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XVI. Tit For Tat
With Faith, to decide was to act. She lost no time in carrying out the idea. As
soon as she came home from school the next day she left the manse and made
her way down the Glen. Walter Blythe joined her as she passed the post office.
"I'm going to Mrs. Elliott's on an errand for mother," he said. "Where are you
going, Faith?"
"I am going somewhere on church business," said Faith loftily. She did not
volunteer any further information and Walter felt rather snubbed. They walked on
in silence for a little while. It was a warm, windy evening with a sweet, resinous
air. Beyond the sand dunes were gray seas, soft and beautiful. The Glen brook
bore down a freight of gold and crimson leaves, like fairy shallops. In Mr. James
Reese's buckwheat stubble-land, with its beautiful tones of red and brown, a
crow parliament was being held, whereat solemn deliberations regarding the
welfare of crowland were in progress. Faith cruelly broke up the august assembly
by climbing up on the fence and hurling a broken rail at it. Instantly the air was
filled with flapping black wings and indignant caws.
"Why did you do that?" said Walter reproachfully. "They were having such a good
"Oh, I hate crows," said Faith airily. "The are so black and sly I feel sure they're
hypocrites. They steal little birds' eggs out of their nests, you know. I saw one do
it on our lawn last spring. Walter, what makes you so pale to-day? Did you have
the toothache again last night?"
Walter shivered.
"Yes--a raging one. I couldn't sleep a wink--so I just paced up and down the floor
and imagined I was an early Christian martyr being tortured at the command of
Nero. That helped ever so much for a while--and then I got so bad I couldn't
imagine anything."
"Did you cry?" asked Faith anxiously.
"No--but I lay down on the floor and groaned," admitted Walter. "Then the girls
came in and Nan put cayenne pepper in it--and that made it worse--Di made me
hold a swallow of cold water in my mouth--and I couldn't stand it, so they called
Susan. Susan said it served me right for sitting up in the cold garret yesterday
writing poetry trash. But she started up the kitchen fire and got me a hot-water
bottle and it stopped the toothache. As soon as I felt better I told Susan my
poetry wasn't trash and she wasn't any judge. And she said no, thank goodness
she was not and she did not know anything about poetry except that it was
mostly a lot of lies. Now you know, Faith, that isn't so. That is one reason why I
like writing poetry--you can say so many things in it that are true in poetry but
wouldn't be true in prose. I told Susan so, but she said to stop my jawing and go
to sleep before the water got cold, or she'd leave me to see if rhyming would cure
toothache, and she hoped it would be a lesson to me."
"Why don't you go to the dentist at Lowbridge and get the tooth out?"
Walter shivered again.
"They want me to--but I can't. It would hurt so."