Sorrowful as Janice Day was because
of the report upon little Lottie Drugg’s affliction,
she was equally troubled regarding the storekeeper
himself. Janice had a deep interest in both Mr.
Drugg and ’Rill Scattergood “that
was,” to use a provincialism. The girl
really felt as though she had helped more than a little
to bring the storekeeper and the old-maid school-teacher
together after so many years of misunderstanding.
It goes without saying that Mrs. Scattergood
had given no aid in making the match. Indeed,
as could be gathered from what she said now, the birdlike
woman had heartily disapproved of her daughter’s
marrying the widowed storekeeper.
“Yes,” she repeated; “there
I found poor, foolish ’Rill her own
eyes as red as a lizard’s bathing
that child’s eyes. I never did believe
them Boston doctors could cure her. Yeou jest
wasted your money, Janice Day, when you put up fer
the operation, and I knowed it at the time.”
“Oh, I hope not, Mrs. Scattergood!”
Janice replied. “Not that I care about
the money; but I do, do hope that little Lottie
will keep her sight. The poor, dear little thing!”
“What’s the matter with
Lottie Drugg?” demanded Marty, from the doorway.
Walky Dexter had started homeward, and Marty and Mr.
Day joined the women folk in the sitting room.
“Oh, Marty!” Janice exclaimed,
“Mrs. Scattergood says there is danger of the
poor child’s losing her sight again.”
“And that ain’t the wüst
of it,” went on Mrs. Scattergood, bridling.
“My darter is an unfortunate woman. I knowed
how ’twould be when she married that no-account
Drugg. He sartainly was one ’drug on the
market,’ if ever there was one! Always
a-dreamin’ an’ never accomplishin’
“Now Lem Parraday’s opened
that bar of his’n an’ he’d
oughter be tarred an’ feathered for doin’
of it I ‘spect Hopewell will be hangin’
about there most of his time like the rest o’
the ne’er-do-well male critters of this town,
an’ a-lettin’ of what little business he’s
got go to pot.”
“Oh, Miz Scattergood,”
said Aunt ’Mira comfortably, “I wouldn’t
give way ter sech forebodin’s. Hopewell
is rather better than the ordinary run of men, I allow.”
Uncle Jason chuckled. “It
never struck me,” he said, “that Hopewell
was one o’ the carousin’ kind. I’d
about as soon expec’ Mr. Middler to cut up sech
didoes as Hope Drugg.”
Mrs. Scattergood flushed and her eyes
snapped. If she was birdlike, she could peck
like a bird, and her bill was sharp.
“I reckon there ain’t
none of you men any too good,” she said; “minister,
an’ all of ye. Oh! I know enough
about men, I sh’d hope! I hearn
a lady speak at the Skunk’s Holler schoolhouse
when I was there at my darter-in-law’s last
week. She was one o’ them suffragettes
ye hear about, and she knowed all about men and their
“I wouldn’t trust none
o’ ye farther than I could sling an elephant
by his tail! As for Hopewell Drugg he
never was no good, and he never will be wuth ha’f
as much again!”
“Well, well, well,” chuckled
Uncle Jason, easily. “How did this here
sufferin-yet l’arn so much about the tribes o’
men? I ’spect she was a spinster lady?”
“She was a Miss Pogannis,” was the tart
“Ya-as,” drawled Mr. Day.
“It’s them that’s never summered
and wintered a man that ’pears ter know the
most about ’em. Ev’ry old maid in
the world knows more about bringin’ up children
than the wimmen that’s had a dozen.”
“Oh, yeou needn’t think
she didn’t know what she was talkin’ abeout!”
cried Mrs. Scattergood, tossing her head. “She
culled her examples from hist’ry, as well as
modern times. Look at Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!
All them men kep’ their wimmen in bondage.
“D’yeou s’pose Sarah
wanted to go trapesing all over the airth, ev’ry
time Abraham wanted ter change his habitation?”
demanded the argumentative suffragist. “Of
course, he always said God told him to move, not the
landlord. But, my soul! a man will say anything.
An see how Jacob treated Rachel
“Great Scott!” ejaculated
Uncle Jason, letting his pipe go out. “I
thought Jacob was a fav’rite hero of you wimmen
folks. Didn’t he sarve how
many was it? fourteen year, for Rachel?”
“Bah!” exclaimed the old
lady. “I ’spect she wished he’d
sarved fourteen year more, when she seen the
big family she had to wash and mend for. Don’t
talk to me! Wimmen’s never had their rights
in this world yet, but they’re goin’ to
get ’em now.”
Here Aunt ’Mira broke in to
change the topic of conversation to one less perilous:
“I never did hear tell that Hopewell Drugg drank
a drop. It’s a pity if he’s took
it up so late in life and him jest married.”
“Wal! I jest tell ye what
I know. There’s my ‘Rill cryin’
her eyes out an’ she confessed that Drugg had
gone down to the tavern to fiddle, and that he’d
been there before. She has to wait on store evenin’s,
as well as take care of that young one, while he’s
exploded Marty, suddenly. “I know what
it is. There’s a bunch of fellers from
Middletown way comin’ over to-night with their
girls to hold a dance. I heard about it.
Hopewell’s goin’ to play the fiddle for
them to dance by. Tell you, the Inn’s gettin’
to be a gay place.”
“It’s disgustin whatever
it is!” cried Mrs. Scattergood, rather taken
aback by Marty’s information, yet still clinging
to her own opinion. It was not Mrs. Scattergood’s
nature to scatter good quite the opposite.
“An’ no married man should attend sech
didoes. Like enough he will drink with
the rest of ’em. Oh, ’Rill will be
sick enough of her job before she’s through
with it, yeou mark my words.”
“Oh, Mrs. Scattergood,”
Janice said pleadingly, “I hope you are wrong.
I would not want to see Miss ’Rill unhappy.”
“She’s made her bed let
her lie in it,” said the disapproving mother,
gloomily. “I warned her.”
Later, both Janice and Marty went
with Mrs. Scattergood to see her safely home.
She lived in the half of a tiny cottage on High Street
above the side street on which Hopewell Drugg had his
store. Had it not been so late, Janice would
have insisted upon going around to see “Miss
’Rill,” as all her friends still called,
the ex-school teacher, though she was married.
As they were bidding their caller
good night at her gate, a figure coming up the hill
staggered into the radiance of the street light on
the corner. Janice gasped. Mrs. Scattergood
“What did I tell ye?”
Marty emitted a shrill whistle of surprise.
“What d’ye know about that?”
he added, in a low voice.
There was no mistaking the figure
which turned the corner toward Hopewell Drugg’s
store. It was the proprietor of the store himself,
with his fiddle in its green baize bag tightly tucked
under his arm; but his feet certainly were unsteady,
and his head hung upon his breast.
They saw him disappear into the darkness
of the side street. Janice Day put her hand
to her throat; it seemed to her as though the pulse
beating there would choke her.
“What did I tell ye? What
did I tell ye?” cried the shrill voice of Mrs.
Scattergood. “Now ye’ll believe
what I say, I hope! The disgraceful critter!
My poor, poor ’Rill! I knew how ’twould
be if she married that man.”
It chanced that Janice Day’s
Bible opened that night to the sixth of Proverbs and
she read before going to bed these verses:
“These six things doth the Lord
hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him.
“A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood.
“An heart that deviseth wicked
imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.
“A false witness that speaketh
lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”