THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF QUINCY ADAMS SAWYER AND MASON'S CORNER FOLKS
A Novel By Charles Felton Pidgin Author of "Quincy Adams Sawyer," "Blennerhassett," "Stephen Holton," etc.
Illustrated by Henry Roth
To My Daughter Dora
Eight years ago, "Quincy Adams Sawyer and Mason's Corner Folks" was published, being heralded, truthfully, as the work of an "unknown author." It met with favour from reviewers and the reading public. My pleasantest souvenirs are hundreds of letters, from personally unknown correspondents, wishing to know more about "Quincy" and the other characters in my first story.
I know that few, if any, "sequels" are considered as interesting as the original work, and an author, to a certain extent, tempts fate in writing one. But if we visit friends and have a pleasant time there seems to be no reason why another invitation should not be accepted. So, if a book pleases its readers, and the characters therein become their friends, why should not these readers be invited to renew their acquaintance?
They may not enjoy themselves as much as at their first visit, but that is the unavoidable result of repetition. The human mind craves novelty, and, perhaps, the reader will find it, after all, within these pages.
C. F. P.
WIDEVIEW FARM, BELMONT, MASS. August, 1908.
I. THE GOVERNOR'S SPEECH II. A DAY WITH THE GOVERNOR III. A VACATION AT FERNBOROUGH IV. THE HAWKINS HOUSE V. 'ZEKE PETTINGILL'S FARM VI. "JUST LIKE OLD TIMES" VII. STROUT AND MAXWELL'S GROCERY VIII. UNCLE IKE AND OTHERS IX. A "STORY" SERMON X. THE RAISED CHECK XL. THE WRECK OF THE ALTONIA XII. FERNBOROUGH HALL XIII. "HORNABY HOOK" XIV. AN AMERICAN HEIRESS XV. AN ELOPEMENT XVI. YOUNG QUINCY XVII. HIS FATHER'S FRIENDS XVIII. AN OLD STRIFE RENEWED XIX. BOYHOOD TO MANHOOD XX. MARY DANA XXI. AT HARVARD XXII. ALICE'S DREAM XXIII. "BY THE BEAUTIFUL BLUE DANUBE" XXIV. "WE THREE" XXV. A PERIOD OF TWENTY-THREE YEARS XXVI. "CATESSA" XXVII. O. STROUT. FINE GROCIERIES XXVIII. THE HOME COMING XXIX. THE FINAL CONFLICT XXX. TOM, JACK AND NED XXXI. THE GREAT ISBURN RUBY XXXII. "IT WAS SO SUDDEN"
The Further Adventures of Quincy Adams Sawyer and Mason's Corner Folks
THE GOVERNOR'S SPEECH
When the applause had subsided, Governor Sawyer began to speak.
"My Friends and Fellow Citizens: When I stood before the representatives chosen by the people, and an audience composed of the most eminent men and women in the State, and took the oath to support the constitution of my native State and that of my country, my heart was filled with what I deemed an honest pride. My fellow citizens had chosen me to fill the most exalted position in their power to bestow, and when the Secretary of the Commonwealth uttered the well-known words which your toastmaster has just repeated—God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—I felt in every fibre of my body that I would be true to my oath and to the people who had shown their confidence in me.
"But the satisfaction I felt on that occasion was no greater than that which I experience to-night. I came among you entirely unknown. I have heard that some wondered whether I was a city swell, what my business was, what led me to choose your town for a vacation, and how long that vacation was to be, especially as I came in the winter when country life is popularly, but erroneously, supposed to be dull.
"By some I was welcomed,—others—I don't blame them—refused to extend to me the hand of fellowship. But, I liked some of your people so well—and one in particular"—all eyes were turned towards his wife, who bore the scrutiny bravely—"that I determined to stay—and I did."
Hiram Maxwell could not forget past events in which he had figured prominently and cried, "Three cheers for Quincy Adams Sawyer," which were given with a will, and accompanied by many expressions of approval in the shape of clapping of hands, pounding of canes, and stamping of thick-soled boots. The Governor continued his remarks.
"I staid so long that I might have become a voter. I did not, but besides my native city of Boston, I shall always render my allegiance to this town, which turned the current of my life into such happy channels.
"I will not weary you with a long speech."
Cries of "Go on," "We can stand it," came from all parts of the hall, and Mrs. Hawkins said to Olive Green, "He's a beautiful speaker. I could listen to him all night if it wa'n't for gettin' breakfast for my boarders. My bread didn't ris worth a cent, and I've got to git up airly and make biscuits."
His Excellency went on, "I want you to make Fernborough, the Mason's Corner of five years ago, a beautiful town—more beautiful than it is now." Make good, wide roads, don't call them streets, and have wide tires on your wagons to preserve them. Plant trees both for grateful shade and natural beauty. Support your Village Improvement Society by suggestions and contributions. Attend town meeting regularly, be economical but not stingy in your appropriations, pay good salaries and wages for honest service. Be partisans if you wish, in State and National elections, but in choosing your town servants, get the best men regardless of politics.
"Support and constantly aim to elevate the standard of education in your schools, and remember that the mother and the teacher are the makers of those who are to rule in the future.
"Do these things, and you will make Fernborough a worthy member of that galaxy of communities which represents the civic virtues and possibilities in the highest degree—our New England towns, in which the government is by the people, of the people, and for the people, and may God grant that these bulwarks of our freedom may ever be preserved."
It was decided by the committee to have a reception in the Selectmen's room. It was conveniently arranged for such a purpose, having a door at either end, besides the double one near the middle. At the request of Selectman and Toastmaster Strout, the Governor and his wife and the Countess of Sussex, formerly Lindy Putnam, stood in line to greet the citizens of Fernborough.
First came Benoni Hill, who had increased in rotundity since selling his grocery store and giving up an active life.
"How much is flour a barrel?" asked Quincy as he shook hands with him.
"When I kept the store myself everything I wanted I got at wholesale, but now your partners charge me full price."
"That's right," said Quincy. "You got a good price for the store, and now we're trying to get some of it back," and he laughed heartily as he extended his hand to young Samuel Hill. His wife, the former Miss Tilly James, was with him.
"I am pleased to meet a lion-tamer," said Tilly.
"I never saw a live one," said Quincy, somewhat puzzled by the remark.
"Oh, yes, you have. Our local lion, Obadiah Strout, is as tame as a dove, and we owe it to you."
"If I remember aright, a certain Miss Tilly James aided me when I gave the first lesson."
"Oh! you mean the time you whistled 'Listen to the Mocking Bird.' I wish you had repeated it to-night."
Cobb's Twins, William and James, with their wives, were next in line.
"How's farming?" asked Quincy.
"Bill and I," said James, "spend most of our time on our own places, but we help 'Zeke and Hiram out on their hayin' an' potato diggin'."
"Samantha," said Quincy, addressing Mrs. James Cobb, "do you remember the first time I came to see Miss Putnam?"
"Oh, yes, I'd heard about you goin' round with Huldy Mason. Didn't I laugh when I showed you into Aunt Heppy's room? She did the hearin' for both of 'em, for you remember her husband, Silas, was as deaf as a stone post."
"Mrs. Putnam found out all about me before I got away. I shall never forget what she told me about her husband sitting on the ridge pole of the barn, blowing his horn, and waiting for Gabriel to come for him."
As Robert Wood came up, Quincy stepped from the line to greet him.
"Your hand ain't quite as hard as it was five years ago," said Robert.
"No, I'm out of practice. You could handle me now."
"It cost me two dollars to get my watch fixed," said Robert, irrelevantly.
"I was on time in that affair," said Quincy, conscious, when too late, that he had wasted a pun on an obtuse individual. "Are you still carpentering?"
"Yes. Lots of new houses going up, and Ben Bates and me have all we can handle. Here, Ben, come here. The Governor's askin' 'bout you."
Benjamin Bates was rather diffident, and had been holding back, but at Bob's invitation came forward.
"How d'ye do, Governor?" was his salutation. Diffidence when forced to action often verges on forwardness.
"Glad to meet you again," said Quincy. "Robert says they keep you busy."
"Yes, we don't have so many resting spells now they use donkey engines as we did when Pat or Mike had to climb the ladder."
"The march of improvement forces us all into line," said Quincy as he greeted Miss Seraphina Cotton.
"Teaching school, now, Miss Cotton?"
"No, your Excellency, I am fortunately relieved from what became, near the end of my long years of service, an intolerable drudgery. Teaching American children to talk English is one thing, but teaching French Canadians, Poles, Germans, Russians, Italians, and Greeks was quite a different proposition."
"And yet it is a most important work," said Quincy—"making good citizens from these various nationalities. America, to-day, is like a large garden, with a great variety of flowers from foreign stalks."
Miss Cotton smiled somewhat satirically. "I'm afraid, your Excellency, if you'd ever been a school teacher, you'd have found many weeds in the garden."
"But how did you gain your freedom?" asked Quincy. "Did they pension you?"
"Oh, no. An uncle died out West and left me enough with which to buy an annuity. I board with the Reverend Mr. Howe. You remember him?"
"Why, certainly, I do. And here's his son, Emmanuel—have I got the name right?"
"Yes, Governor, just right as to sound. I spell it with an 'E' and two M's," said young Mr. Howe, as Miss Cotton moved on to tell of her good fortune to Alice and Linda.
"How's your father, now? Does he preach every Sunday?"
"Reg'lar as clock work. Of course I couldn't tell everybody, but I reckon he's using some old sermons that he wrote forty years ago, but the young ones never heard them, and the old ones have forgotten." Quincy laughed. Ministers' sons are seldom appalled by worldly ways and, quite often, adopt them.
"This is Arthur Scates," said Mr. Strout, as he presented a young man with sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, and an emaciated body. "He ain't enjoyin' the best of health."
"Ah, I remember," said Quincy. "You are the young man who was to sing at the concert when I first came here. I took your place, and that act turned out to be the most important one in my life. I owe much of my present happiness to you. What is your trouble?"
"My lungs are affected. I have lost my voice and cannot sing. I had counted on becoming an opera singer."
"Why do you not go to one of the out-door hospitals for treatment?"
The young man's face flushed, and he remained silent.
"Pardon me," said Quincy. "I understand. Come to Boston next week, to the State House, and I will see that you have the best of treatment."
"Wall, Mr. Sawyer, it does one's eyes good to set 'em on you again. This is Olive Green,—you remember her sister Betsey worked for me when you was one of my boarders." The woman's voice was loud and strident, and filled the room.
"Mrs. Hawkins, I shall never forget you and Miss Betsey Green, and how you both tried to make my stay with you a pleasant one."
"You've put on consid'rable flesh since I saw yer last. Guess you've been taking your meals reg'lar, which you never did when you lived with me. But your market's made now, and that makes the difference. They say folks in love have poor appetites." She laughed loudly, and stopped only when Olive put a restraining hand on her arm. "I hope Alice is a good cook, but she never had much chance to learn."
Quincy thought it was time to change the subject. "How's Mr. Hawkins?"
"I tell him he's just as lazy as ever. He's kalkerlatin' on getting three good broods of chickens. He's gone on chickens. He wanted to come tonight, but we've lots of boarders, and they're allus wantin' ice water or somethin' else, and so I told him he'd got to stay to home. You'll have plenty of time to see him to-morrer."
Many others greeted the Governor and his right hand felt the effect of so many hearty grips, some of them of the horny-handed variety.
The Cottonton Brass Band was now stationed in the hall, and a short concert closed the evening's entertainment, which was allowed, by all, to be the most high-toned affair ever given in the town.
As Quincy laid his head upon his pillow that night, his mind reverted to his first arrival at Mason's Corner, and the events that had taken place since.
"Alice, five years ago, could your wildest imagination have conjured up such an evening as this?"
"No, Quincy. What has taken place in our lives is truly wonderful. My daily prayer is that these happy days may last."
A DAY WITH THE GOVERNOR
Governor Sawyer sat in the Executive Chamber at the State House. It was eleven o'clock on the morning following the festivities at Fernborough. Quincy and Alice had staid over night at the Hawkins' House, and Ezekiel in the morning urged them strongly to wait a day and see what great improvements he had made on the old farm which had been so neglected during the last years of Mrs. Putnam's life. But Quincy said his presence in Boston was imperative, that certain matters required his attention, and so the earliest train brought him and his wife to the city. Quincy left the carriage under the arch at the State House.
Alice was driven to the well-known house on Mount Vernon Street, in which Aunt Ella had lived so long, but which had lost much of its cheerfulness, and all of its Bohemianism since that lady had gone to England and become Lady Fernborough.
The Executive Chamber was a large room, and simply furnished with a flat top desk of wine-red mahogany, a bookcase, and a few chairs. A door to the left led to the office of the private secretary; the one to the right to a short and narrow corridor across which was the door of the Council Chamber—a room occupied by that last link between democratic and aristocratic government. It must not be inferred that the members of the Council are aristocrats—far from it, but with the lieutenant-governor they form a "house of lords" which may or may not agree with the policies of the chief magistrate. They can aid him greatly, or they can "clip his wings" and materially curb his freedom of action. The Council is a relic of the old provincial and colonial days, its inherited aristocratic body clothed in democratic garments. As its duties could be performed by the Senate without loss of dignity, and with pecuniary saving, its retention as a part of the body politic is due to the "let well enough alone" policy of the American citizen which has supplanted the militant, progressive democracy of his forefathers.
At the end of the short corridor was the office of the Executive Secretary and his stenographer from which, through an opening hung with portieres, one passed into the general reception room where the faithful messenger stood guard, authorized to learn the business of each new-comer.
The private secretary had opened the mail and had assorted it as "ordinary," "important," and "most important." For an hour the Governor dictated steadily, and it would take several hours' clicking of the typewriter before the letters and documents were ready for his signature.
The waiting-room was now filled with persons desiring audience with his Excellency. A well-known city lawyer and ward politician was the first to enter.
The Governor arose, came forward, and extended his hand. "Good- morning, Mr. Nutting."
"Are you going to send in the names of the Industrial Expansion Committee to-day?"
"I have intended to do so."
"Well, I want to say a good word for Mr. Collingwood. He is promoting a company to develop water power on the Upper Connecticut above Holyoke. He is a client of mine, and I can vouch for his business ability and his desire to improve and increase our manufacturing facilities."
The Governor was silent for a time. He was busily thinking. No doubt this Mr. Collingwood was concerned financially, indirectly if not directly, in the proposed company he was promoting, and perhaps Mr. Nutting himself would profit far beyond his normal legal fee if Mr. Collingwood was named on the commission. Mr. Nutting noticed the delay of his Excellency in replying.
"It will be all right if you send his name in. There will be no doubt of his confirmation."
Again the Governor thought. The four wheels of the executive coach were in good order, but, apparently, the fifth wheel had been put in condition for use, if it became necessary.
"Here are Mr. Collingwood's endorsements," said Mr. Nutting, as he placed a large packet of papers on the governor's desk.
"Thank you, Mr. Nutting. I will give them consideration."
Mr. Nutting withdrew, and the lieutenant-governor, who had arrived late, was given precedence over the others in the reception room. After the customary salutations, the lieutenant-governor seated himself in the governor's chair, which Quincy had temporarily vacated, and lighted a cigar.
"Are you going to send in Venton's name?"
"He is inexperienced."
"I know it, but he'll learn. If, following precedent, I become your successor, he will be of great help to me in certain lines."
There was a slight frown on the governor's face. "Mr. Williams, the present head of the department, has held it for many years, is a most efficient man, and I have heard no complaints." "I know that," said his Honour, David Evans, "but he's getting old, and rotation in office is one of the principles of our Bill of Rights."
"I am well aware of that," said the governor, "but retention in office for good and efficient service is one of the principles of our civil service law."
Mr. Evans arose and flicked the ashes from his cigar upon the rich carpet which covered the floor.
"Am I to understand then that you will renominate Williams? Let me say now that there is strong opposition to him in the Council and he may fail of confirmation. Will you send Venton's name in then?"
"I think I should send Mr. Williams' name in again."
"But, suppose he is turned down the second time?" asked Mr. Evans.
"I think I should continue sending in his name until good and sufficient reasons were given for his rejection. This is not a voting contest between two nominees. I am convinced Mr. Williams is the best man for the place. Such being my opinion, to withdraw his name, would be a self-stultification, and, to speak plainly,"—and his jaw was firmly set,—"an acknowledgment that the Council is a stronger arm of the government than the Chief Executive."
Mr. Evans was evidently indignant. "Well, Mr. Venton is backed by men who contribute heartily for campaign expenses. If you can get along without their aid this fall have your man Williams," and Mr. Evans strode from the room with a curt "Good-morning."
The private secretary laid some papers on the governor's desk. The first one that he examined conferred certain valuable privileges, in perpetuity, upon a corporation without requiring any compensation for the franchise. The property thus alienated from public use had been paid for by the people's money. In response to a vigorous push on an electric button, the private secretary appeared.
"Send for Senator Downing. I must see him immediately."
His Excellency thought, "How can the people's so-called representatives give away the property of the people so indiscriminately? It would not do to mention it, without proof, but I am convinced that all such public robberies are for private gain. Ah, good-morning, Senator."
Senator Downing was a short, heavily-built man, with dark hair, black eyes, and a jaw and chin indicative of bull-dog pertinacity.
"In your bill, Senate 513, I notice that the railroad Company is not called upon to pay for the great privilege conferred."
"Why should they? It simply gives them a quick connection with tide- water, and reduced transportation charges means lower prices."
"How will prices be regulated?" was the Governor's query.
"As they always have been," replied the Senator brusquely. "Supply and demand—"
"And by combinations called trusts," added the Governor. "Cannot some provision be made by which the Company will pay a yearly rental? It will reduce the burden of taxation just so much."
"Perhaps if you recommend it, some attention will be given it, but I should not care to prejudice my political standing by endorsing such an amendment."
"I will consider the question carefully," said Quincy, wearily, as he laid down the bill, and Senator Downing departed.
The next bill was what was called "a labour measure." It gave members of trade unions a right demanded by them, called "peaceful picketing;" in other words, during a strike, the right to use argument, persuasion, in fact any rightful inducement to keep a non- union man from working for the "struck" firm or corporation. The bill had been passed by a majority of 48 in the House, and by the narrow margin of one vote in the Senate. A tie had been expected when the President of the Senate, who was a prominent manufacturer was counted upon to kill the bill. If the Governor vetoed it, the Senate would probably sustain the veto, throwing the greater responsibility upon him, each member voting against the bill sheltering himself behind the veto. Thus do partisans play politics with the head of their party. While he was reading the bill the lieutenant-governor was ushered in again.
"Downing has been talking with me about his bill. He says you are going to veto it."
"I did not say so. I asked him his reasons for turning over public property for private use and gain, and he did not seem well-prepared to answer me."
Mr. Evans replied, "The best reason, to my mind is, that the heaviest tax payers, members of our party, are all in favour of the bill."
"Are they numerous enough to elect a governor who will do their bidding?"
"Perhaps not, but their money is powerful enough to do it"—he paused—"if it becomes necessary."
The Governor arose, and Mr. Evans, influenced by the action, did the same. The two men faced each other.
"Mr. Evans," and the Governor seemed to increase in stature, "I fully understand your last remark—if it becomes necessary. You shall have an open field. I prize the great honour that has been conferred upon me by placing me here, but I must confess I dislike the duties, circumscribed as they are by personal and political influences. I can understand, now, why a ruler wishes to be an autocrat. It is the only way in which he can make his personality a part of his body. I shall not be a candidate for re-election this autumn. I wish my personal freedom of action, and I prize it more than fame or power."
"May I mention your decision to the leaders of the party?"
"If you so desire. From this moment I am to be untrammelled except by my official oath."
Mr. Evans took his leave, evidently pleased with a part of what he had heard, and in a short time was closeted with some leading politicians in a private room of a prominent hotel.
The Governor resumed his reading of the labour bill, but was aroused from his contemplation of its provisions by the entrance of Mr. Amos Acton. Mr. Acton was secretary of a manufacturer's association. He was tall and spare. His hair was sandy in hue, and his mouth twitched nervously.
"Your Excellency, I came to see you about that picketing bill. If it becomes a law our manufacturers will be driven from the State. They are now seriously handicapped by the vigorous provisions of existing laws. I trust your Excellency will not add to our present burdens."
"I have read the bill, Mr. Acton. It seems conservative, with full provision for the protection of life and property."
"That's not the question. When Union men strike we must have the Non- Union men to fill their places; but this bill says the Non-Union man shan't work."
"It says the Union man may persuade him, peacefully, not to work."
"We all know what that means. If he does work, he will be called a 'scab' and his family will be ostracized in every possible way."
"It is hard to draw the line," said the governor. "You say, or imply, that every man has a right to work for whoever will employ him. Granted. But do you always give him work when he wants it? Do you pay him what he asks, or do you not fix the rate of wage? You must realize the fact that collective bargaining has superseded dealing with the individual."
"Some of us do not allow that," said Mr. Acton.
"I know it, and that causes the difficulty. Your relations with your employees should be based upon trade agreements, legalized and strongly adhered to by both sides."
"I have just come from a meeting of leading manufacturers," said Mr. Acton, "and they wished me to express to you their urgent request, I may say solicitation, that you will veto this bill."
After Mr. Acton's departure, Quincy rang for his secretary, to whom he delivered the papers containing his official decisions.
Mr. Williams was renominated for the position that he had so long and so ably filled.
As members of "The Industrial Expansion Commission" nine manufacturers were named, one for each of the leading industries of the State, chosen independent of known or presumed political affiliations; Mr. Collingwood's name was not among them.
A vigorous veto of the bill giving a private corporation control of public property was sent to the Senate.
The "peaceful picketing" bill was signed.
The door opened, and a pretty face looked in.
"Come in, Maude—I've just finished." As the secretary withdrew, keeping his eyes fixed on the governor's youngest sister, she advanced slowly into the room. The door closed automatically and Maude tip-toed to her brother's side, returning his welcoming kiss.
"What's his name?" she asked, pointing towards the self-closing door.
"My secretary? Harry Merry," said Quincy, "but the press boys all call him Sober Harry."
"I think he's just splendid," said the impulsive Maude—"such beautiful eyes! But that isn't what I came for. I went up to your house and just brought Alice down to ours, and she told me all about the fine time you had and your speech. Will it be printed?"
"Mr. Sylvester Chisholm, editor of the Fernborough Gazette was there and a faithful transcript of my feeble remarks will, no doubt, appear in his paper."
"Feeble!" said Maude contemptuously. "Have you been doing feeble things since you came back?"
"No, Maude, I have done some very strenuous things, and I shall be glad to get home to my family."
Maude repeated, seriously,
"To make a happy fireside clime For weans and wife Is the true pathos, and sublime, Of human life.
"But you are not going home," she continued,—"you are invited to dinner with your respected pa and ma and your two young—"
"And beautiful sisters," added Quincy with a laugh. "I'll come, but you must play the latest popular songs for me, and Alice will sing 'Sweet, Sweet Home,' and perhaps I can forget the cares of State— until to-morrow, anyway."
Maude flounced out of the door tossing a kiss from the tips of her fingers, to the astonishment of Sober Harry who had just entered, and who wished, from the bottom of his heart, that the flying salutation had been for him.
A VACATION AT FERNBOROUGH
The Hon. Nathaniel Adams Sawyer did not dine at home that evening. Quincy's mother said that he had gone to Salem but would return later. After dinner the little company of five repaired to the parlour. Maude sang negro melodies despite the protests of her mother, and her sister Florence's assertion that they were only sung at cheap variety shows.
"How do you know that?" cried Maude. "Did Reginald tell you?"
"Who is Reginald?" asked Quincy.
"Oh," said Maude, tossing her head, "he's Florence's latest. She met him night before last—"
"Maude!" Her sister's voice was full of angry protest. "Don't say another word."
"Such matters," said her mother mildly, "are not suitable subjects for general conversation. There is a privacy about them which should be respected."
"We'll leave Florence out of it, then," said Maude. "I met him at Mrs. Dulton's reception. His name is Capt. Reginald Hornaby, and he's the fourth son of Sir Wilfred Hornaby, of Hornaby Hook, Hornaby, England—don't you know," and she winked spitefully at Florence.
"He told me all that himself," she continued, "so I know it must be so. Won't it be nice to have a place in England where we can make ourselves at home?"
"Aunt Ella will be glad to see you at any time," remarked Quincy. "Why don't you go back with her? She'd be delighted."
"I would but for one thing," replied Maude. "I'm afraid I might fall in love with an Englishman, and one title in the family is enough."
Alice interposed: "Aunt Ella has an English husband with a title."
"Yes," said Maude, "but he has his title, while Reggie is four blocks away from the fire."
"You're as big a tease as ever," and Quincy drew his favourite sister towards him. "Don't plague Flossie any more. Think of your possible fate. You may marry a Jap."
"I know a lovely little Jap, now. His name is Hioshato Konuka. Oh, Alice, won't you stay all night? When are you going on your vacation, Quincy?"
"In about ten days, if the legislature is prorogued by that time."
"Where are you going?" asked his mother.
"Alice wishes to go to Fernborough for a week or two, and then we shall go to Nantucket."
"Will the Earl and Sir Stuart pay us a visit?" was the next question.
"I invited them in your name, mother, but Linda and Aunt Ella were anxious to get back to their yacht at Nantucket. They will sail from there to New York and take the steamer home next week."
"Is the Countess of Sussex' sister-in-law, the Lady Elfrida, married yet?" asked Florence.
"I understand she is engaged," Quincy replied.
Maude was incorrigible. "Reggie told me she was practising deep breathing, owing to the length of the Episcopal marriage service."
"Maude," said her mother sharply, "if you were not of age I should send you to bed."
"I'm going. Alice, while Quincy runs up to the house to say that you are not coming home, you come to my room. I've some pretty things to show you."
As Quincy walked up Walnut Street, he saw a bright light in Dr. Culver's window. He rang the bell, and the doctor himself came to the door.
"Is that you, Quincy? Come in."
"Paul, how are you?"
"Fine as silk. Business is good, but I'm doing my best to keep the undertakers out of a job. Have you read the evening papers?"
"I seldom do. I prefer to wait until morning." "The papers are rapping you hard for signing that picketing bill, but the labour men are delighted. You'll run ahead of your ticket sure next fall."
"I'm not going to run. One year is enough."
"Will Evans get the nomination? I won't vote for him. How are your wife's eyes?"
"All right. She has better vision, now, than I have. We owe you a great debt of gratitude for sending us to Dr. Tillotson."
"He's a wonder. He told me the other day that he is going to cure what is called split retina, which has never been done."
Quincy bethought himself of the message he had to deliver and made a hurried departure, first inviting the Doctor to dine with him the next day. On his return to the Beacon Street house, he found his father at home reading an evening paper.
"Quincy, I see that you vetoed that railroad bill."
"Yes, I did. I saw no reason why public property should be given to a private corporation without compensation."
"The public would be compensated indirectly. I am a large stockholder in the railroad, and, to speak plainly, I drew that bill myself. I met Senator Downing and he says the bill will be passed over your veto."
"I cannot help that, father. I did my duty as I saw it. If the bill becomes a law without my signature, I cannot be blamed for future developments."
The Hon. Nathaniel dropped the subject. "Quincy, I have purchased a house in the country and shall go there in a few days. Won't you and your wife pay us a short visit?"
"Certainly, we will. We are going to Fernborough for a few days and then will drop in on you, before we go to Nantucket."
By the look on his father's face Quincy knew that he was disappointed. The Hon. Nathaniel never liked "to play second fiddle." Quincy hastened to rectify his mistake. "We can put it the other way round, just as well. We'll come and see you before we go to Fernborough."
"That will please me better, but, of course, you must not do it if your wife objects."
"She will not object. She is upstairs, now, with Maude. Of course, the girls are going."
"Yes, and I have invited Captain Hornaby, a very fine young man. But, I must retire. I have a case in court to-morrow."
Quincy found both commendation and criticism in the morning papers. His face wore its usual genial expression as he entered the elevator, and Robert's "good morning" was particularly cheerful.
The Governor's first caller was Mr. Acton.
"You see," he began, "that your approval of the picketing bill is receiving universal condemnation."
"Hardly," was the reply. "Two papers and the Governor sustain it and the labour press and unions are yet to be heard from."
"We shall endeavour to secure a repeal of the bill next year. In the meantime, we shall carry the matter to the courts."
"May the cause of truth and justice prevail in the end" was Quincy's comment, and Mr. Acton took his departure in an uncomfortable state of mind.
The day wore away. At three o'clock a vote was taken in the Senate and the so-called Downing bill was passed over the veto. Not so, in the House, for one newspaper, read by nearly all the working men, had so strongly pointed out the nature of the "grab" proposed by the bill, that the State House was besieged by its opponents, and the veto was sustained by a narrow margin.
About five o'clock, Mr. Evans and Senator Downing were dining in a private room at a hotel. "So, the Governor won't run again," said the Senator.
"He so informed me yesterday. He may change his mind."
"You're not satisfied with things as they are," remarked the Senator.
"No," replied the lieutenant-governor, "I'm disgusted with the Williams matter. When I'm governor, I'll request his resignation."
"And when you're governor, we'll put my bill through. Do you know the Governor's father is one of our heaviest stockholders? We'll have our way yet."
Within a week the legislature was prorogued. The House had a mock session, during which partisanship, and private victories and defeats were forgotten, for the time at least, and the fun was jolly and hearty.
Ben Ropes, the funny man of the House, but a member of the minority, convulsed all by announcing his candidacy for the governorship, with the understanding that no money was to be spent, no speakers engaged, the question to be settled by joint debates between the opposing candidates. Every member of the House arose, and amid wild cheers, pledged him their support.
The Hon. Nathaniel Adams Sawyer's estate at Redford comprised some eighty acres. Within five minutes' walk of the house was a sheet of water covering fully fifty acres known as Simmons' Pond. On the farther side of the pond were a few cottages and near them a tent indicating the presence of a camping party.
"Next year," said the Hon. Nathaniel to Quincy as they stood on the shore of the pond, "I am going to buy some twenty acres on the other side of the pond. Then I shall own all the land surrounding it, and my estate will be worthy of the name which I have given it—Wideview— for nobody's else property will obstruct my view in any direction. I shall name this," and he pointed to the pond, "Florence Lake after my eldest daughter. What do you think of Captain Hornaby?"
Quincy hesitated—"He's a typical Englishman—healthy, hearty, but with that English conceit that always grates on my nerves."
"Are we Americans free from it?" his father asked. "To my mind, conceit is often but the indication of self-conscious power. Its possessors never acknowledge defeat I have always had that feeling in my law practice."
Quincy changed the subject, "What have you in the boat house?"
"Canoes—three canoes. I have ordered a large row-boat but it is not ready yet. When I own the 'lake' and the land beyond, my residence will stand in the centre of my estate. I shall retire from practice in a few years, and spend my last days here. We all have to go back to the soil and I am going to make my progress gradual."
"Won't you find it rather dull here after so long an active life in the city?"
"Not dull, but quiet," was the dignified response. "I shall pass my time surveying the beauties of Nature to which, to my discredit, I have been so long oblivious; then, I shall commune with the great minds in literature, and read the latest law reports."
Quincy wondered whether Nature, literature, or law would be his father's most appreciated relaxation, but inclined to the latter.
The next morning Maude exclaimed: "Let's have some fun. What shall we do?"
"There are three canoes in the boat house," said Quincy, "why not a row on the pond?"
"Fine!" cried Maude. "Quincy, you are a man of ideas."
Captain Hornaby had asked Florence to go with him and she had willingly consented. This emboldened Harry Merry, who had come down from the State House with the Governor's correspondence, and he, rather bashfully, requested Maude's company in the third canoe.
"Can you swim?" she asked.
"I learned when a boy," said Harry.
"All right. I don't believe the style has changed much since then. I wouldn't go with you unless you could swim. It would be too great a responsibility."
Harry thought to himself that he would be willing to swim ashore with such a "responsibility" in his arms.
Maude turned to the Captain: "Can you swim, Captain Hornaby?"
"Of course, Miss Maude. We Englishmen are all sea dogs, don't you know?"
"But Englishmen are drowned sometimes," said Maude. "How about Admiral Kempenfelt and the Royal George? See Fourth Class Reader for full particulars in verse."
The three couples were soon afloat—Quincy and Alice, Captain Hornaby and Florence, Harry and Maude.
"Let's have a race," cried Maude. "To that big white rock down there," and she pointed to the farther end of the pond. Harry took the lead with short, swift strokes, but the long, steady paddling of Captain Hornaby gained on him steadily, and to Maude's disgust the Captain reached the rock first, Harry being a close second, and Quincy a late third.
Maude was excited. "Let's race back to the boat house. A prize for the first one who reaches it."
"What will be the prize?" asked the Captain.
Maude saw that Harry needed encouragement.
"I haven't anything with me but kisses and only one of them to spare."
Harry shut his teeth with a snap. He was going to win that race.
As they were nearing the boat house Harry was in the lead, the Captain close behind, with Quincy following leisurely. This was a young people's race—married men barred. For some unexplainable reason Captain Hornaby tried to cross Harry's bow. The project was ill-timed and unsuccessful. Harry had just made a spurt and his canoe went forward so fast that the Captain's boat, instead of clearing his, struck it full in the side and Harry and Maude were thrown into the water. Florence, who really loved her sister despite their many quarrels, gave a loud scream and stood up in the boat. Her action was fatal to its equilibrium, and the Captain and she were soon in the water's embrace.
The accident occurred about two hundred feet from the shore where the water was deep. Captain Hornaby grasped Florence and struck out for the boat house float. She had fainted and did not impede him by struggling.
Harry had essayed to bear Maude ashore, but she broke away from him and swam vigorously towards land, Harry in pursuit.
"Don't worry, Alice," said Quincy. "They are not in danger."
"But, Quincy, suppose it had been our boat." "If it had been," said he, "you would be as safe in my arms as Florence is in those of the Captain, providing you did not struggle."
Harry exerted his full strength and skill to overtake Maude, but she, flushed with the excitement, her thin costume clinging close to her form, reached the bank some twenty feet ahead of him.
"I had to do it," she cried, "and I suppose I must deliver the prize by kissing myself."
Then her exuberant nature gave way, and she sank helpless to the ground. Harry did not envy the Captain who was carrying Florence in his arms, for was not Maude in his?
In the evening as they sat upon the veranda watching the dying glories of the sun, Quincy said to Maude, "Why didn't you let Harry bring you ashore?"
"The idea of it," she exclaimed. "And be under obligations to him— not on your life. Think of poor Florence. If that Captain asks her to marry him she must accept because he saved her life."
Later, when the sun had set, and the moonbeams silvered the surface of the pond, Harry mustered up courage to ask Maude what she meant when she said it was too great a responsibility to go out canoeing with a man who couldn't swim.
"Why, I meant if you couldn't swim it might be a great job for me to get you ashore. I knew I could take care of myself all right."
At the other end of the veranda the Hon. Nathaniel and Captain Hornaby were engaged in conversation. The Captain was not asking the Hon. Nathaniel for the hand of his daughter Florence but, instead, for a loan, giving as his reason that when he threw off his coat his letters of credit to the value of five hundred pounds went to the bottom of the pond.
"I shall have to write home to my brother, the Earl, for other letters, and it will take some time for them to reach me."
"You are at liberty to remain here until you receive word," said the cautious Hon. Nathaniel.
"I appreciate your great kindness," said the Captain, "but I must visit New York and Chicago at an early day."
"How much will supply your present need?" asked the lawyer.
"I had expected my trip would cost me at least five hundred dollars."
"If you will give me your note at thirty days I will let you have the five hundred. I will bring it down to-morrow night."
On the second day following, the Captain took an apparently very reluctant departure.
A week later Quincy and Alice were in Boston making preparations for their trip to Fernborough.
"I am going to buy the tickets this morning, Alice—we must have seats in a parlour car. How shall we go—to Cottonton or Eastborough Centre?"
"To Eastborough surely," said Alice. "We will drive over the old road. Do you remember the day that you took me to see Aunt Heppy Putnam after her husband died?"
"Alice, every day I passed at Mason's Corner near you was like Heaven to me, and, now, for a week or more I mean to live in Paradise again. What a joy it will be to see the old scenes and faces, hear the familiar voices, and remember the happy days we have had there."
"I'm afraid, Quincy, some of the charm has departed. Things have changed, and, in spite of our resolves, we change with them."
When they alighted at Eastborough Centre, Ellis Smith stood there with his carriage.
"How do you do, Ellis, and how's your brother Abbott? Will you take us to the Hawkins House?" said Quincy. Turning to his wife, he added, "Mrs. Rawkins is a good cook—her rooms are large and clean. We can go a visiting during the day and have quiet times by ourselves when we wish." His wife nodded her acquiescence with the plan proposed.
"Ellis, can you handle those two big trunks alone?"
"Yes, Guv'nor. I'm a leetle bit heavier built than Abbott."
Quincy drew Alice's attention to the Eagle Hotel.
"There's where we hatched the plot that downed Mr. Obadiah Strout, when he was an enemy of mine. Say, Ellis, drive up by the Poor House, through the Willows, and then back down the Centre Road to Mason Street. That will carry us by some of the old landmarks."
As they passed the Poor House they saw "pussy" Mr. Waters, sitting on the piazza and Sam standing in the barn doorway.
"There's where my Uncle James died," said Quincy. "Did I ever tell you, Alice, that he left some money and it went to found the Sawyer Public Library? He made me promise not to tell that he left any, and it has always troubled me to receive a credit that really was not my due."
"But you could have kept the money, couldn't you?"
"Oh, yes. He gave it to me outright."
"Then I think you are entitled to full credit for the good use you made of it."
"Looking at it that way, perhaps you are right, Alice. Here are the Willows."
"What a lonely place."
"You didn't think so, Alice, when we used to drive through here."
"I was blind then and couldn't see except with your eyes. You didn't say it was lonesome."
"How could I say so, when I was with you?"
Alice squeezed his hand lovingly.
As they turned into Mason Street, Quincy exclaimed: "There's where Uncle Ike's chicken coop stood until he set it on fire."
"Did he set it on fire?" cried Alice.
"Now I've let out another promised secret. Can you see 'Zeke's house ahead?"
"Yes, how inviting the old place looks. I'm glad Hiram Maxwell has it, for we can sit in the old parlour and sing duets as we used to."
"Now we're going up Obed's Hill," said Quincy. "Deacon Mason's house looks as neat as ever."
"Do you remember when Huldah Mason broke her arm, Quincy?"
"Do not remind me of that, Alice. I was never in love with her, but no one could help liking her. There's the grocery store in which I am a silent partner"—he paused a moment—"and here we are at the Hawkins House."
As Ellis Smith reined up, the front door was opened and Mrs. Hawkins came out to meet her guests. "I got your letter, an' I know'd it was you. How be ye both? Seems like old times. Come right in the parlour. I've got the curtains down so as to keep it cool," and the delighted woman led the way into the house. In the hallway, she screamed, "Jonas! Jonas! Hurry up and pick those chickens. Guv'nor Sawyer and Alice are here."
THE HAWKINS HOUSE
The converting of Mrs. Hawkins' boarding house into a hotel had been due to two causes: First, the thrift and economy of the lady herself, which had enabled her to put by a good sum in the bank. This she expended in building an ell with extra sleeping rooms, painting the structure cream colour with brown trimmings, and replacing old furniture with that of modern make. This latter, she confessed within a year, was a great mistake, for the new chairs became rickety, the castors would not hold in the bed posts, the bureau drawers became unmanageable, and the rooms, as she expressed it, had a "second-hand" appearance. Then it was that the old mahogany furniture, that had been relegated to the attic, was brought down, furbished up, and restored to its original place. When Quincy entered the room which he had formerly occupied, it did not seem possible that five years had elapsed.
The second cause that had led Mrs. Hawkins to change the small and modest sign—"Rooms and Board"—which had been in the front window for years, for a large swinging sign over the front door—"Hawkins House"—having large gold letters on a blue ground—was the rapid growth of the town. Many new mills had been erected in the neighbouring city of Cottonton. The operatives being unable to obtain suitable accommodations in the city, had come to Fernborough to live, where they could have gardens, fresh air, and playgrounds for their children. Fernborough became to Cottonton what Methuen is to Lawrence. Mrs. Hawkins was democratic, but shirt-sleeves and Prince Albert coats did not look well together, so she had turned what had been her sitting room into a private dining room, and it was here that what she called her "star boarders" were served.
By the time Quincy and Alice had opened their trunks, and distributed the contents in the capacious closet and deep, roomy bureau drawers, the cheerful tones of the dinner bell were heard, and they descended to the private room.
They were its only occupants.
"I thought as how you might be hungry after so long a ride an' so I just hurried Jonas up so you could begin afore the crowd came in. I don't introduce folks now I run a hotel. If they gets acquainted it's their lookout not mine," and Mrs. Hawkins and Olive brought in the fare from the adjoining kitchen.
Such a meal for hungry people! Lamb broth, roast chicken, yeast biscuit, potatoes, string beans, cucumbers, lettuce, berry pie, blackberries, currants, frosted cake, with tea, coffee, or cocoa.
"What does she charge?" asked Alice in a whisper when they were alone.
"A dollar a day for room and board—three square meals for board."
After dinner they went into the parlour, where Mrs. Hawkins joined them.
"I jest told Jonas he must help Olive wash the dishes to-day, for I hain't seen ye for so long I'm just dyin' to have a talk with yer, 'cause I s'pose you'll eat and run while yer here, you know so many folks."
"We haven't much to tell about ourselves," said Quincy. "What we want to know is how Fernborough folks are getting along."
"Wall, I s'pos'd you'd like to hear what's goin' on 'round here, an' p'raps I can tell yer some things that other folks mightn't mention, 'cause they'd forgot it, or p'raps wouldn't want to tell. Is that cheer comfortable, Alice? I s'pose I ought to say Misses Guv'nor Sawyer, but it don't come nat'ral, I've known yer so long."
"I shall always be Alice to my good friend Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter Mandy."
"Speakin' o' Mandy, you know she's got two little boys—twins, one named after Deacon Mason, and t'other after your husband's friend Obadiah Strout, ther perfesser—and she's got a little girl, nigh on ter two years old named Marthy after me—but they don't call her Marthy—it's allus Mattie. These new-fangled names fuss me all up. If Mary and Marthy were good enough for the Lord's friends, I don't know what he'd think to hear 'em called Mamie and Mattie.
"Speakin' o' names, there's my Jonas, which is same as Jonah I s'pose. Anyway it fits him to a T, for he's a reg'lar Jonah if there ever was one, which our minister, Mr. Gay, you'll meet him at dinner- time to-morrow, says he's doubtful about.
"If a whale swallowed my Jonas it couldn't keep him down, for he's just satirated with tobacco smoke—he says he has to puff it on the hens and chickens to kill the varmints, and I should think it would. Do you smoke, Mr. Sawyer?"
"Cigars, occasionally. I am not an habitual smoker."
"Well, old Mr. Trask told me as how pipe smoke wouldn't colour lace curtains same as cigars do. Now you jes' smoke all you want to up in your room an' I'll see if it washes out."
"Alice dislikes smoke, and I never use tobacco in her presence—so your lace curtains won't suffer."
"Wall, I'm kinder sorry for I wanted to see if Doctor Trask knew what he was talkin' about. When I'm rich I'll have three doctors and two on 'em will have to agree afore I'll take any of their pizen. I jes' remembered that the new minister, Mr. Gay, smokes. I'll put some lace curtains up in his room. You ain't seen him yet. He parts his hair in the middle. The gals are all crazy 'bout him. I like his preachin' putty well, but he don't use near as much brimstone as old Mr. Howe does."
"Is Mr. Howe's son going to be a clergyman?" Alice asked.
Mrs. Hawkins laughed raucously.
"The Lord save us, I guess not! Why Emmanuel has gone and married a play actress—and isn't she some? She rides a hoss just like a man does, and the way she jumps fences and rides hur-rah-ti-cut down the street would jes' make your hair stand on end. She's away now—I wish you could see her. Of course you're goin' over to the store."
"Why, certainly," said Quincy. "I'm a special partner, you know. I shall call on Mrs. Strout. You remember the party at Deacon Mason's, Alice—I danced with Miss Bessie Chisholm—"
Mrs. Hawkins couldn't wait, "Yes, an' she made the perfesser just the kind of wife he needed. She bosses the house... for I heard her tell him one day that if he didn't like her cookin' he might have his meals at the store—an' she goes to dances with her brother Sylvester. Some folks think she's a high-flyer—but I don't blame her seein' as how she has that old blowhard for a husband—which is true, if he is your pardner."
Alice asked if the Strouts had any children.
"Yes, they've got a little boy, an' he's a chip of the old block. His father brought him here one day and he pulled the cloth of'n that table there and broke a chiny vase that I paid fifty cents for, and his father never said a word about buyin' me another."
"I hope that Mr. Strout and Hiram get along together well," said Quincy.
"Hiram's a good feller. Mandy did well when she got him, but she has you to thank for it, Mr. Sawyer. If you hadn't set him up in that grocery store I'm afraid he'd be chorin' now. You remember Mrs. Crowley? She jes' loves them children, but Mandy's afeerd she's going to lose her. She's got a beau—a feller named Dan Sweeney, and his hair is so red you could light a match by techin' it. He works for your brother 'Zeke. He's a good enuf feller, but he and Strout don't hitch horses. You see he was in the same regiment with the Perfesser an' he knows all about him, same as you found out, and Strout don't talk big afore him. The fact is, the Perfesser hain't many friends. There was Abner Stiles. They two used to be as thick as molasses, but since Strout wouldn't give him the job in the grocery that he'd promised him, Abner's gone back on him."
"Does Uncle Ike board with Mandy now?" Alice knew that he did, but wished Mrs. Hawkins' view of the strange doings of her uncle.
"Yes, he's there—goin' on eighty-two and chipper as a squirrel. He's got religion Mandy says, and so many kinds that she don't know which one he's got the most of."
Quincy looked at his watch. "Mrs. Hawkins, we're going up to Ezekiel's house. We shall stay to supper, but will get back before you lock up—ten o'clock, isn't it?"
"No such hours in a hotel. We're allus open till twelve, and sometimes all night—when it pays. It's a hard life, but you know what's goin' on an' that's considruble for a woman who's tied up in the house as I am."
'ZEKE PETTINGILL'S FARM
Quincy had intended to drive to his brother-in-law's house, but Alice preferred to walk as the distance was so short. The Hawkins House was on Mason Street. A short walk brought them to Mason Square. In plain view were the Town Hall and the Chessman Free Public Library.
"I always thought it was foolishness to name these streets after me," said Quincy, as they stood on the corner of Sawyer Street. "There's Adams Street back of the Town Hall and Quincy Street on the other side."
"I don't agree with you," said Alice. "I would rather have a street named after me than a monument erected to my memory."
At Putnam Square they turned to the left into Pettingill Street and soon reached her brother's house. Huldah saw them coming and ran down the path to meet them.
"Why, when did you come, and where are your things? You are surely going to stay with us."
"Our headquarters are at the Hawkins House," said Quincy. "We have been in town but a few hours and you have the first visit."
"I am so disappointed you aren't to be with us," and Huldah's face showed the feeling she had expressed.
"You won't be when I give you our reasons," Quincy replied. "Mrs. Putnam died in this house, and Alice has such a vivid recollection of her last day on earth—"
"I understand," said Huldah, "but you must come and see us every day."
"Where's Ezekiel?" asked Alice.
"Getting in his last load of hay—about sixty tons this year. We only had thirty a year ago."
"Where's my namesake—Quincy Adams Pettingill?"
"He goes every day to see his grandpa and grandma. Abner will be here with him soon."
When they reached the piazza, Quincy took a good view of the farm. What a contrast to the condition it had been in, when occupied by the Putnams! Then everything had been neglected—now garden, field, and orchard showed a high state of cultivation, and the house and outbuildings were in good repair and freshly painted. Inside, the careful attention of a competent housekeeper was apparent. Huldah Pettingill was a finer looking woman than Huldah Mason had been, but Quincy had never forgotten how pretty she looked the day she lay in bed with the plaster cast on her broken arm—the result of the accident for which he had taken the blame belonging to another.
They had just sat down in the little parlour when cries of "Mamma" were heard outside and four year old Quincy Adams Pettingill burst into the room followed closely by Abner Stiles.
"He don't mind me no more'n a woodchuck would," said Abner—then his eyes fell on Quincy, who rose to greet him.
"Why, if it ain't"—but words failed him as Quincy gave his hand a hearty grasp.
"This is the first time I ever shook hands with a guv'nor," said Abner. "I didn't know you was going to shake hands all round the night of the show an' I went home." He looked at his right hand, rubbed it softly with his left, and then remarked: "I sha'n't wash that hand for a couple o' days if I can help it."
His hearers laughed, for his words were accentuated by the old-time grin that had pleased Obadiah Strout on some occasions, but on others had raised his ire to an explosive point.
"Are father and mother at home?" asked Huldah.
"Yes, both on 'em. Susie Barker's been helpin' her to-day, and the Dekin's wife thinks o' keepin' her reg'lar."
"I'll have them come to supper," said Huldah. "Abner, hitch up the black mare into the low phaeton and bring them up here. Don't tell them who's here, but tell them that I say they must come."
"Well, I declare!" All looked up and saw Ezekiel standing in the doorway. He wore overalls and thick boots, his sleeves were rolled up, showing his brawny arms with muscles like whip-cords. His face was brown, but his beard was neatly trimmed, and his eyes bright. He was a picture of robust, healthy manhood, and showed what he was,—a hard-working, independent New England farmer. Alice sprang into his arms and received a resounding smack. One hand grasped Quincy's while the other encircled his dainty wife's waist, and he drew her towards him.
"You have a fine farm," said Quincy.
"About as good as they make them," 'Zeke replied. "I've a good market for all I can raise. Strout and Maxwell buy a great deal of garden truck, and I sell considerable to Mrs. Hawkins direct. What I have left we eat or give away."
Alice had taken young Quincy on her lap. He became communicative. "I've got a grandpa and grandma and Uncle Abner."
"Abner isn't your uncle," said Alice. "I'm your Aunt Alice, and that is your Uncle Quincy."
Ezekiel laughed. "You can't convince him but that Abner's his uncle. Abner comes after him every afternoon and takes him down to the Deacon's house and that gives Huldy a good chance to do my mending."
The sound of carriage wheels indicated new arrivals, and Huldah went to the door to meet her father and mother.
"Have you got callers?" asked Mrs. Mason. "I don't think I'll go in. I didn't dress up, but came just as I was."
"And I never saw you looking better," said Quincy, stepping into the entry to meet them.
"I'm glad to see you again, Mr. Sawyer," and the Deacon's grasp was a firm one. "I didn't get up to the Town Hall that night, for I didn't feel first-rate and Sophia didn't want to go alone, but Abner told me what you did and said, and I reckon added a little on his own account."
Abner appeared in the doorway. "I've put up the mare, Mr. Pettingill. Want me for anything more, Dekin?"
"You can go home and help Susie," said Mrs. Mason.
When Abner had gone, the Deacon chuckled and said, "Nothing could please Abner better than to take supper with Susie and pass the evening in her company. He's more'n forty and she's only twenty, but such hitch-ups ain't uncommon nowadays."
"That is what they call a December and May marriage," remarked Alice.
"Not quite as bad as that," said the Deacon. "I should say about October and March."
It was a jolly company that sat down to a well-filled table that evening. Quincy's first coming to town, and his exciting experiences during his four months' residence at Mason's Corner, formed the principal topics of conversation, and Alice appreciated more fully than ever her husband's persistency, which had shown itself as strongly in doing good to others as it had in manifesting love for herself.
When they reached the Hawkins House Mrs. Hawkins was on the watch for them.
"There's a young man here to see you, Mr. Sawyer. He came on the train to Cottonton and my man Andrew brought him over. I told him you wouldn't be home till late and I sent him off to bed. Was that all right?"
"I can tell better," said Quincy, "when I find out who he is and what he wants."
"He said his name was Gerry or Ferry or something like that. He's kind of bashful, I 'magine."
"It's Merry," Quincy exclaimed. "Something has turned up at the State House, but it will keep till morning."
As they were ascending the stairs, Mrs. Hawkins called out, "Oh, Mr. Sawyer, there was a letter came for you. It's up in your room."
It was from Maude. "Let us see what that volatile sister of mine has to say. Something very important or she wouldn't write." As he opened the note sheet, he turned to his wife. "Shall I read it aloud?"
"I should love to hear it."
* * * * * * *
"MY ABSENT RELATIVE: You will be delighted to hear that I have found Captain Hornaby's missing coat and wallet. I was out in the new boat when I saw something on the bottom of the pond. You know the water is as clear as glass. It wasn't very deep and I fished the coat up with an oar. I gave it to father and he examined the wallet with apparently great interest. Perhaps he thought there was some money in it, but there wasn't. There were some visiting cards bearing the name Col. Arthur Spencer, but nary a red. Father is trying to find out who the Colonel is. I think father loaned the Captain some money—don't you? Now that we have a real live boat, no more slippery canoes for me. I hope you and Alice are having a fine time—of course you will on your old stamping ground.
"I don't find any fault, because I'm so young and of so little importance, but it seems funny that nobody ever invited me to visit Fernborough. Please don't consider this a bid for an invite, for I won't come. Your neglected sister, "MAUDE."
* * * * * * *
"Is it possible?" cried Alice, "that Maude has never been here?"
"It is a lamentable fact."
"She won't come now."
"I'll fetch her,—hand-cuffed, if necessary."
Quincy was up early to learn Merry's errand. A request had come from the Governor of Colorado for the extradition of a Pole named Ivan Wolaski, who was accused of being concerned in a dynamite explosion in a Colorado mine.
"Have you looked into the case, Harry?"
"Somewhat. I think it is part of a political feud."
Quincy made preparation for an immediate departure.
"Mrs. Hawkins, I must go to Boston at once with Mr. Merry. Will you have Andrew get a team ready for me? I will leave it at the Eagle Hotel. I know the way home."
"You ought to," said she. "You've druv it times enough."
"What will you do with yourself all day, Alice? I must go to the State House on business, but I'll be back by six o'clock."
"If I were home I'd have my horse saddled and have a ride out to the Arboretum or Chestnut Hill."
"They've no saddle horses here, unfortunately. I'll tell you what to do. After dinner go down to Mandy Maxwell's and see her and the children, and have a talk with Uncle Ike. I'll be there in time for supper, tell Mandy."
When Quincy went down stairs he found that Mrs. Hawkins had gone out to the stable to give Andrew directions about the team.
Quincy said in a low tone: "Mrs. Hawkins, have you some spare stalls in your stable that I can use while here?"
"You can have the old barn all to yourself. It's a leetle further from the house, but it's in first-rate order."
As they drove towards Eastborough Centre, Quincy pointed out the objects of interest to Mr. Merry, who thought Fernborough a beautiful town.
"Come down next Saturday afternoon, Harry, and stay over Sunday. Bring down any important letters. Perhaps my sister Maude will come back with me."
Mr. Merry accepted the invitation with polite outward thanks, but with an inward sense of intense gratification. Love is blind. If he had reflected, he would have come to the conclusion that the daughter of the Hon. Nathaniel Adams Sawyer, the millionaire, was not for him, an unfledged lawyer with a mother to support.
When they reached Eastborough Centre, Quincy found he was too late for the train. He had nearly an hour at his disposal. His first visit was to the Eagle Hotel, where he put up the horse. Mr. Parsons, the proprietor, was greatly pleased to meet him.
"You haven't forgotten how we railroaded Strout out of office, have you?"
"That was long ago," said Quincy. "Strout and I are good friends now. He's one of my partners in the Fernborough store.'
"So I've been told."
Quincy took Mr. Parsons aside and had an animated conversation with him.
"I can get you just what you want, Guv'nor. Kind and gentle but some go in them when needed."
"Send them to the Hawkins House and don't forget the saddles."
They crossed the square to the telegraph office, where Quincy sent this message.
"Miss MAUDE SAWYER, "Wideview, Redford, Mass. "Meet me at State House by two o'clock. Leave your trunk at station. Something important. "QUINCY."
As they were leaving the office Quincy met Tobias Smith, father of Abbott and Ellis Smith, and Wallace Stackpole.
"Glad to see you, Guv'nor," said 'Bias. "You remember Mr. Stackpole that we gave Strout's job of tax-collector to—he's held it ever since. We're mighty glad Strout lives in Fernborough. We don't have circuses at town meetings now he's gone."
Quincy's next visit was to the office of the Fernborough Gazette, which was published in Eastborough, as the editor and proprietor, Mr. Sylvester Chisholm, Mr. Strout's brother-in-law, could not get printers in Fernborough, and, being an Eastborough-born boy, his paper had a large circulation in that town and in Westvale, its principal village.
Quincy obtained some copies of the paper containing his speech at the Town Hall. On looking it over he was astonished to find it reported verbatim.
"How did you manage it, Mr. Chisholm? My address was extemporaneous."
Sylvester smiled. "Well, the fact is, Mr. Sawyer, while I was working on the Eastborough Express, when you were here five years ago, I studied short-hand, and it came in handy that night."
The train was express to Boston and Quincy was in his chair in the Executive Chamber by half-past eleven. After a careful examination of the case of Ivan Wolaski, he decided to refuse the request for extradition, and the Governor of Colorado was so notified in a communication which from moral, legal, political, and humanitarian points of view was unanswerable. It was nearly two o'clock when the last official letter was signed.
The door was opened by the messenger. Quincy expected Maude to enter, but it was Mr. Acton, the energetic opponent of the "peaceful picketing" law.
"I heard, Mr. Governor, that you were here, and I thought it only fair to inform you that we shall apply for injunctions just the same as if that bill you signed had not become a law, and, in that way, test its constitutionality."
"You have a legal right to do that," said the governor, "but I question your moral right."
"How so?" asked Mr. Acton.
"Supposing I had applied for an injunction to prevent you and a score of others from trying to influence me to veto the bill?"
"That would have been foolish. No judge would have granted it."
"And why not?" said the governor sternly. "Were not all of you engaged in 'peaceful picketing'? Why should not the working man have the same right to persuade his fellows that you exerted to influence me?"
Mr. Acton had not exhausted his argument: "But the probable destruction of property and possible loss of life?"
"Matters fully covered by law," the Governor replied. "They are under the jurisdiction of the police, the sheriff, and, if need be, the militia."
Mr. Acton, despite the argument advanced, "was of the same opinion still."
Quincy rang for the messenger, who appeared.
"I am going now. Does any one wish to see me?"
"There's a young lady outside. She's been waiting some time."
Quincy looked at his watch. It was quarter past two.
"Admit her, at once."
Maude began the conversation. "I received your astonishing telegram, Quincy, and was here on time," and she emphasized the final words.
"What does it mean? Is Alice sick?"
Quincy took the cue. "Not exactly sick, but she wants to see you very much, and I felt so sure you would come to please her, that I ignored your refusal to accept an invitation from me. Come, we'll have lunch at Young's, and then a carriage to the station,—is your trunk there?"
Maude nodded. She felt that Quincy had played a trick on her and she was in a rebellious mood.
She ate her lunch in silence. Not a word was spoken during the drive to the station. When the train was under way Quincy remarked, casually, "I invited Mr. Merry to come down next Saturday and stay over Sunday."
From that moment until they reached Eastborough Centre, Quincy could not have desired a more talkative or vivacious companion. As they stepped upon the platform, Mr. Parsons came up.
"They're there, safe and sound. I went up with them myself, so's to be sure."
"JUST LIKE OLD TIMES"
Alice had a delightful day at Mandy Maxwell's. The twins, Abraham Mason and Obadiah Strout, sturdy little fellows of the same age as Ezekiel's boy, were full of fun and frolic. Swiss, Uncle Ike's dog, had grown old in the past five years, but the antics of the youngsters overcame at times both age and its accompanying dignity, or love of repose, and he was often as frisky as in his younger days.
Mrs. Crowley told Alice, in confidence, that she "was most dead" with the noise of them, and that, some day, she would be "kilt intirely" by falling over them.
Alice held the little girl for hours, and, remembering Mrs. Hawkins' complaint, called her "Martha" instead of "Mattie."
After the death of Capt. Obed Putnam, his companion, Uncle Ike came down from his attic and had the room that Quincy occupied when he boarded with Ezekiel Pettingill. He was now eighty-one years of age, and too feeble to go up and down stairs, so his meals were taken to his room.
He was greatly pleased to see Alice and to learn that there had been no return of the trouble with her eyes.
"If we had known as much then as we do now, you wouldn't have needed any doctor, Alice."
"Why, how's that?" she asked.
"Because the mind governs the body; as we think we are—we are."
"Well, Uncle Ike, why don't you think you are able to go down stairs and walk back again?"
"I was referring to disease, not the infirmities of old age."
"What's the difference, Uncle?"
"I can't explain it, but there's a mighty sight of difference. I've been trying to get Mandy to let me live on sour milk, because a great doctor in Europe says we'll live longer if we do."
"How long would you care to live?"
"As long as I could. I've been reading up on all the religions and all the substitutes, and it's going to take me some time to decide which is best—for me, I mean. I don't presume to dictate to others."
"Which do you favour so far?"
"I was brought up on theology—great, big doses of it. I was taught that God was everything and man was nothing. Now I'm willing to give the Almighty credit for all his wonderful works, but I can't help thinking that man deserves some credit for his thousands of years of labour. There's a man out in Chicago who has got up a religion that he calls Manology. There's some good points in it, but he goes too far to suit me. I've read about ghosts and spirits, but I've got to see one before I take stock in them."
"I understand how you feel, Uncle. You have lost the two anchors which make this life bearable. They are Faith and Hope. For them you have substituted Reason—not the reason of others, or of the ages, but your own personal opinion. Until you are satisfied, every one else is wrong."
"Perhaps you're right, Alice. I can see now that my life has been misspent. I should have remained at home and made my wife and children happy. Instead, I became, virtually, a hermit, and for more than twenty years I have thought only of myself and done nothing for humanity, that has done everything for me."
Alice was deeply touched by her Uncle's self-accusation. He had been good to her, and not unkind to others. But he was drifting in a sea of doubt, and really wishing to live his life over again. She felt sorry, but what could she say to give his mind peace? She would begin on the material plane.
"Uncle, how much money have you?"
"That's what troubles me, Alice. When I left home"—his voice lingered on the word—"I gave my wife and children two-thirds of what I had. The rest I put into an annuity, which dies with me. That will do nothing for those I love and who love me."
To Alice, the case seemed almost hopeless. Here was a man who, owning his past life had been self-reliant, independent, impatient as regarded advice and control—was now weaker than a child, for, in youth, Faith is triumphant.
"You must have a talk with Quincy, Uncle. Perhaps he can help you." She went down stairs with a sinking heart. She loved her uncle, but love, powerful as it is, cannot always cast out unbelief.
"Where can your husband be, Alice?" asked Mandy. "Half-past six, and supper's ready. I remember how I used to call out 'supper's ready' when you and he were in the parlour singing. I hope you'll sing some to-night."
Mrs. Crowley rushed into the dining room. "He's coming, but he's got a woman with him."
"Who can she be?" thought Alice as they followed Mrs. Crowley to the front door.
"Hello, Alice," cried Maude. "I've brought him back with me."
Quincy told Ambrose, Mandy's boy-of-all-work, to drive the team to the Hawkins' House and tell Mrs. Hawkins that he wished a room that night for his sister. Ambrose's hand clutched the half-dollar tightly as he repeated the message to Quincy's satisfaction. Mrs. Crowley gazed admiringly at the Governor until he disappeared from view. Alone, in the kitchen, she gave vent to her feelings.
"The foine gintleman that he is. 'How do you do, Mrs. Crowley.' sez he, and he shakes me hand as jintly as if I was a born lady. And the pretty sister that he has, an' the beautiful wife. An' he's the President of the State, an' sez he, 'Mrs. Crowley, how do you do, an' it's delighted I am to see you again.'"
Mrs. Crowley wiped her eyes with her apron and resumed her household duties, occasionally repeating, "'How do you do, Mrs. Crowley.' When Dan comes to-night I'll tell him what the Governor said."
Hiram soon joined the party, it being his night off. As of old, he stammered, or stuttered, when excited, and the sight of Quincy and Alice was enough to entirely disorganize his speaking apparatus.
"Ain't this jolly?" said he. "Just like old times. I heerd you was at Miss Hawkinses, but I didn't think as how you'd git round here so quick. But we're mighty glad to see 'em, ain't we, Mandy? I hope you're all as hungry as I am." He went to the kitchen door and called, "Mrs. Crowley, we're waiting for the supper."
"How I wish Uncle Ike could be with us," said Alice.
"Why can't you call him?" asked Quincy.
"He's too weak in his legs to come down," said Mandy.
"I'll fetch him," and Quincy bounded up stairs, while Mandy got a place ready for him.
Quincy soon returned with Uncle Ike in his arms and placed him in a big arm-chair at the head of the table.
Alice looked up and smiled at her husband.
"Now it is much more like old times," she said, softly.
Maude, who had been an interested listener and spectator, finally exclaimed, "I'm not surprised that you stayed down here four months, Quincy, but we used to wonder, until we saw Alice, what the great attraction was."
Maude's explosive remark caused a general laugh in which Uncle Ike joined. Alice, feeling that all eyes were fixed upon her, blushed prettily, "As my husband's residence here brought good to others as well as to myself, I am glad that a poor, blind girl, such as I was, proved an attraction strong enough to keep him here."
She stopped, somewhat abashed at making so long a speech, which Maude might think indicated that she was offended at her sister-in-law's reference to herself.
"Bravo, Alice," cried Uncle Ike, "so say we all of us."
After supper all adjourned to the parlour. Quincy offered to carry Uncle Ike.
"No, young man. I'm all right on an even floor. It's these up and down stairs that tire my loose joints"—and he made his way, without assistance, to an easy chair in a farther corner. Quincy looked about the room. Five years had made little change. The old square piano was in its accustomed place, as well as the music stand. He looked over the pieces—the same ones that he and Alice had sung together years ago.
"Let's have some music," said Hiram. "We haven't heard any singers, except Dan, since you folks went away. Guess that pianner's out of tune by this time."
It certainly was, but their hearts were in tune, and it mattered little if some of the keys refused to move, or the sounds emitted were more discordant than melodious.
"Is this Dan a good singer?" asked Quincy.
"Fine!" exclaimed Hiram. "He's great on Irish songs."
"They are always humourous or pathetic," remarked Alice. "Some of them remind me of a person trying to laugh with a heart full of sorrow, and their love songs are so sweet."
"Can't we have him in?" asked Maude.
"I'll go and see if he's come," said Mandy. "He often drops in and helps Mrs. Crowley clear up after supper."
Maude laughed. "A sure sign he's in love. I hope I'll get such a helpful husband."
"Your life will be on different lines," remarked Uncle Ike. "You will not be obliged to do your own housework."
"I don't know about that. I've loafed all my life and I'd really like to know what work is."
Mandy came back with smiling face. "Yes, he's there, and they're putting the dishes in the closet. He's coming in, and, of course, Mrs. Crowley will come too."
"While we are waiting, play something, Maude," said Quincy.
"I only took three quarters," she said roguishly, as she seated herself and dashed off "Waves of Ocean" in strident style.
"I always liked that," said Hiram.
"So do I, with my bathing-dress on," and Maude acknowledged the applause that greeted her efforts with a low bow.
The door was opened, and Mrs. Crowley entered followed by Mr. Daniel Sweeney. Mrs. Crowley with her neat calico dress and white apron, did not look her forty-five years, and Mr. Sweeney, although five years her senior, was a young appearing man.
"I haven't the music with me," said Mr. Sweeney to Maude, who offered to play the accompaniment.
"Give me the key—I guess I can vamp it."
Mr. Sweeney struck a note.
"What's the title?" asked Maude.
"Widow Mahan's Pig."
"Oh, I know that," said Maude. "It's one of my favourites. I often sing it to my sister Florence. She just adores it."
"Why, Maude," cried Alice, "how can you tell such stories?" But Quincy was laughing quietly. But few people understood Maude as he did.
Mr. Sweeney had a fine baritone voice; he sang with great expression, and, what is particularly desirable in a comic song, the words could be heard and understood.
Young Widow Mahan had an iligant pig, In the garden it loved for to wallow and dig; On potatoes it lived, and on fresh buttermilk, And its back was as smooth as fine satin or silk. Now Peter McCarthy, a graceless young scamp, Who niver would work, such a lazy young tramp, He laid eye on the pig, as he passed by one day, And the thafe of the world, he stole it away!
An iligant pig in every way, Young Widow Mahan used often to say: "Faith, when it's full grown, I'll go to the fair, A mighty foine price I'll get for it there."
As Mr. Sweeney started to repeat the four lines of the chorus, a soprano voice rose above his own, and, as the last note died away, Maude came in for her share of the applause. Mrs. Crowley was delighted, and showed her appreciation by laughing until she cried.
He drove the poor piggy to Ballyporeen, And the price of it soon he did spend in poteen, He got into a fight and was cracked on the head, Then to jail he was carried and taken for dead. The constable then for the Father did send, For he thought that McCarthy was quite near his end; He confessed to the priest, did this penitent youth, About the pig stealing he told the whole truth.
Maude improvised a short symphony before the third and last stanza.
Then to young McCarthy, the Father did say: "Now what will you do at the great Judgment Day? For you will be there, at the bar you will stan' The pig as a witness, and Widow Mahan." "Faith, what will I do?" young McCarthy did say. "An' the pig will be there at the great Judgment Day? Begorre! I'll say to the Widow, 'Asthore, Take back your old pig, for I want it no more'
"'An iligant pig in ivery way, Schwate Widow Mahan, plaze take it away. Faith, now it's full grown, just go to the fair, A mighty foine price you'll git for it there.'"
"Yes," said Uncle Ike, "that's what the rich man will say. After cheating the poor, buncoing the credulous, and 'cornering' his fellows, he will say he is willing to give it back, for he has no further use for it. There's a good moral in that song, Mr. Sweeney, and some of our sordid millionaires ought to hear it."
Quincy looked at his watch. "The hour is late—for the country, but, fortunately, our hotel keeps open all night."
Quincy carried Uncle Ike up stairs to his room and told him he would come some day and have a good old-fashioned talk with him.
They walked home slowly, Maude admiring the moonlight night and the cool, scented air. When they reached their own room, after seeing Maude to hers, Alice repeated to her husband her conversation with Uncle Ike.
"You must do something to cheer him up, Quincy. Promise me, won't you?"
"Yes, I promise. I hope I won't forget to perform it as I have in one instance."
"Do you remember that young man at the Town Hall—Arthur Scates? He's in consumption. I told him to come to the State House and I would see that he had proper treatment. He hasn't been—or perhaps he has since I've been away, but I will see him to-morrow."
Alice looked up at him approvingly. "Quincy, I agree with you that the real value of money is found in the good that can be done with it."
STROUT AND MAXWELL'S GROCERY
The next morning, after breakfast, Quincy asked his wife and Maude to accompany him to Mrs. Hawkins' barn.
"I wish I had my saddle horse here," said Alice.
"So do I," added Maude. "I did think of bringing him."
Alice laughed, "Do you know, Maude, sometimes you say the most ridiculous things? How could you bring a horse with you?"
"Easy enough—on a cattle car. Besides, I could have ridden down here if Quincy hadn't been in such a hurry."
"No, with Bobby. What better protector can a woman have than a good horse? I shall never remain in danger long if my heels or my horse's will get me away from it."
"Maude, you're a strange girl," said Alice. Then she put her arm about her and added—"but one of the best girls in the world."
By this time they had reached the barn. Two stalls were occupied. Quincy pointed to two side-saddles hanging on the wall.
"As I knew you were both good horse-women, I had these sent up with your riding habits from Eastborough Centre yesterday. I am going to be busy at the store this morning, and I thought you might enjoy a ride."
Maude threw her arms about his neck and kissed him.
"You are the bestest brother in the world."
"And the most thoughtful husband," said Alice as he drew her close to him.
"Well, I'll saddle them and see you mounted."
A quarter of an hour later Quincy led the horses to the street.
"Don't go down Obed's Hill—it is very steep. Ride along Pettingill Street to the Centre Road, which will bring you to Mason Street, and when you've walked your horses up hill you'll be near the grocery store, where you'll find me."
They waved a good-bye as they rode off, and Quincy made his way to the grocery store. Mr. Strout came from behind the counter to meet him. Hiram was busy putting order baskets in the gaudily painted wagon.
"I heard as how you were in town, and Hiram said you were at his house last night, but I ain't one of the kind that gits mad if I'm waited on last at table. In music you know we usually begin down low and finish off up high, and visitin' is considerable like music, especially when there's three children and one of 'em a baby."
His closing words were intended to refer to Hiram's family, but Quincy made no reply.
Mr. Strout was never at a loss for words: "How do you like being Governor?"
"So well that one term is enough. I'm going to Europe later."
"I mean to go some day. I've heard so many foreigners blow about what they've got over there, I'm kinder anxious to see for myself. If they've got a better grocery store than this, I'll introduce improvements as soon as I get back."
Hiram having finished his work and dispatched the team, the three partners went into the private office, which was monopolized by Mr. Strout. It contained one desk and two chairs. Hiram brought in an empty nail keg and closed the door.
"We've done twenty per cent. more business this month than same time last year." Mr. Strout opened a desk drawer. "Will you smoke, Guv'nor?"
Quincy accepted the cigar, and Strout, without offering one to Hiram, was returning the box to the drawer when Hiram, by a quick movement, gained possession of it, and taking out half-a-dozen put them in his pocket.
"That'll even matters up a little, I guess," he said. Mr. Strout scowled, but catching Quincy's eye, said nothing.
"Would you like to look over the books? I'll have them brought in."
"Don't trouble yourself to do that," said Quincy. "I'll examine them at the bookkeeper's desk."
"Oh, very well," said Strout. "You'll find them O. K. But now's you're here there's one thing I want to say. Hiram don't agree with me, but he ain't progressive. There's no crescendo to him. He wants to play in one key all the time. He's—"
Quincy interrupted, "What did you wish to say about the business? We'll drop personalities for the present, at least."
"Well, our business is growing, but we can do ten times as much with more capital. What I want to do is to start branch stores in Cottonton, Montrose, and Eastborough Centre. We send our teams to all these places, but if we had stores there we'd soon cut the other fellers out, for buying in such large quantities, we could undersell them every time."
"I'm rather in favour of the branches, but don't go to cutting prices. The other fellow has the same right to a living that we have."
"Why not let him have what he's got then and not interfere with him?" said Mr. Strout, chewing his cigar vigorously.
"For the reason," said Quincy, "that we don't keep store to please our competitors, but to serve the public. I believe in low prices in sugar, tea, and coffee, to draw trade. But general cuts in prices are ruinous in the end, for our competitors will cut too, and we shall all lose money."
"I ain't agin the new stores," said Hiram, "but I'm teetotally agin chopping prices down on everything and tryin' to beat the other feller."
"How much money will it require?" asked Quincy. "Have you estimated on rent, fixtures, stock, horses and wagons, stabling, wages and salaries, and sundry expenses?"
"Yes, I've got it all down in black and white, it's in the safe. My estimate, and it is as close as the bark to a tree, is six thousand dollars spot cash."
"I'll look over your figures," said Quincy, "and if they seem all right, I'll advance the money on the usual terms, eight per cent., but I must have a four thousand dollar mortgage to cover your two- thirds, for I don't suppose you can put up two thousand apiece."
"Not this year," said Strout, as he proceeded to relight his cigar.
The door was thrown open violently and Alice rushed in.
"Oh, Quincy, Maude's horse has run away with her and I'm afraid she's thrown and perhaps killed. I tried to catch up with her but I could not, and I saw nothing else to do but to come and let you know."
"Which way has she gone?" cried Quincy. "How did it happen?"
"We stopped at 'Zekiel's and had a talk with Huldah, who came down to the gate. Then we went on until we came to the Centre Road. When Maude saw the long straight stretch ahead she cried, 'Let's have a race!' Before I could remonstrate, she gave her horse a sharp cut with the whip. He took the bit in his teeth and bolted. I rode on as fast as I dared to, but when I reached Mason Street she was not in sight."
"If she had come this way we should have seen or heard her," said Quincy. "She must have gone towards Eastborough Centre. Come, Alice, I will get the carryall. If she is hurt she will not be able to ride her horse."
Leading her horse, Quincy and Alice went to the Hawkins House.
"He takes it pretty cool," said Strout to Hiram. "If she was my sister I'd ring the church hell, make up a party, and go in search of her dead body, for that's what they'll come back with."
"I don't take no stock in that," remarked Hiram. "She's used to horses, and she's a mighty bright, independent girl. She'll come home all right."
"No doubt she's independent enough," retorted Strout. "That runs in the family. But the horse, it seems, was independent too. Perhaps the Guv'nor will have a boxing match with him for his independence to a Sawyer."
As Hiram went back into the store he said to himself: "That Strout's only a half-converted sinner anyway. He'll never forget the thrashing that Mr. Sawyer gave his man, Bob Wood."
Quincy had Alice go to her room, for she was agitated and extremely nervous, and he asked Mrs. Hawkins to look out for her until his return.
With Andrew's help, the carryall was soon ready and Quincy drove to the store. What was his surprise to find Maude there, still on her horse, and apparently uninjured. With her, also on horseback was an attractive girl, a stranger to Quincy.
"I'm all right, Quincy," Maude cried as he alighted, "but there would have been a funeral but for this young lady."
Quincy, with hat in hand, bowed to the stranger. "I am deeply grateful for your valuable service, madam. To whom are we indebted for my sister's rescue from death?"
The young lady smiled, showing a set of even, white teeth. "Not so great a service after all. Your sister is a good horsewoman. If she hadn't been, she would have been thrown long before I reached her."
"But your name, Madam," persisted Quincy. "Her father will wish to know, and to thank you."
"My name when in Fernborough is Mrs. Emmanuel Howe. When I'm on the stage, it is Dixie Schaffer. I was born in the South. My father was Col. Hugh Schaffer of Pasquotank County, North Carolina."
"My father and all of us will feel under great obligations to you."
"I hope he will not. I have no objections to receiving his thanks in writing, if he is disposed to send them, which I think unnecessary as you are his representative. But kindly caution him not to suggest or send any reward, for it will be returned." She bowed to Quincy, turned her horse's head and rode away.
As Strout entered the store he said to himself, "Bully for her. She don't bow down to money. She's got brains."
A few days later, however, Miss Dixie Schaffer was the recipient from the Hon. Nathaniel Adams Sawyer of a beautiful gold pendant in the shape of a horseshoe, set with pearls. If one could have glanced at a stub in the lawyer's check book, he would have found the name of a prominent jeweller, and the figures $300. It is needless to add that the gift was not returned to the donor. When Alice saw that Maude had escaped without injury, she soon recovered her equanimity.
"How did it happen, Maude?" asked Quincy. "Alice says you gave the horse a sharp blow."
"I must have hit her harder than I intended—but I was thinking of the race more than of her. Didn't she run, hurrah-ti-cut, as Mrs. Hawkins says? I was bound I'd keep on her back unless she fell down or ran into something, and I did. I wasn't foolish enough to jump and land on my head.