the mutter of cannon before Boston was but a matter of newspaper news, and the war, though now fairly inaugurated, affected the squire chiefly by the loss of the bondsman, for whom he advertised in vain.
One incident which happened shortly after the proposed elopement, and which cannot be passed over without mention, was a call from Squire Hennion on Mr. Meredith. The master of Boxely opened the interview by shaking his fist within a few inches of the rubicund countenance of the master of Greenwood, and, suiting his words to the motion, he roared: “May Belza take yer, yer old—” and the particular epithet is best omitted, the eighteenth-century vocabulary being more expressive than refined—“fer sendin’ my boy ter Boston, wheer, belike, he’ll never git away alive.”
“Don’t try to bully me!” snorted the squire, shaking his fist in turn, and much nearer to the hatchet-face of his antipathy. “Put that down or I’ll teach ye manners! Yes, damn ye, for the first time in your life ye shall be made to behave like a gentleman!”
“I defy yer ter make me!” retorted Hennion, with unconscious humour.
“Heyday!” said Mrs. Meredith, entering, “what ’s the cause of all this hurly-burly?”
“Enuf cause, an’ ter spare,” howled Hennion. “Here this—” once more the title is left blank for propriety’s sake— “hez beguiled poor Phil inter goin’ on some fool errand ter Boston, an’ the feller knew so well I would n’t hev it thet all he dun wuz ter write me a line, tellin’ how this—insisted he should go, an’ thet he’d started. ‘Twixt yer whiffet of a gal an’ yer old—of a husband, yer’ve bewitched all the sense the feller ever hed in his noddle, durn yer!”
“Let him talk,” jeered the squire. “’T will not bring Phil back. What’s more, I’ll make him smile the other side of his teeth before I’ve done with him. Harkee, man, I’ve a rod in pickle that will make ye cry small.” The squire took a bundle of papers from an iron box and flourished them under Hennion s nose “There are assignments of every mortgage ye owe, ye old fox, and pay day ’s coming.”
“Let it,” sneered the owner of Boxely. “Yer think I did n’t know, I s’pose? Waal, thet ’s wheer yer aout. Phil, he looked so daown in the maouth just afore yer went ter York thet I knew theer must be somethin’ ter make him act so pukish, an’ I feels araound a bit, an’ as he ain’t the best hand at deceivin’ I hez the fac’s in no time. An’ as I could n’t hev them ’ere mortgages in better hands, I tell ’d him ter go ahead an’ help yer all he could. ’T was I gave him the list of them I owed.”