BETTY GORDON AT BRAMBLE FARM
AN OMINOUS QUARREL
MRS. O'HARA went back to Glenside at the
end of ten days, leaving Mrs. Peabody well
enough to be about, though the doctor had
cautioned her repeatedly not to overdo. Doctor
Guerin came for Mrs. O'Hara in his car, and it
was to be his last visit unless he was sent for
again. Bob's finger had healed, and he was hard
at work at his carving in spare moments.
"Norma hopes you will come over to see her
soon," said Doctor Guerin to Betty, as he was
leaving. "She and Alice have their heads full of
boarding school. By the way, Betty, what do you
intend to do about school?"
"Well, I keep hoping Uncle Dick will write.
It's been three weeks since I've had any kind of
letter," answered Betty. She had long ago told
the doctor about her uncle and the reasons that
led to her coming to Bramble Farm. "When he
wrote he was in a town where there were only six
houses and no hotel. He must come East soon,
and then he will receive my letters and send for
me. I'm sure I could go to school and keep house
for him, too."
The car with the doctor and his convincing personality and Mrs. O'Hara and her quick tongue
and heavy hand were hardly out of sight, before
Mr. Peabody assumed command of his household.
He had been chafing under the rule of that "red-haired female," as he designated the capable Irishwoman, and now he was bound to make the most
of his restored power.
"Gee, he sure is a driver," whispered the perspiring Bob, as Betty came down to the field where
the boy was cultivating corn. Betty had brought
a pail of water and a dipper, and Bob drank
"No, don't give the horse any," he interposed,
as Betty seemed about to hold the pail out to the
sorrel who looked around with patient, pleading
eyes. "He'll have to wait till noon. 'Tisn't good
to water a horse when he's working, anyway. Put
the pail under that tree and it'll keep cool. Lieson
and Wapley go over to the spring when they're
thirsty, but Peabody said he'd whale me if he
caught me leaving the cultivator."
"The mean old thing'" Betty could hardly find
a word to express her indignation.
'Oh, it's all in the day's work," returned Bob
philosophically. "What are you doing?"
"Hanging out clothes for Mrs. Peabody
She's getting another basketful ready now. She
would wash, and that's as much as she'll let me do
to help her, though of course when she irons I
can be useful. I don't think she ought to get up
and go to washing, but you can't stop her."
"Having a woman come to wash about killed
the old man," chuckled Bob, starting the horse as
he saw Mr. Peabody climbing stiffly over the
fence. "Thanks for the water, Betty."
Betty had no wish to meet her host, for whom
another check had come that morning from her
uncle's lawyer. Betty herself was out of money,
Uncle Dick having sent no letter for three weeks
and apparently having made no provision to
bridge the gap.
She hung out clothes till dinner time, and then
helped put the boiled dinner on the table in the
hot, steamy kitchen. Wapley and Lieson ate in
silence, and Bob found a chance to whisper to
Betty that he thought there was "something doing" between them and their employer.
Whatever this something was, there were no
further developments till after supper. Peabody
got up from the table and lurched out to the
kitchen porch to sit on the top step, as was his
invariable custom. He was too mean, his men
said, to smoke a pipe, though he did chew tobacco.
Bob had already taken the milk pails and gone to
As Mrs. Peabody and Betty finished the dishes,
Wapley and Lieson came downstairs) dressed in
their good clothes, and went out on the porch
where Mr. Peabody sat silently.
"Can you let me have a couple of dollars tonight?" asked Lieson civilly. "Jim and me's going over to town for a few hours."
"You'll get no money from me," was the surly
answer. "Fooling away your time and money
Saturday night ought to be enough, without using
the middle of the week for such extravagance.
Anyway, you know well enough I never pay out in
There was an angry murmur from Wapley.
"Who's asking you for money in advance?" he
snarled. "Lieson and me's both got money coming to us, and you know it. You pay us right up
to the jot to-night or we quit!"
Peabody was quite unmoved. He stood up,
leaning against a porch post, his hands in his
"You can quit, and good riddance to you," he
drawled. "But you won't get a cent out of me.
You overdrew, both of you, last Saturday, and
there's nothing coming to you till a week from
The men were a little confused, neither accustomed to reckoning without the aid of pencil and
paper, but Wapley held doggedly to his argument.
"We quit anyway," he announced with more
dignity than Betty thought he possessed. She and
Mrs. Peabody were listening nervously at the
window, both afraid of what the quarrel might
lead to. "You go pack our suitcases, Lieson, and
I will figure up what he owes us. Never again
do we work for a man who cheats."
Peabody leaned up against his post and chewed
tobacco reflectively, while Wapley, tongue in
cheek, struggled with a stub of pencil and a bit
of brown wrapping paper.
"There's twenty-five dollars coming to us," he
announced. "Twelve and a half apiece. Pay
us, and we go."
"I don't know about the going, but I know
there won't be any paying done," sneered Pea-
body, just as Lieson with the two heavy suitcases
staggered through the door and Bob with his two
foaming pails of milk came up the steps.
Bob put down the milk pails to listen, and Wapley took a step toward Mr. Peabody, his face
"You cheater!" he gasped. "You miserable
sneak! You've held back money all season, just
to keep us working through harvest. If I had a
gun I'd shoot you!"
The man was in a terrible rage, and Betty wondered how Mr. Peabody could face him so calmly.
Suddenly she saw something glitter in his hand.
"I've got my pistol right here," he said, raising
his hand to wave the blunt-nosed revolver toward
Wapley. "I'll give you two just three minutes to
get off this place. Go on—I said go!"
Wapley whirled about and saw the milk pails.
He seized one in either hand, raised them high
above his head and dashed the contents furiously
over Bob, Mr. Peabody, the steps and the porch
impartially, sprinkling himself and Lieson liberally, too.
"I never knew how much milk those cows gave,"
Bob said later. "Seems like there must have been
a regular ocean let loose."
Mr. Peabody was furious and very likely would
have fired, but Bob put out his foot and tripped
him, though he managed to pass the matter off as
an accident. Wapley and Lieson trudged slowly
up the lane, carrying the heavy cheap leather suit-
cases. Betty watched them as far as she could
see them, feeling inexpressibly sorry for the two
who had worked through the long hot summer '
and were now leaving an unpleasant place with
what she feared was only a too well-founded
"Some of you women," Peabody included Betty
in the magnificent gesture, "get to work out there
and clean up the milk. There's several pounds of
butter lost, thanks to those no-'count fools. I'm
going after my gun."
"Gun?" faltered Mrs. Peabody.
"Yes, gun," snapped her husband. "I don't
suppose it occurs to you those idiots may take it
into their heads to come back and burn the barns ?
Bob and me will sit up all night and try to save
the cattle, at least."
Bob was furious at the idea of playing lockout
all night, and he was in the frame of mind by
early morning where he probably would have
cheerfully supplied any arson-plotters with the
necessary match. But nothing happened, and very
cross and sleepy, he and Mr. Peabody came in to
breakfast as usual.
Betty, too, had not slept well, having wakened
and pattered to the window many times to see if
the barns were blazing. Indeed, if Lieson and
Wapley had deliberately planned to upset the Peabody family, they could not have succeeded better.
Bob made up his lost sleep the next night, but
his appetite came in for Mr. Peabody's criticism.
"You seem to be aiming to eat me out of house
and home," he observed at dinner a day or two
later. "You don't have to eat everything in
sight, you know. There'11 be another meal later."
Bob blushed violently, not because of the reproof, for he was used to that, but because of
the public disgrace. Betty, the cause of his distress, was as uncomfortable as he, and she experienced an un-Christianlike impulse to throw
the dish of beans at the head of her host.
The following day Bob did not come in to dinner, and Betty, thinking perhaps that he had not
heard Mrs. Peabody call, rose from the table with
the intention of calling him a second time.
"Where are you going?" demanded Mr. Peabody suspiciously.
"To call Bob to dinner," said Betty. "I'm
afraid he didn't hear Mrs. Peabody. The meat
will be all cold."
"You sit down, and don't take things on your-
self that are none of your concern," commanded
Mr. Peabody shortly. "Bob isn't here for dinner,
because I told him not to come. He's getting too
big to thrash, and the only way to bring him to
terms is to cut down his food. Living too high
makes him difficult to handle. This morning he
flatly disobeyed me, but I guess he'll learn not to
do that again. Well, Miss, don't swallow your
impudence. Out with it I"
On to chapter eighteen
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