XXXIII. Carl Is--Not—Whipped
"There is something I think I ought to tell you," said Mary Vance mysteriously.
She and Faith and Una were walking arm in arm through the village, having
foregathered at Mr. Flagg's store. Una and Faith exchanged looks which said,
"NOW something disagreeable is coming." When Mary Vance thought she ought
to tell them things there was seldom much pleasure in the hearing. They often
wondered why they kept on liking Mary Vance--for like her they did, in spite of
everything. To be sure, she was generally a stimulating and agreeable
companion. If only she would not have those convictions that it was her duty to
tell them things!
"Do you know that Rosemary West won't marry your pa because she thinks you
are such a wild lot? She's afraid she couldn't bring you up right and so she turned
Una's heart thrilled with secret exultation. She was very glad to hear that Miss
West would not marry her father. But Faith was rather disappointed.
"How do you know?" she asked.
"Oh, everybody's saying it. I heard Mrs. Elliott talking it over with Mrs. Doctor.
They thought I was too far away to hear, but I've got ears like a cat's. Mrs. Elliott
said she hadn't a doubt that Rosemary was afraid to try stepmothering you
because you'd got such a reputation. Your pa never goes up the hill now. Neither
does Norman Douglas. Folks say Ellen has jilted him just to get square with him
for jilting her ages ago. But Norman is going about declaring he'll get her yet. And
I think you ought to know you've spoiled your pa's match and _I_ think it's a pity,
for he's bound to marry somebody before long, and Rosemary West would have
been the best wife _I_ know of for him."
"You told me all stepmothers were cruel and wicked," said Una.
"Oh--well," said Mary rather confusedly, "they're mostly awful cranky, I know. But
Rosemary West couldn't be very mean to any one. I tell you if your pa turns
round and marries Emmeline Drew you'll wish you'd behaved yourselves better
and not frightened Rosemary out of it. It's awful that you've got such a reputation
that no decent woman'll marry your pa on account of you. Of course, _I_ know
that half the yarns that are told about you ain't true. But give a dog a bad name.
Why, some folks are saying that it was Jerry and Carl that threw the stones
through Mrs. Stimson's window the other night when it was really them two Boyd
boys. But I'm afraid it was Carl that put the eel in old Mrs. Carr's buggy, though I
said at first I wouldn't believe it until I'd better proof than old Kitty Alec's word. I
told Mrs. Elliott so right to her face."
"What did Carl do?" cried Faith.
"Well, they say--now, mind, I'm only telling you what people say--so there's no
use in your blaming me for it--that Carl and a lot of other boys were fishing eels
over the bridge one evening last week. Mrs. Carr drove past in that old rattletrap
buggy of hers with the open back. And Carl he just up and threw a big eel into
the back. When poor old Mrs. Carr was driving up the hill by Ingleside that eel
came squirming out between her feet. She thought it was a snake and she just