"Exactly. And this old man wants a[Pg 139] place where he need work only two or three hours a day aspire pegasus 70w . He won't take any wages, but he'd like to have the reading of our books and newspapers. He says he hasn't any use for money as long as he has 'good readin' and nice vittles.'"
I smiled at the persuasive eagerness of her tone. She was evidently bent upon hiring this peculiar old man you beauty hard sell, but she had expected me to make the proposal so that she could gracefully accede to it. There would be certain advantages, I concluded, accruing to the possession of even the fractional part of a hired man. For instance, I would at once be relieved of the stable work and the milking of Mary Jane. Then spring was coming on, and I would be able to enjoy the luxury of watching him toiling in the vegetable garden under Marion's supervision. Furthermore, my birthday would arrive with the first green grass, and there were indications that I would be presented with a lawn-mower.
"Well compass college , what did you tell him?" I asked, trying to look judicial.
"I said that of course it was a matter for[Pg 140] you to decide and I couldn't say anything about it."
I could not repress a gleam of ironical amusement. She was absolutely truthful, yet it was a convention of hers that my word was law, and that I was the autocrat of the household. It was a postulate I dared not dispute.
"Yes, of course," I admitted, in response to her frigid, inquiring glance. "I'll—I'll think it over. In the meantime I'll have a look at him."
"Well, you'd better decide,—that is, I'm quite, quite willing to give the poor old man a trial."
Had I been of a different mind from Marion, I could scarcely have resisted William Wedder's persuasive arguments, and when I had talked with him for a few minutes I did not wonder that she had succumbed to his fascinating eloquence. I knew his praise of my semaphore must be flattery, and yet—I liked it. I felt sure from his manner, his appearance and his conversation that he was merely masquerading as a hired man, but I wanted to see him play[Pg 141] the part, although he looked more like a well-to-do retired farmer taking a holiday than a man who needed to travel about looking for work. He did not present credentials, but I ignored the question of references, which seemed quite unnecessary in view of his obvious respectability. He knew how to do farm work, he assured me; he was handy with tools, understood gardening, and could churn and make butter as well as milk the cow. As to terms, he would not take money, but he would be more than satisfied if he had his board and plenty of reading matter. In the slack time in midsummer,—his smooth-shaven jolly face grew solemn as he spoke,—perhaps, if it wouldn't be too much to ask, and if he needed a new suit of clothes, a township right to sell my gate-closer.