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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Story Of Waitstill Baxter - Winter - Chapter 28. Patty Is Shown The Door
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The Story Of Waitstill Baxter - Winter - Chapter 28. Patty Is Shown The Door Post by :jimlooper Category :Long Stories Author :Kate Douglas Wiggin Date :May 2012 Read :2127

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The Story Of Waitstill Baxter - Winter - Chapter 28. Patty Is Shown The Door


DEACON BAXTER drove into the barn, and flinging a blanket over the wheezing horse, closed the door behind him and hurried into the house without even thinking to lay down his whip.

Opening the kitchen door and stopping outside long enough to kick the snow from his heavy boots, he strode into the kitchen and confronted the two girls. He looked at them sharply before he spoke, scanning their flushed faces and tear-stained eyes; then he broke out savagely:--

"Oh! you're both here; that's lucky. Now stan' up and answer to me. What's this I hear at the Mills about Patience,--common talk outside the store?"

The time had come, then, and by some strange fatality, when Mark was too far away to be of service.

"Tell me what you heard, father, and I can give you a better answer," Patty replied, hedging to gain time, and shaking inwardly.

"Bill Morrill says his brother that works in New Hampshire reports you as ridin' through the streets of Allentown last Monday with a young man."

There seemed but one reply to this, so Patty answered tremblingly: "He says what's true; I was there."

"WHAT!" And it was plain from the Deacon's voice that he had really disbelieved the rumor. A whirlwind of rage swept through him and shook him from head to foot.

"Do you mean to stan' there an' own up to me that you was thirty miles away from home with a young man?" he shouted.

"If you ask me a plain question, I've got to tell you the truth, father: I was."

"How dare you carry on like that and drag my name into scandal, you worthless trollop, you? Who went along with you? I'll skin the hide off him, whoever 't was!"

Patty remained mute at this threat, but Waitstill caught her hand and whispered: "Tell him all, dear; it's got to come out. Be brave, and I'll stand by you."

"Why are you interferin' and puttin' in your meddlesome oar?" the Deacon said, turning to Waitstill. "The girl would never 'a' been there if you'd attended to your business. She's nothin' but a fool of a young filly, an' you're an old cart-horse. It was your job to look out for her as your mother told you to. Anybody might 'a' guessed she needed watchin'!"

"You shall not call my sister an old cart-horse! I'll not permit it!" cried Patty, plucking up courage in her sister's defence, and as usual comporting herself a trifle more like a spitfire than a true heroine of tragedy.

"Hush, Patty! Let him call me anything that he likes; it makes no difference at such a time."

"Waitstill knew nothing of my going away till this afternoon," continued Patty. "I kept it secret from her on purpose, because I was afraid she would not approve. I went with Mark Wilson, and--and--I married him in New Hampshire because we couldn't do it at home without every-body's knowledge. Now you know all."

"Do you mean to tell me you've gone an' married that reckless, wuthless, horse-trottin', card-playin' sneak of a Wilson boy that's courted every girl in town? Married the son of a man that has quarrelled with me and insulted me in public? By the Lord Harry, I'll crack this whip over your shoulders once before I'm done with you! If I'd used it years ago you might have been an honest woman to-day, instead of a--"

Foxwell Baxter had wholly lost control of himself, and the temper, that had never been governed or held in check, lashed itself into a fury that made him for the moment unaccountable for his words or actions.

Waitstill took a step forward in front of Patty. "Put down that whip, father, or I'll take it from you and break it across my knee!" Her eyes blazed and she held her head high. "You've made me do the work of a man, and, thank God, I've got the muscle of one. Don't lift a finger to Patty, or I'll defend her, I promise you! The dinner-horn is in the side entry and two blasts will bring Uncle Bart up the hill, but I'd rather not call him unless you force me to."

The Deacon's grasp on the whip relaxed, and he fell back a little in sheer astonishment at the bravado of the girl, ordinarily so quiet and self-contained. He was speechless for a second, and then recovered breath enough to shout to the terrified Patty: "I won't use the whip till I hear whether you've got any excuse for your scandalous behavior. Hear me tell you one thing: this little pleasure-trip o' yourn won't do you no good, for I'll break the marriage! I won't have a Wilson in my family if I have to empty a shot-gun into him; but your lies and your low streets are so beyond reason I can't believe my ears. What's your excuse, I say?"

"Stop a minute, Patty, before you answer, and let me say a few things that ought to have been said before now," interposed Waitstill. "If Patty has done wrong, father, you've no one but yourself to thank for it, and it's only by God's grace that nothing worse has happened to her. What could you expect from a young thing like that, with her merry heart turned into a lump in her breast every day by your cruelty? Did she deceive you? Well, you've made her afraid of you ever since she was a baby in the cradle, drawing the covers over her little head when she heard your step. Whatever crop you sow is bound to come up, father; that's Nature's law, and God's, as well."

"You hold your tongue, you,--readin' the law to your elders an' betters," said the old man, choking with wrath. "My business is with this wuthless sister o' yourn, not with you!--You've got your coat and hood on, miss, so you jest clear out o' the house; an' if you're too slow about it, I'll help you along. I've no kind of an idea you're rightly married, for that young Wilson sneak couldn't pay so high for you as all that; but if it amuses you to call him your husband, go an' find him an' stay with him. This is an honest house, an' no place for such as you!"

Patty had a good share of the Baxter temper, not under such control as Waitstill's, and the blood mounted into her face.

"You shall not speak to me so!" she said intrepidly, while keeping a discreet eye on the whip. "I'm not a--a--caterpillar to be stepped on, I'm a married woman, as right as a New Hampshire justice can make me, with a wedding-ring and a certificate to show, if need be. And you shall not call my husband names! Time will tell what he is going to be, and that's a son-in-law any true father would be proud to own!"

"Why are you set against this match, father?" argued Waitstill, striving to make him hear reason. "Patty has married into one of the best families in the village. Mark is gay and thought-less, but never has he been seen the worse for liquor, and never has he done a thing for which a wife need hang her head. It is something for a young fellow of four-and-twenty to be able to provide for a wife and keep her in comfort; and when all is said and done, it is a true love-match."

Patty seized this inopportune moment to forget her father's presence, and the tragic nature of the occasion, and, in her usual impetuous fashion, flung her arms around Waitstill's neck and gave her the hug of a young bear.

"My own dear sister," she said. "I don't mind anything, so long as you stand up for us."

"Don't make her go to-night, father," pleaded Waitstill. "Don't send your own child out into the cold. Remember her husband is away from home."

"She can find another up at the Mills as good as he is, or better. Off with you, I say, you trumpery little baggage, you!"

"Go, then, dear, it is better so; Uncle Bart will keep you overnight; run up and get your things"; and Waitstill sank into a chair, realizing the hopelessness of the situation.

"She'll not take anything from my house. It's her husband's business to find her in clothes."

"They'll be better ones than ever you found me," was Patty's response.

No heroics for her; no fainting fits at being disowned; no hysterics at being turned out of house and home; no prayers for mercy, but a quick retort for every gibe from her father; and her defiant attitude enraged the Deacon the more.

"I won't speak again," he said, in a tone that could not be mistaken. "Into the street you go, with the clothes you stand up in, or I'll do what I said I'd do."

"Go, Patty, it's the only thing to be done. Don't tremble, for nobody shall touch a hair of your head. I can trust you to find shelter to-night, and Mark will take care of you to-morrow."

Patty buttoned her shabby coat and tied on her hood as she walked from the kitchen through the sitting-room towards the side door, her heart heaving with shame and anger, and above all with a child's sense of helplessness at being parted from her sister.

"Don't tell the neighbors any more lies than you can help," called her father after her retreating form; "an' if any of 'em dare to come up here an' give me any of their imperdence, they'll be treated same as you. Come back here, Waitstill, and don't go to slobberin' any good-byes over her. She ain't likely to get out o' the village for some time if she's expectin' Mark Wilson to take her away."

"I shall certainly go to the door with my sister," said Waitstill coldly, suiting the action to the word, and following Patty out on the steps. "Shall you tell Uncle Bart everything, dear, and ask him to let you sleep at his house?"

Both girls were trembling with excitement; Waitstill pale as a ghost, Patty flushed and tearful, with defiant eyes and lips that quivered rebelliously.

"I s'pose so," she answered dolefully; "though Aunt Abby hates me, on account of Cephas. I'd rather go to Dr. Perry's, but I don't like to meet Phil. There doesn't seem to be any good place for me, but it 's only for a night. And you'll not let father prevent your seeing Mark and me to-morrow, will you? Are you afraid to stay alone? I'll sit on the steps all night if you say the word."

"No, no, run along. Father has vented his rage upon you, and I shall not have any more trouble. God bless and keep you, darling. Run along!"

"And you're not angry with me now, Waity? You still love me? And you'll forgive Mark and come to stay with us soon, soon, soon?"

"We'll see, dear, when all this unhappy business is settled, and you are safe and happy in your own home. I shall have much to tell you when we meet to-morrow."

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