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The Wrong Woman
by Charles D. Stewart
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"It is an outside kitchen without the disadvantages of a separate building, is n't it! And it looks like a part of the house, too."

"So does the milk-house. When you come out of the side door of the dining-room the milkhouse is right in front of you. And to your right is the kitchen door. Everything 's handy. Old Steve used to be a great hand for company. And I guess Steve B. is likely to turn out just as bad. So you see these are all three joined at the corners and this place between is all floored and roofed over, and there is a lattice and vines where you can see out onto the road. And it's nice and cool. You can set right here in the shade and tend to everything."

Having submitted the plans to her contemplation awhile Jonas withdrew the slicker as if he were considering any possible improvements.

Janet, being tired by her constrained position in viewing the work,—for she had not moved entirely round to his side of the supper,—straightened up and spent the interval in a new survey of the stars. It rested her neck. As on the previous nights it was clear and spacious. There were stars and stars. The biggest and brightest stood out in unison; in between them and hanging far off in space were so many others that all confusion seemed straightened out in the unity of the infinite. It was all very beautiful—heaven is not disorder, after all. And yet a coyote, complaining in the distance, seemed to set the world to a false note. Her mind seemed tangled in light as her eye, following the stars, was led along the devious invisible lines from one to another. She had a feeling as if she would like to look up the definition of "you" in the dictionary.

When she came back to earth again, Jonas was sitting there awaiting her return. One would almost think he was waiting for an answer.

Janet looked at her watch. It was twenty minutes after ten—but she did not know whether it was right or not.

"I hope I have n't been keeping you up, Miss Janet," said Jonas. "Whenever your time comes to turn in, go right along. Don't consider me company."

"Oh, it was n't that; I was just wondering what time it is. Do you suppose, Mr. Hicks, that he will have any difficulty finding that horse and getting it back here? I should think he would get lost."

"How long has he been gone?"

"A little over an hour."

"Oh, that ain't bad. You can't lose Steve."

"No, of course not. I thought it was longer."

"What time is it?"

"Twenty minutes after ten by my watch. But I don't really know what time it is."

"Well, there ain't much use knowin'. Time is queer anyway on a prairie. Sometimes it takes a considerable while for it to go past. And then again, as the other fellow said, 'Time is shorter than it is long.' Maybe if you are sleepy you 'd better go to bed."

"Well—I believe I will. I don't suppose I had better wait any longer. Will you find a place to sleep? Maybe you will want to use my slicker."

"Oh, I 'm all right. I 'll just chase away these cattle and roll in under the wagon. And if you should hear me serrynadin' you with a horse-fiddle after a while, don't be scared. That's me snoring. I 'm what they call a sound sleeper."

"Good-night, Mr. Hicks."

"Same to you, Miss Janet."



CHAPTER XI

The sun, lifting his countenance above the horizon that morning, centred his whole attention upon a pair of polished brass-bound hubs. The rest of the scene, grass and flowers "in unrespective same," formed a mere background on the general plane of existence while the sun beamed upon the brass—delighted, no doubt, to find an affinity in this unexpected place.

We accentuate the detail slightly, our reason being that Janet, whenever she had occasion to tell how it all happened, was sure to make mention of the brass hubs. Unconscious as she may have been of it at the time, the hubs commanded the scene and formed the shining high-light of memory's picture; and as the years passed they took on a still brighter polish.

The hubs belonged to a snug-looking Rockaway buggy. Hitched to the buggy was her own horse, which was tied to a post of the corral. The gate of the corral was open and the sheep were gone. Jonas's outfit was gone too; there was nobody in sight.

As she stood looking and wondering, Steve emerged from the gully; and having saluted her in his usual manner he began to explain to her how the change was wrought. When he returned late that night and found that Jonas Hicks was in charge, he saw his way clear to solve her transportation problems. As a horse without a saddle would hardly do for her, he remounted and rode almost to town on the main road, where he borrowed a buggy. Getting back again he found that the much-expected herder had put in his appearance with a man to help him; the two were now out with the sheep. The wagon had not arrived because the bed with sheep-stalls was out of repair; a second helper would come with it later in the day and in the meantime Jonas would follow the flock with his wagon and two yoke of oxen.

As to Mr. Pete Harding, that delinquent, instead of being conscience-smitten by his long absence, had returned as one who is the bearer of glad tidings, the burden of his song being that he had been most surpassingly drunk. Steve, taking into consideration that the man, being now satisfied with his achievements and the proud possessor of a headache, would settle down to the simple life with all the more interest, let him off without a word of reproof. And besides, Mr. Brown, though he did not say so, was grateful to the man for having stayed away as long as he did.

Thus Steve Brown was free to do as he pleased. He would himself take Janet to her destination at the county-seat; and if she would allow him to,—he seemed to lose all his usual self-confidence at this point in his relations toward her,—he would wait there until she had taken the examination. And then, if she were willing, he would take her wherever she wished to go. Janet, protesting mildly against putting him to so much trouble, accepted the offer.

"That's the best thing for us to do," he said.

So it was decided; and when breakfast was over and the hieroglyphic oil-coat had been stowed under the seat of the buggy, Janet's horse got the word to go.

Not without regret, nor certain light allusions to the state other feelings, did Janet part company with the shack and the now familiar prairie. The shack had been a house to her, and one whose roof and walls had held her in the very closest relations; and besides, though she did not say a word about this, it was the only residence she had ever met which she could possibly imagine herself saving up enough money to buy. This was one of its secrets.

Steve, taking a route of his own, drove twice through the waters of the wandering Comanche. At these wide shallows, Janet's gossip ceased while she held to his coat-sleeve and kept her eye on the water as it hurried through the spokes and rose steadily to the hub. But when the stout pony pulled them up the opposite bank and the road lay before them the same length as before, she again took up the thread of the conversation. As everybody knows, a conversation can lead almost anywhere; the talk will get to wherever it is going by some route as long as words point the way, and always the story of one's self will leak through the sentences in the end. And where is there anything so conducive to the objects of conversation as a Rockaway buggy wheeling it over the cushioned sward and the flowers trooping by? We are not going to intrude upon their pleasant situation; suffice it to say that as time passed he became more and more Steve Brown and she became increasingly Janet.

It was about the middle of the forenoon when they reached Belleville, the prairie highway becoming now a shady homestead street, with Southern cottages ensconced in vines and shrubbery and sheltered by prosperous trees. Presently they turned into a street of stores which delivered them finally to a hitching-rack at the end of a walk leading up to the steps of the court-house.

The Professor, it devolved upon inquiry, was busy just at present, but if the young lady would step up to his room he would give her an examination shortly. Steve, being thus left to himself, went outside again. At the side of the gravel walk was a green bench presided over by a china-berry tree; he sat down here and waited. Occasionally a passer-by diversified the tenor of his waiting—now a straight-paced lawyer garbed in black and thinking dark thoughts; again, a leisurely stockman arrayed like himself with sombrero and spurs. His own spurs he had not thought to remove since he got back that morning. The little town, like other county capitals, had an atmosphere that was half the hush of the court-room and partly the quiet of academic groves, in which state of being the inhabitants were peacefully and permanently established, the court-house being, in truth, Belleville's principal industry.

Having nodded to several and encountered none that he was well acquainted with, he arose and went into the court-house again. After a spell of indecision in the corridor, he turned and proceeded up the dark-banistered stairs to the second story. At the head of the stairs was a long hall with two rows of doors and a window at each end. One of the farther doors was open, but gave forth no sound. In this direction he turned his steps,—ostensibly toward the window which was invitingly open,—and as he passed the door he turned his head and viewed the scene of the "examination." The place was filled with cast-iron desks screwed to the floor and surrounded by blackboards; and all empty except for the seat which held Janet. The Professor, elevated on a little platform with a table before him, sat sidewise in his chair out of regard to a set of questions which he had chalked upon the blackboard; meanwhile he tapped the table with his fingernails and regarded Janet with a look of great profundity. It was a speechless process; he wrote the questions on the blackboard, she wrote the answers on the paper. Janet, evidently perplexed, bit the end of her penholder. She turned her eyes to the door as Steve passed and gave him a furtive look. It made him feel as if he were a boy again and Janet a little girl being kept after school.

He passed onward to the window. Below him was a view of the court-house yard, and through the trees a glimpse of the short business street. For a little while he made this the object of his attention, then he turned about and proceeded to the window at the other end. As he passed the door he turned his eyes again and took quick survey of affairs inside the examination-room, The other window, being at the back of the courthouse, opened upon a wide prospect; in the near distance were tree-hidden cottages, beyond this scene was the stretch of prairie again. Steve sat down on the sill to wait. But in a little while he got up and went back to the first window. When he passed the door again the young lady blushed.

Janet was now in the very midst of that dread ordeal known as a "test." She was being tried for her life,—which is to say her living,—and her speechless inquisitor made the most of his attainments. "Give the source and course of the Volga." Having writ down that cold-blooded query he ascended his dais again and suppressed all feelings of triumph. Janet again put the pen-holder to her teeth. Evidently this was more than the young lady was able to "give." He drummed on the wood with his finger-nails; otherwise he sat before her like patience on a pedestal. His single spectator, feeling herself no match for such a brain, was beginning to abandon all hope of passing.



Steve Brown, having gathered some inkling of Janet's mental troubles, was beginning to have his opinion of the whole procedure. Seeing her in such difficulty he had a feeling of revolt against educational things in general, but as the wrong seemed to be beyond his individual powers to remedy, he could only make another trip to the end of the hall. Glancing again at the questions on the board he looked in vain for some inquiry upon the subject of Climate. There did not seem to be even one. And when next he came back, after composing himself for about half a minute on the window ledge, the door was unceremoniously shut in his face!

He had come to a definite stop in hope of finding at least one question upon the subject of Climate; the door was shut in his face. Confronting him was the printed legend—"County Superintendent." His heels were frozen to the floor. If it had not been that it was an improper and very unusual thing to do, he could have shot each particular letter of that announcement full of bullet holes.

The remedy for this peculiar outrage not at once presenting itself, he turned on his heel and made another trip to the farther window where he at once came face-about and began patrolling the hallway, past the door and back again, his spurs clicking sharply and his high boot-heels punctuating his progress as if every step put a period to his thoughts.

As he thus took his mind a-walking, everything about Janet's present situation struck him in a light more obnoxious and foolish. Examination! Examination! The idea of that girl having to go to that fellow to be tested! The idea of his having any such authority over her! And besides, if that little Professor really wanted to get an idea of her merits, why did n't he talk to her and find out whether she had common sense? She certainly had more than he had. As if any man with half an eye could n't see that she was the very person to teach children!

As Janet's situation struck him more deeply, and he began to realize how she might feel if she failed, he stopped and glared again at that brazen lettering. Possibly she was failing now. He felt that if he had the authority, or any proper cause,—which he could hardly make out that he had,—he would march in and reform the thing right then and there. But he had no authority. The other fellow had the authority. And the right to close the door between them! This being actually the case he whirled about and resumed his marching back and forth; and his spurs began snapping their jaws again.

Janet, when she saw the door shut, caught her breath and paid strict attention to the paper. The examiner, evidently unconscious of anything but his own precise self, went officially to the blackboard and took up next the writing of another set of questions. He wrote impromptu and with considerable readiness, pausing occasionally to think up a poser.

Regularly she heard her escort coming down the hall on his return trip, and each time she suspended mental operations until he was safely away again. About the time that she had done her best, and worst, to the subject of Geography, he failed to pass the door; his footsteps seemed to turn with a new and lighter expression in some other direction. Then she heard no more of him.

The next subject was Grammar. She caught glimpses of the questions as her examiner walked back and forth from one end of a sentence to the other. As grammar is a subject in which there is some limit to the number of possible questions, she felt that she now had an advantage. She would now do wonders providing he did not ask her something easy.

Luckily he did not. She pushed Geography aside and took a new sheet of foolscap with every prospect of passing. At first it had looked very much as if she were going to fail.

Steve's withdrawal had merely been due to the sudden realization that he was making a great deal of noise in the court-house; whereupon he saw that, all things considered, he could contain himself better somewhere else. He went down the stairs, through the corridor, and out of the grounds. Thence his feet carried him clean to the other side of town.

When he found himself upon the silent shore of the prairie he turned about with the intention of going straight back, but he was three times delayed, first at the hitching-rack in front of "Hart's General Store," where a knot of story-tellers halted him to tell him about the phenomenal good time of his herder, and again in front of the post-office, where another group of loiterers had to be listened to; and finally, having made his escape when he felt that it was high time to go, he had the bad luck to run into Judge Tillotson, whose propensity to talk was such that he could not be denied a hearing without good excuse.

When he at last arrived at the foot of the court-house path, he saw Janet sitting on the bench under the china-berry tree. How long had she been waiting for him? As she caught sight of him she began dabbing her eyes hastily with her handkerchief. Steve saw this. His stride lengthened as he came up the path. Having reached the bench he dropped down suddenly beside her, his arm extended along the top of the bench at her back.

"How did you make out, Miss Janet?"

There was a lugubrious attempt at a smile as she turned her eyes toward him. The tears had been put into her pocket; but still he could see that her eyes were swimming. To him they looked more wonderfully gentle, more wholly true than any eyes he had ever seen.

"Well—Mr. Brown—I failed," she said.

"What! Didn't he let you pass?"

"I already had a third-class certificate, you know."

"Yes; but that is n't any good to you."

"No," she said meditatively. "Even second-class would have got me that school near Merrill. I think I would have passed, too, if he had only been fair in Geography and History."

"What? Did he do anything that wasn't on the square?" he asked sternly.

"Oh, I did n't mean it that way. It is always possible to be unfair in Geography and History, you know,—and besides there is a good deal of luck about it, too. He said he would have let me pass, but he had decided to raise the standard."

She felt his arm stiffen behind her like an iron bar. She thought he was going to rise.

"But he was perfectly fair," she added quickly.

Steve's muscle relaxed slowly; he resumed his former lax attitude and fell to thinking.

"You deserve to get a certificate and you did n't," he said, suddenly sitting up again. "It is n't right."

This last word came out as sharp as a challenge to fight. He seemed to have stiffened up in the saddle with the straight look of indomitable will. Janet's eyes opened wider with the impression she got of him.

"Oh, it is n't a great matter—except that—of course—it is a little disappointing."

"Yes. And somebody that it doesn't make any difference about will come along and pass." His eye still had fight in it. "You like Texas?" he said suddenly. "Don't you think it is a pretty good state?"

"Oh, yes, indeed," answered Janet. "I was very much in hope of being able to stay. If I had only had more time to study—more time—"

There was a quaver in her voice, and she let the sentence end itself there.

He sat for a moment looking straight at the middle of the path before him. Then deliberately he turned about, put his arm behind her again, and took her hand in his.

"Janet," he said, "if you had been here in two or three months from now, there was a question I had all made up to ask you."

"A question?"

"As long as you might have to go away, I might as well tell you now—before you are gone. I was going to ask you in two or three months whether, if—— But no. That is n't fair. What I mean is, will you marry me? Would you?"

Janet paused during a space that would best be represented by a musical rest—a silence in the midst of a symphony. Then her clear eyes turned toward him.

"Yes, Steve; I would."

"You would! Do you mean that now—for keeps?"

"I could go and live with you anywhere in the world. I could almost have answered that two days ago."

Her hand was taken tighter in his grasp. The edge of his sombrero touched the top of her head, and she felt herself being taken under its broad brim with a sense of everlasting shelter. And just then they were interrupted. A visitor to the court-room came up the path—unnoticed till he was almost past. At the same time there was a sound of footsteps coming down the courthouse steps. It was the Professor. Seeing which Steve released her hand and assumed a more conventional public attitude until this particular spectator should be gone. The Professor passed. He kept on his way down the path and did not look back; whereupon Steve took possession of her hand again. It was such a fine delicate hand to him—so small and tender a hand to have to grapple with things of this rough world; he looked at it thoughtfully and hefted it as so much precious property in his own.

"I am mighty glad you said that," he offered. "I was afraid you might have to leave. That's why I wanted you to pass."

"And that's why I wanted to pass, too," she said.

Now that the coast was clear they resumed their confessions. At times they sat in silence, holding hands.

As the time approached when they ought to start back, they were reminded to make more definite plans. He would take her to Merrill, leave the horse and buggy there, and come home to Thornton on the night train. On the following day he would come down with one of his own horses to get the buggy and she could ride up "home" with him and catch the early train back.

"I want you to come up right away and look over the house and get acquainted with the neighborhood."

"Are we going to have nice neighbors?" she asked.

"First-class. A mighty fine lot of folks. They 'll all put themselves out to accommodate you. I think you 'll like them."

"Oh, I know I shall," she answered.

"And I 'll have something I want to give you, too. And we can talk things over and make up our minds about the date. I don't see any use in waiting a long time, do you?"

"Well—no; not too long. But of course there are quite a number of things that need to be done first."

"Yes—of course," he mused. "Quite a number of things that have to be done. And there 's the license to get, too," looking up suddenly at the court-house.

"What!—right now?"

"We might as well get it while we 're right here, don't you think? I might have to come out here after it anyway—and maybe the Comanche would be up and on a rampage. Here we are right now. And there's the court-house."

"It does seem the most sensible way—of course. You had better do whatever you think best."

Upon receiving this commission he arose and proceeded for the license. As he set foot upon the court-house steps he paused and looked back at her. He was straight as a ramrod; there was self-confidence in his carriage and pride in his mien.

"I 'll bet ten dollars I 'll pass," he said.



CHAPTER XII

Susie's ma—she who made the "real Northern" pie—was busy in her kitchen. A dishpanful of dough, which had risen till it overhung the edges of the pan, indicated that it was high time to knead a batch of bread. She was just clearing the table with this end in view when she heard a familiar sound in the distance, and going to the window she saw that Jonas Hicks was at home again. He turned loose his "string," now reduced to two yoke, and went into the house.

While it was no unusual thing for Jonas to go into the house, it was seldom that he stayed long, for which reason Mrs. Berry tarried at the window in expectation of getting another sight of him. While she was thus waiting she saw Mrs. Harmon making her way across the open. Evidently she was bound for Jonas's house. She had hardly reached the door when Mrs. Norton and Kitty Wright made their appearance on Claxton Road, arm in arm. They turned off the road and bent their steps in the same direction. In a little while Mrs. Plympton and another of her aristocratic neighbors issued forth and joined company, walking faster. They too struck out across the common. What might this mean?

To Mrs. Berry, who knew nothing of the unreturned rockery, and nothing of the mysterious doings of Steve Brown, this was a question which called for an answer.

Evidently it was no preconcerted move. Mrs. Berry, being a woman, could see, from various indications of dress and manner, that each of them was going simply because she had seen the other do so, and this was reason enough; but still, behind it all, there must have been some original reason; and what was it?

Mrs. Berry proceeded to the kitchen and faced her work. She addressed her remarks particularly to the dough.

"Well, I guess I can just let my work go for once in my life," she said. She spread out her hands and pushed down the dough till it was about half its former size. "There, now," she said. "Rise again."

Donning a clean apron and her best hat, and giving Susan some parting instructions, she opened the door and set forth for the common destination. Mrs. Berry had the courage of her curiosity. She was not meddlesome, but only interested; and as there was nothing whatever between her and what she saw in the world,—not even an education,—she dealt with life in her own resourceful way. Mrs. Berry was a "railroad widow"; she supported herself and Susan by ceaseless industry helped out by a small income received from "the Company" when her husband was killed in the faithful discharge of his duty.

By the time she had put in her appearance at Jonas's ever-open door, the ladies had come to a period in their conference with Jonas and now they were engaged in expressing various sorts of surprise. They were quite astonished at something—whatever the nature of it might be.

"Yes, she had on that kind of a hat," Jonas was saying. "But she ain't any woman from around here. She is a school-teacher and educated. I know her."

There was another chorus of "I declare!" which came to a stop as Mrs. Berry rapped on the door-jamb; then all reference to their business was dropped as they welcomed her in and made the usual polite inquiries regarding herself and little Susan. Mrs. Berry seated herself in the proffered chair without any reference to what the nature of her own errand might have been. When it was seen that she had settled down to stay, Mrs. Harmon took in hand to make everything plain and open. They had just received news that Mr. Brown was engaged to be married. It was this, Mrs. Harmon explained, that they had all been talking over, and they were all very much delighted. Mrs. Berry, on her part, was not a whit less interested in such things than the rest of them; she expressed her opinion that it was really the best thing for a man to do. With which sentiment they all agreed. Then Jonas spoke.

"You see, Mrs. Berry," he said, "Steve and the young lady passed me on the road coming in from the ranch; and they stopped and told me all about it. They just got engaged to-day."

"Oh, indeed," said Mrs. Berry. And then she created consternation by a most embarrassing question. "And were you all expecting it?"

"Well—yes. We rather suspected it, you know," put in Mrs. Harmon, viewing her benignly. "We heard in a roundabout way that Mr. Brown was paying attention to a young lady."

This crisis safely passed, gossip revived and took on new life, in the course of which Mrs. Berry gathered a few details regarding the bride-elect. Talk had not proceeded far, however, when Mrs. Harmon rose and stationed herself behind Jonas's kitchen table.

"Ladies," she said, "I think that, just at this time, and while we are all together, we had better call a meeting of the Circle." She took up Jonas's long-handled batter-spoon and rapped three times on the table. The result was that they all sat up a little straighter and came to order. "As you are all aware," she continued, "the business of our last meeting was left in a rather unfinished and unsatisfactory state. It has just occurred to me that there is a little point that ought to be taken up promptly and brought to a general understanding. I would suggest that anything in our last meeting which might be of a—Star Chamber nature—be expunged from the records, verbal and otherwise. In every sense I mean—entirely. Will some one make a motion to that effect?"

Kitty Wright arose to the occasion.

"I move," she said, "that the proceedings of the last meeting be expunged. And that it be understood that it be considered a permanent meeting of the committee of the whole behind closed doors. Also that it be understood that any member—such as Mrs. Plympton, for instance—is entitled to vote now, and make inquiries from any of her sisters, at any time, regarding the nature of the present parliamentary vocabulary."

"Second the motion," said Mrs. Plympton.

"Moved and seconded that the last meeting be of the aforesaid nature."

The motion was carried.

"And now," said Mrs. Harmon, rapping again with the spoon, "as this little matter is tended to, I think it no more than proper, in view of the pleasant news we have just received, that we turn our attention, while the opportunity offers, to an entirely different matter." Here she turned a wary glance in the direction of the much-mystified Mrs. Berry. "While we are all here I think it would be a matter of pleasure to all concerned that we make some plans for the proper treatment of the young lady who is going to settle among us. Possibly we could do something to entertain her and make her feel at home. If any of you have an idea on which we could act, motions to that effect will now be in order."

"Mrs. President," said Kitty Wright, rising to her feet, "I think that would be just lovely. I move that when Miss Smith arrives to-morrow she be invited to a chicken dinner at the home of our worthy President; and that two members of the Circle be invited, including myself."

"Second the motion," said Mrs. Norton.

"Moved and seconded that the young lady and her escort be invited to dinner at the home of the President, and that Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Norton include themselves. Are you ready for the question?"

"Question."

The motion was carried.

"Mrs. President," said Mrs. Plympton, rising and receiving recognition, "I understand from the information that has been conveyed to us by Mr. Hicks, that the wedding is not likely to be put off to a very late day. It may occur very soon; therefore any plans that we may have in that regard ought to be set in motion at once. Now, I have just been thinking that I have those fifty Japanese lanterns which we used in the lawn festival. I move that a committee be appointed, at the pleasure of the President, to begin arrangements for celebrating the return of the bridal couple with a reception al fresco in our peach orchard. And that the Colonel be notified to have his barn in readiness for another dance."

The motion was seconded and carried by extra unanimous vote.

Mrs. Harmon paused a moment before bringing the meeting to an end. While she was hesitating a chair scraped behind her and Mrs. Berry took the floor.

"I don't know as I belong to this here Circle," said Mrs. Berry, "but anyway I guess I belong to the Square." A murmur of approval showed that they appreciated this view, referring as it did to that rectangular neighborhood surrounding Jonas's twenty acres. "I guess I belong to the Square. And I have just been thinking that as long as Mr. Brown has been living alone around that house he has probably got it into a pretty bad mess. Most likely the kitchen is a sight and the place is all out of order. Somebody ought to go over and sweep and dust and scrub and red things up. If the young lady was to come along to-morrow and see things like that she would think we was a pretty sort of a neighborhood. I move and second that I go and do it."

Without a dissenting vote, this motion was carried.

Mrs. Harmon was about to declare the meeting adjourned; but she paused with her spoon in the air. "Mr. Hicks," she said, turning her head in his direction, "I believe you understand about the rockery?"

"Yes," replied Jonas, rising. "I 'll tend to that all right. I 'll get them back and fixed just the same as before. And as long as everybody is bearing witness, I might as well do the same, as the cat said when she got caught in the mousetrap. Most likely, if Steve has been hauling things around in that house, there will be lots of heavy lifting and tall reaching that needs to be done; so if Mrs. Berry is going over there to fix up I guess I 'll go along too."

Upon this the batter-spoon came down and the meeting was declared adjourned. But though it was adjourned, it did not immediately disperse—women's meetings seldom do. Such delightful duties being in the air, they had to be dwelt upon and enlarged, and Jonas had to bring forth further details of his favorable impressions of the young lady. And did he do her justice? Did he let them understand how well-bred and refined and good-looking she was? Did he, in short, convey the information that she was just about the sweetest and most delightful and charming young lady that ever set foot on the soil of Texas? I think, dear reader, that we may safely intrust that duty to Mr. Jonas Hicks.

THE END

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