The Quid Pro Quo

Editor and author. RICHARD E. DANIELSON has occasionally contributed short stories and articles to the Atlantic. His story “Corporal Hardy,”published in November, 1938, was reprinted in O’ Brien’s The Best Short Stories of 1938 and in his Fifty Best American Short Stories and in various other anthologies and textbooks. InThe Quid Pro Quo,”Mr. Danielson returns to the Corporal Hardy period and personalities.

by RICHARD E. DANIELSON

DURING the three weeks or so which I spent in New London with ray cousins I often passed the windows of a Small Wares and Notions Shop, near the waterfront, on the way to the Eastern Point ferry. “Passed the windows” is hardly accurate. More often than not I lingered there, fascinated, my nose pressed against the glass, until my cousins dragged me away. For in that window, along with a lot of odds and ends, new and secondhand, was a box containing sheets of paper soldiers, a leftover from the Christmas trade, and for that box my soul yearned.

On my last day in New London I ventured inside the shop and asked the proprietor, Mr. Bodkin, if I might see the contents of the box. He was goodnatured enough and lifted out the sheets of soldiers and spread them before ray bulging eyes. I had never seen such a wealth of soldiery, so varied and vivid an army. There were soldiers in white trousers and gray tunics, with silver helmets on their heads; there were troops of cavalry on prancing steeds; there were ranks of infantry in gray and blue and red and green — and when I saw them in all their beauty, I had to own them. These soldiers had to be mine. It was clear that I would die otherwise.

“I suppose,” I said to Mr. Bodkin in a faint voice, “I suppose they are very expensive . . .”

“Why, no,” he said, tilting the box up to read the price marked on the bottom, and letting some of the cardboard sheets slither toward the floor. I grabbed them with trembling hands, averting sacrilege and calamity. “Why, no,” he repeated, “they’re marked at a dollar, but I’ve had ’em quite a spell and I’d be willing to cut the price in half. Fifty cents buys you the lot.”

I knew to a mill the state of my current assets. “I don’t suppose you’d take thirty-six cents for them, Mr. Bodkin?” I asked with fearful hope.

“Why, yes, I would, and that’s a fact,” he said. My heart leapt into my throat. “Plus fourteen cents,” he added, “that makes fifty. That’s my price.” He put the box back in the window.

After a while I said, “I’ve got a good knife. It’s an awful sharp knife . . .”

“I don’t take nothing in trade,” Mr. Bodkin said, “save, sometimes, skrimshank work from sailors. But I tell you what I’ll do. You pay me twentyfive cents down and I’ll give you a receipt for it. Then I’ll hold them soldiers safe for you till you bring me the other quarter. Otherwise I might be forced to sell ‘em any minute now.”

I could hardly get the quarter out of my pocket, I was in such a hurry to seal the bargain. “I’ve got eleven cents more, Mr. Bodkin,” I said. “Do you want to take them too ? ”

“Why, no,” he said, “you might want to loan them out at interest. They tell me that’s the way to get rich these days.” He took up a pen and a dingy piece of paper. “What name?” he asked. “Jackie Prescott, Brookside, Connecticut,” I answered. He wrote; “New London, Conn., July 25, 1895. To Whom It May Concern. I hereby acknowledge receipt of twenty-five cents in lawful U.S. currency from J. Prescott, Esq., of Brookside, Conn., as part payment of a total sum of fifty cents for purchase one box paper soldiers. H. Bodkin.”

“I hain’t nut ‘Given under my hand and seal,’ ” he said, “but that’s a good and binding receipt.” He fumbled for blotting paper. “You ain’t, by chance, related to John Prescott of Brookside?” he asked.

“He’s my father,” I said proudly.

“I calculated he might be,” said Mr. Bodkin. “I useter know your Pa. We ’listed together in ‘64. Fourteen, fifteen years old. Coupla young fools. Didn’t see any war at that. Just as well, I guess. Smart fella, your Pa. Went to Yale College afterwerds. Wrote a song about some of us in the comp’ny that made me kinda mad at the time; chorus went ‘ Taylor and Bodkin and Awl!’ — sort of a play upon words,” he said sadly. “But,” he added, “if you’re John Prescott’s son, I guess I can trust you for the other quarter. You take the box with you . .”

“Oh no, Mr. Bodkin,” I interrupted, in real consternation, “I couldn’t do that. Father wouldn’t want me to go in debt. I’m going home tomorrow and I can earn—” I counted slowly, “I can earn fourteen cents easily. Easily!” I repeated in tones which convinced myself at least. “Will it be all right if I send you twenty-five cents in stamps, Mr. Bodkin?”

“That will be O.K.,” he said, “Oll Korrect, and on receipt of same, I will send you the goods as requested. Take your receipt, bub, and send it back to me with the stamps when you come into that money you are goin’ to earn so easy.” He sighed. “And tell your Pa, Hosea Bodkin sends him his kindest regards. He’ll remember me. I didn’t sell notions in them days. I had plenty of them but they wa’n’t marketable.”

So, when I reached home, even before I had told my parents about bluefishing in the Race or crabbing at Noank, I announced that I had to earn fourteen cents, right away. “I hope you’re not in debt, son,” Father said. I produced Mr. Bodkin’s receipt and explained the situation. “And, oh yes, Father, Mr. Bodkin sent you his kindest regards. He said you’d remember him. Something about a song, ‘Taylor and Bodkin and All.’

“Was he a tall, long-legged boy, with freckles and a big nose and arms growing out of his sleeves? ” Father asked.

“Oh no,” I said, “he was old and kind of stooped. He wasn’t a boy. He was old, as old as you.”

“He must have been in a state of advanced decay,” said Father.

“Yes,” I said, “and, Father, where can I earn fourteen cents? I got to earn fourteen cents right away.”

“Money is tight now,” said Father seriously, “but I might be able to loan you fourteen cents as an advance on your allowance . .

The prospect tempted me terribly. I could see myself on a rainy day in the attic, cutting out and mounting those soldiers and ranging them in line of battle. Father waited.

“No,” I said mournfully at last, “I told Mr. Bodkin I could earn the money and he seemed to think I couldn’t. I want to try tomorrow.”

“I’m sure you can earn it, Jackie,” said my mother, smiling, “but don’t go bothering the neighbors. And now it ‘s time for your supper. Run along and wash off the cinders.”

Perhaps I should explain about “playing soldiers.” It was my secret vice. Only my parents knew of my indulgence. I realized that I should have outgrown paper soldiers, a big boy of ten, going on eleven, and I despised girls and their paper dolls. But there was a difference between paper dolls and paper soldiers, a difference difficult to explain but very real. Paper soldiers might be unreal, a kind of make-believe, but they were not unmanly symbols. At least I thought so, and in the attic, among rawhide trunks filled with relics of far voyages and domestic histories, surrounded with bound magazines piled in dusty stacks, and all the clutter of stored miscellanies, I laid out my battlefields. There, with the help of maps from various Civil War histories and with what information — singularly valueless from the standpoint of the strategist — I gleaned from the lips of Corporal Hardy and other veterans, I refought Gettysburg and Antietam or the Wilderness Campaign or Vicksburg.

Sometimes an important military unit, such as Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps at Gettysburg, had to be represented by a solitary bugler, swaying slightly in the attic drafts; or Pickett’s charge inadequately acted by a line of five or six wavering effigies might seem to lack verisimilitude. But if I had Mr. Bodkin’s inestimably precious collection to work with, I would be able to present war in all its panoply; and as I dreamed my dreams,

I marched with a great throng and at the van,
Streamed banners like the dawn.

2

THE next evening at the Post Office my golden economic opportunity fell plump into my lap. I was watching the postmaster, imperfectly seen behind a screen of glass-fronted numbered mail boxes, flitting about, like a crouching gnome; and I was listening as I always did, with strange pleasure, to the thud of rolled newspapers thrust home in the boxes against the glass, or the less important susurrus of letters.

The hot atmosphere of the crowded place, a compound of tobacco smoke, kerosene lamps, and humanity, induced a delightful anesthesia, but through the fog I heard a heavy voice say, “Too much for one man. Rowen ain’t cut. Weeds got a head start in the corn. Apples ain’t culled an’ I can’t afford to pay loafers no day wages.”It was Mr. Grigsby speaking — or rather, growling. A heavy man, redheaded, with a red grizzle on his jowl, I had never seen him smile, He was a hard worker and a hard man. I knew his place, a bare house on a windy hill off the Pomfret road, a farm of stony fields and gaunt cattle. He lived there alone with his wife, whom nobody ever saw, except sometimes at a window, fluttering, frightened, then yanking herself quickly out of sight, to hide somewhere in safe darkness.

I could hardly believe my good fortune. I turned to him and said, “Mr. Grigsby, I’d be glad to get some work. I can weed your corn for you. I’m good with a hoe. I . . .”He looked me up and down. “Fair-weather farmer, you be,”he said. “I don’t pay no wages to no loafin’ boys.”

“But I don’t ask for wages,” I said. “I’ll weed the corn for you at so much for the job and I’ll be quick about it. How much a row would you pay me, Mr. Grigsby?”

“Trader, ain’t you?” he said, and slowly turned the matter over in his mind. “Tell you what I’ll do,” he growled at last. “You come to my field tomorrow mornin’ early. I’ll leave a hoe and a rake for you. You clean up the field and I’ll pay you three cents a bushel for the weeds. They s plenty of weeds, lots of ’em. That’s fair. You rake the weeds down to the end of each row and we’ll measure ‘em . . .”

“I’ll come, thank you, Mr. Grigsby,” I cried, and without further parley left the Post Office for home at high speed, my winged feet spurning the dull road, my head in the clouds. Five bushels at three cents a bushel was fifteen cents— enough for my soldiers. But I could do ten bushels; why, in a day I could do twenty or twenty-five bushels, maybe thirty — weeds piled up awful fast. I could do five bushels one-handed. I could write a letter to Mr. Bodkin. And in a day or two days the soldiers would come. Perhaps if I earned sixty or seventy cents, I could buy cannon . . . And so on; I went careering home “in something more than fantasy.

My parents received my tremendous news with a calm which astonished me. Incredulously I noticed a certain hesitation in my mother’s consent, and Father said very little one way or another. But I went to bed happy and confident, tomorrow’s conqueror.

3

I TRUDGED to Mr. Grigsby’s through a world of long shadows; a new, still world, except for thrushes stirring in the alders; dew covered the fields and walls with bright silence, even the brooks droned quietly, unwilling to awake. Beneath my elbow I carried my luncheon in a package which my mother gave me before I started out. For, in spite of my almost sleepless night, my silent rising and hasty dressing, my mother was there before me, with a glass of milk for me to drink, a package of food for me to carry, a hat for my head—which I took under protest — and a kiss, as she said, for her breadwinner. I think I have never been happier in all my life than I was on that cool, clean morning as I walked to the Grigsby farm. It was a lovely world and it belonged to me.

I reached the cornfield about sunup and I must have come quietly, for a fox trotted out of the corn and came within ten yards before he sensed me, stopped and stared at me unblinking for an instant, and then bounded to a wall and slid over it, a quick russet flame. I was startled and approached the held with some caution; it was a jungle filled perhaps with carnivorous beasts, lurking, lurking. But I found the hoe and the rake; a dawn breeze started the cornstalks rattling and the leaves whispering and I took heart at the familiar feel and noises and set to work.

It was a big field with many rows— how big and of how many rows I would not dare to say now, but at the end of my first row I knew that I had a job of work ahead of me. It took me an hour to hoe five rows and rake the weeds into neat piles at the ends. There were, indeed, plenty of weeds, but they were stubborn and the ground from neglect was hard, not loose and easy like our cornfields at home. Still, I figured that the yield of my five rows would fill a bushel basket easily, and some left over, and it was only about six, and my money as good as earned.

However, I never equaled my first hour’s work. As the sun rose, the day grew warm, and then hot and then hotter until the field was a furnace, and the sweat poured in little streams and the dust rose in a hateful cloud. I had thought that my hands were tough, but the hoe handle found soft places and before long they were a mass of blisters. I had two handkerchiefs and I tied one over my mouth and the other over my more grievous hand and I kept on.

Bicycling and riding and swimming and rowing, together with such regular chores as I did at home, had kept me in as good condition as most boys of my age, but all that was play and this was work, a very different thing, I discovered. My back ached from bending over, and the incessant action tied my arms and hands into cramps, but my chief enemy was the sun. It heat down on my back with hammers of heal. It burned the skin and dried the mouth, it came through my eyes into the inside of my head and did queer things there. When I shut my eyes, green wheels turned slowly before me.

At noon, half dead with thirst, I went to the Grigsby house for water. There was a well near the back door with a tin dipper beside it. I drew a bucket of water and poured it over me, from the head down. The rattle of the chain and the whine of the windlass must have roused Mrs. Grigsby, for a white face peered from a window and hands waved silently “Go away! Go away!” I splashed more water quickly and went away, for there was something wrong, something bad about that house, and I hurried back to the cornfield.

I don’t remember very much about that afternoon except aches and pains and dizziness and the green wheels which sometimes turned into pinwheels and sent arrows of light in all directions. But I finished the job somehow and tottered off to the barnyard, where Mr. Grigsby was driving his cows into the barn.

“ I’ve finished it, Mr. Grigsby,” I croaked.

“Time you had,” he said. “I c’d ‘ve done it in two-three hours. Loafin’, I guess.”

“No, sir,” I said. “Could we measure the weeds now? I’d like to get paid . .

“Got the caows to milk,” Mr. Grigsby said shortly, “no time.”

“But you said ...” I began, unhappily.

“No time, naow,” said Mr. Grigsby. “Come tomorrow, noontime. I’ll be there with a basket. Git in thar, you black bastard,” and he aimed a kick at a thin, grade Holstein. I turned away and slowly weaved my way home. Father started to ask me about my day, but Mother took one look at me and hurried me to the bathroom. There she bathed me as if I had been a little boy, and bandaged my hands, and soon I was in a cool bed with a damp cloth on my forehead. And after a while the pinwheels stopped turning, and with Mother still seated by my bed, I fell asleep.

4

THE next morning after breakfast I found Father in front of the house talking with his — and my — friend, Joseph Thorne. Mr. Thorne, “Uncle Joseph” to me, was not really an uncle, but he was almost better than a real one. He was a notable man, tall and immensely strong, with great quiet hands, and shoulders as wide as a barn door. He had blue eyes and a brown beard that curled, and he often talked “country” when among intimates. You wouldn’t have known then that he was a lawyer and had been a judge and a member of Congress. He seemed then just like a Connecticut farmer — which, among other things, he was. Above all. Uncle Joseph was gentle and understanding with children. He knew how we thought and felt, just as if he thought and felt the same way himself, which was strange, for he was a bachelor and had, of course, no children of his own. He was different from children because he could do things, control circumstances, produce results with large, effortless ease.

They asked me about my day’s work and I told them. Uncle Joseph looked questioningly at Father when I mentioned Mr. Grigsby. “Clem Grigsby,” he said, “why’d you pick on that polecat, John?”

“I didn’t,” Father said mildly. “Jackie picked him.”

“And he’s going to measure the weeds this noon? ” Uncle Joseph went on. “You sure he didn’t say next week, or come snowfall?”

“No, sir,” I answered, “he said noon, today.”

“It’s goin’ to be hot again today,” said Uncle Joseph. “Weeds shrink in the hot sun. You may be disappointed, Jackie, but never” — he shook his finger at me — “never let on to a polecat like Grigsby that you’ve been outsmarted or cheated.”

“Do you think he won’t pay me?” I asked with sharp apprehension. “I worked awful hard.”

“Oh, he’ll pay you all right,” Uncle Joseph said, “don’t let that worry you. He’ll pay the exact amount according to his own ideas of what’s right. His ideas and yours and mine might not gee. That’s all.”

I couldn’t quite follow this but I was glad to know that Mr. Grigsby could be counted on to pay me three cents a bushel for the fifteen, twenty, twentyfive bushels of weeds I had garnered with such pains.

I may have been a few minutes late at my rendezvous with Grigsby for I dwelt on the road, puzzled by what Uncle Joseph had said and perhaps afraid that I would do or say the wrong thing in the approaching interview. At any rate, Mr. Grigsby was there ahead of me, complete with a bushel basket and a four-tined fork — and, curiously enough, he was not angry.

“Huh!” he grunted, “here I be and you’re late. You take the basket, bub.”

I looked down the line of heaps. Surely they looked smaller than they had been; they had shrunk overnight. Mr. Grigsby took his fork and began turning the first heap. Carefully he shook all the dirt loose and raked the stones and pebbles to one side. When he had finished, there was only a double handful of shrunken, withered pussley, witch grass, and other weeds, hardly covering the bottom of the basket. He repeated this process with each heap, and with each heap I died a little death. At the end of twenty rows the basket was about full. “That’s one bushel, now, isn’t it, Mr. Grigsby?” I asked anxiously. “No, ‘tain’t,” he said, “that ain’t good measure, the way I see it. Why, that bushel’s three-quarters air, not weeds. See here!”

He stepped into the basket and began treading down the weeds. When he stepped out, the basket was only one-third full. I was horror-struck.

“But Mr. Grigsby,” I said, “nothing was said about forking the weeds or drying them or treading them down ...”

“I said I’d pay three cents a bushel for weeds, not dirt ‘n’ air, an’ I will. Them’s weeds,”he said, pointing at the basket.

He was right; that was the worst of it, he was right but he was mean. I couldn’t speak. So we went on to the bitter end, forking and raking and treading them down. I lugged the heavy basket from row to row and stood by in silence while he repeated his hateful routine. At last we finished. The basket was cram, jam full and running over. It wouldn’t have held another weed.

“Thar,” he said, “thet’s good measure, thet is. You done a fair to middlin’ job and I’ll pay you right. Three cents a bushel, we agreed, and one bushel it is. Here’s your pay, hub . . .” and he held out his hand.

I suppose there were three pennies in it, but I couldn’t see them or him. I couldn’t speak either. I knew I ought to say something. Uncle Joseph had told me not to show my feelings, but I didn’t, know what my feelings were. It was all confusion and strange lights and noises and, inside of me, somebody’s heart, ticking slowly.

I suppose, too, that l turned and ran away, for I can only remember my feeling of misery and the need I had to go away from there as quickly as I could. For all this was wrong; it was wrong. Grown-up men cheated and lied. And I had worked so hard and done my share, and now I was cheated. At last I found myself in my sanctuary, in the upper hayloft in the barn, and there I dissolved.

5

YEARS afterwards Uncle Joseph, an old, old man then, told me what had happened that afternoon. It was the day after Father’s funeral and we were sitting sadly in Uncle Joseph’s “office,” talking of remembered things.

“ I’ll never forget,”he said, almost with a chuckle, “the day that skunk, Clem Grigsby, cheated you after you hoed his corn.”

“I won’t forget it either,” I said. “The mean scoundrel made me think the world was a bad place. I might have been permanently soured if Father and you hadn’t cheered me up.”

“ Yes,” said Uncle Joseph, shifting his great bent body in the chair, “we had to arrange things, kind of let you down easy.”

“Why,” I said, “what happened? I don’t remember.”

“No,” he said, “you wouldn’t remember ‘cause you never knew. Your Pa made me promise not to tell you and I never have. It don’t always payfor a young fella to know how things are worked and who pulls the strings. Time enough when he has to pull the strings himself. Well, I can tell you now. ‘Twasn’t very important and it was kind of humorous at that.

“You see, your Pa and I, we kind of suspected that Clem Grigsby was up to some meanness, so when you went up to measure the weeds, we sauntered along behind you and took cover behind a wall in the woods near the cornfield. If cither of you had looked you’d a seen us, I being kind of tall in those days.

“We watched him winnowin’ his weeds and we watched him stompin’ ‘em down and we watched you sayin’ nothin’ and sufferin’ dreadful. An’ when he offered you his three cents and you come a-runnin’ past us with your wide eyes an’ your white face, pore little fella, I thought your Pa’d go crazy. He was all set to tear Clem Grigsby apart and eat him raw. I had to pacify him real hard.

“I said to him when I got him pacified, ‘Look, John, I can’t be a witness to your assaultin’ and batterin’ Clem Grigsby in his own field. Accordin’ to the letter of the law he’s done no wrong an’ we’ve both been justices of the peace,’ I said. ‘I’ve no objection to your talkin’ to him man-fashion but you can’t just go out there and leap on him like a catamount.’ After a while he agreed to act reasonable and we walked out to Grigsby, who was fixin’ to burn his weeds.

“Your Pa says jo him, real sad and serious, ‘Mr. Grigsby, I am sorry for you,’ he says. ‘You must have had a very hard and unhappy life.’

“‘What’s my life to you?’ says Grigsby. ‘You mind your own business!’

“‘Otherwise,’ your Pa went on, ‘you couldn’t have persuaded yourself to deceive a little boy who had honestly worked for y ou.'

‘“Why, damn you!’ Grigsby said, an’ he swung on your Pa, awful quick for so big a man, an’ landed right on his jaw. An’ your Pa went down backward with his eyes shut. Grigsby come on an’ looked like he was minded to kick but I growled some an’ he stopped. So he turned around and went, off, sweatin’ and grumblin’ and shakin’ his fist.

“After a while your Pa came to and asked the usual questions, where was he, what happened, et cetera. I explained, and when begot things straight, he sat there and begun to laugh. ’Joe,’he says, ‘that didn’t work right or according to Hoyle. I spoke to him nice and pretty just as you asked me to . .

“‘I didn’t ask you to lead with your jawy,’I says.

“‘No,’ says your Pa, ‘but according to the books he should have quailed before my righteous wrath. Did you see him quail?’

“‘Now that you mention it,’I said, ‘I didn’t notice any quailing to speak of, not what you’d call any real, first-class, high-grade quailing, that is.’

“Your Pa got up and dusted himself off. He says, ‘It looks like I should have to stop wordin’ Neighbor Grigsby, and smite him vi et armis.'

“‘Seem’ that he assaulted you first, that is your right and privilege,’ I says. So we sauntered along and found friend Grigsby putterin’ around front of his woodshed. This time your Pa didn’t waste time quotin’ Shakespeare or makin’ Fourth o’ July orations. He started right in persuadin’ our Mr. Grigsby of the error of his ways. I don’t know as I ever saw a man of forty-five do a better job of persuadin’. Grigsby was tough and hard as an anvil, hut your Pa could have licked a train of cars on that occasion. All the time they was arguin’, that crazy wife of his kep’ jumpin’ around behind the kitchen window, crowin’ and clappin’ her hands. She was real pleased, seemed like, and that didn’t increase my sympathy for Grigsby much. So when he was completely persuaded, I stepped up with a paper I had prepared after our talk that mornin’ and read it to him. After some argument lie signed it and we went away. I’ve got it still, somewhere in my safe. Yes, that’s how it was. Your Pa was a good man.”

Then I remembered. I remembered how that day I had come down from my sanctuary outwardly composed, at least as long as no one spoke to me or asked me questions, and how I had found Father and Uncle Joseph in front of the barn. Father was washing his face at the pump. “It’s all right, Jackie,” he said, “you can send for your soldiers.”

I hated him. In my misery I hated my father. How could he, how could he drag out that shame into the light of day and expose it all naked for everyone to laugh at ? I wanted once more to run away and hide. “I don’t want his money,” I blurted, “I won’t take his money. And I don’t want any soldiers. Any! Ever!”

Father looked up at me quickly from his towel. Then he said, very gently and seriously, “Neither you nor I, Jackie, want or would take any money from Clem Grigsby, but we both want and insist on fair treatment. I got him to admit that you had done a good day’s work. We also agreed that a full day’s work by a boy was equal in this case to half a day’s work by a grown man. So he has promised in writing to do half a day’s work for me whenever I call oil him to do it. A day’s wages for a man are a dollar and a half, so you have earned seventy-five cents, earned it outright by your own work, to be paid for in my money.”He handed me a half dollar and a quarter. Slowly an understanding and happiness flowed over me. This thing was fair; it was righteous and just; it fitted together and satisfied like two triangles making a true square.

“Oh, Father.”I gasped and started to go. Just then Mother, who had come up quietly, stopped me with a hand on my arm. “Where are you going, Jackie?” she asked.

“I’ve got a letter to write,” I said. “It’s an awful important letter, Mother, I’ve got to write it right away.”

“Wait a minute,” she said, “and I’ll go with you.” Then she looked hard at Father. “John Prescott,” she said, “what have you been doing to your face? You have a great lump on your chin. And that eye and that ear!” It was true, Father’s face was damaged, but somehow it was a beautiful face, the damaged face of righteousness.

Father smiled at her. “Mighty mean old cow,” he said guilelessly, “butted and kicked like anything.”

Mother turned to go, holding me by the hand. “ I’ll get some hot water and I’ll make a poultice for your eye,” she said. She looked at Father again. “My goodness,” she said, biting her lip, “that is a mean old cow, I must say.”

“Excuse me, my dear,”Uncle Joseph put in, ”was, not is. Real peaceable now.” He cleared his throat and turned his blue eyes upward toward the gilded weal her vane. “Dehorned, kind of,”he added mildly.

But I couldn’t listen any longer to their foolish grown-up talk. I had to write Mr. Hosea Bodkin a most important letter.