August 30, 2006


"Do you understand the care of a garden?" asked Miss Priscilla.
"Yes," answered Andy, promptly.
"Then you are used to agricultural labor?"
"I've been workin' on a farm all summer."
"Our man has just left us, and we must hire somebody else."
"Just so," chimed in Sophia.
"And if you are competent----"
"Just so."
"Try me," said Andy.
"I really think we'd better, Sophia," said Priscilla, turning to her
"Just so."
"We'll try you for a week. What compensation do you require?"
"Is it wages you mane?"
Of course, Sophia was the speaker.
"How much did you give the man you had before me?" asked Andy,
"Twenty-five dollars a month and board."
"That'll suit me," said Andy, audaciously.
At the farmer's for whom he had been working he had received board and
a dollar a week.
"But you are a boy. Men folks get more than boys."
"I'll do as much work as he did any day," said Andy, stoutly.
"I really don't know what to say. I think we'll give you five dollars
the first week, and then we will decide about the future."
"Just so," said Sophia.
"I'm to eat here?" inquired Andy.
"Yes, you will make your home here. We will put you in John's room."
"When shall I begin?"
"We shall need some wood split at once."
"All right, ma'am; but it's dinner time. I'll just go home and get a
bite to keep up my strength."
"You can have your dinner here. It will be ready in half an hour."
"Just so."
"All right," said Andy; "I'm agreeable."
"Do you live in the village?"
"I do now. My mother lives up the road a bit."
"Very well. Go and split some wood, and we'll call you in to dinner.
You'll find the ax and the saw in the shed."
Andy found the articles referred to, and straight-way went to work. He
was really a "smart boy to work," as the phrase is, and he went to
work with a will. He was greatly elated at having secured so
profitable a job. He meant to give satisfaction, so as to keep it.
Five dollars a week and board seemed to him a magnificent income, and
compared very favorably with his wages at Farmer Belknap's, where he
had been working all summer.
"It's lucky I came here," he said to himself, as he plied the saw
energetically; "but what queer old ladies they are, especially the one
that's always sayin' 'just so.' If I'd tell her I'd got fifty-seven
grand-children I'll bet she'd say, 'Just so.'"
Miss Sophia was looking out of the back window to see how their new
"man" worked. Occasionally Priscilla, as she was setting the table,
glanced out of the window in passing.
"He takes hold as if he knew how," she observed.
"Just so," responded her sister.
"I think he works faster than John."
"Just so."
"It's very strange that he should be the great-grandson of the great
"Just so."
"And that he should be sawing wood for us, too."
"Just so."
"I think we must be kind to him, sister."
"Just so. He won't try to kiss you, Priscilla," said Sophia, with a
sudden thought.
"You are a goose, sister," said Priscilla.
"Just so," assented the other, from force of habit.
In due time dinner was ready, and Andy was summoned from the woodpile.
He was in nowise sorry for the summons. He had a hearty appetite at
all times, and just now it was increased by his unrequited labor in
turning the grindstone for Deacon Jones, as well as by the half-hour
he had spent at his new task.
The Misses Grant did their own work, as I have before observed. They
were excellent cooks, and the dinner now upon the table, though plain,
was very savory and inviting. Andy's eyes fairly danced with
satisfaction as they rested on the roast beef and vegetables, which
emitted an odor of a highly satisfactory character. At the farmer's
where he had last worked, the table had been plentifully supplied, but
the cooking was very rudimentary.
"Sit down, Andrew," said Miss Priscilla. "I think that is your name."
"They call me 'Andy,' ma'am."
"That means Andrew. Shall I give you some meat?"
"Thank you, ma'am."
"Will you have it rare or well done?"
"Well done, ma'am. I have it rare enough, anyhow."
"Sophia, Andrew has made a joke," said Priscilla, with a decorous
"Just so, Priscilla," and Sophia smiled also.
"I suppose your family has been reduced to poverty, Andrew, or you
would not be seeking employment of this character?"
"True for you, ma'am," said Andy, with his mouth full.
"How was your family property lost?"
"Faith, ma'am, by speculation," said Andy, hazarding a guess.
"That is very sad. Sophia, we must never speculate."
"Just so, Priscilla."
"Or we might lose all our money."
"And have to saw wood for a living," said Sophia, with another
brilliant idea.
Andy was so amused at the picture thus suggested that he came near
choking, but recovered himself, after a violent attack of coughing.
"I am afraid, Sophia, we should scarcely make a living in that way,"
said Priscilla, with a smile.
"Just so," acquiesced her sister.
"How long have you been in this country, Andrew?"
"Six years, ma'am."
Andy kept at work industriously. His appetite proved to be quite equal
to the emergency, but his evident enjoyment of the dinner only
gratified the ladies, who, though eccentric, were kind-hearted, and
not in the least mean.
"What will I do, ma'am?" asked our hero.
"You may go on sawing wood."
So Andy resumed work, and worked faithfully during the afternoon. By
this time there was a large pile of wood ready for the stove.
At half-past four Miss Priscilla appeared at the door.
"Andrew," she said.
"Yes, ma'am."
"Do you feel tired?"
"A little, ma'am."
"Does your mother know where you are?"
"No, ma'am."
"Would you like to go home and tell her?"
"Yes, ma'am, I would."
"You can go now or after supper, as you prefer."
"Then I'll go now."
"But remember, we want you to come back and sleep here. We do not feel
safe without a man in the house."
Andy felt rather flattered at being referred to as a man.
"I'll be back any time you name, ma'am," he said.
"Then be here at nine o'clock."
"Very well, ma'am."
Andy put on his coat and hurried home. He wanted to tell his mother
and Mary the good news about his engagement at such unexpected good
Mrs. Burke looked up inquiringly as he entered the house.
"Where have you been, Andy?" she asked. "I thought I had lost you."
"You don't lose me so easy, mother. Shure, I've been at work."
"At work?"
"Yes--I've got a place."
"What, already? You are lucky, Andy."
"You'll think so, mother. How much do you think I get besides board,
"A dollar a week?"
"What do you say to three dollars?"
"You're a lucky boy, Andy. I'm glad for you."
"What do you say to five dollars a week, mother?" asked Andy, in
"You're jokin' now, Andy," said his sister. "I don't believe you've
got a place at all."
"I have, thin, and it's five dollars a week I'm to get. Ask the ould
maids I'm workin' for."
"The Miss Grants?"
"I expect so. They're mighty queer old ladies. One of 'm is always
sayin' 'just so.'"
"That is Miss Sophia Grant."
"Just so," said Andy, mimicking her.
"You mustn't do that, Andy. Then it's them you're workin' for?"
"Yes, and they're mighty kind. I'm goin' back to sleep there to-night.
They want a man to purtect them."
Mary laughed.
"Do you call yourself a man, Andy? What could you do if a burglar
tried to get in?"
"I'd give him what Paddy did the drum," said Andy.
"Supper is ready," announced his mother.
It was a cheerful meal. Andy had done much better than his mother
expected, and it seemed likely that they would get along in spite of
her being discharged by Mrs. Preston.
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