Phebe, Her Profession - A Sequel to Teddy: Her Book

Anna Chapin Ray

Phebe, Her Profession, by Anna Chapin Ray

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Title: Phebe, Her Profession A Sequel to Teddy: Her Book
Author: Anna Chapin Ray
Release Date: June 11, 2004 [EBook #12584]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Afra Ullah, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

Phebe, Her Profession
A Sequel to Teddy: Her Book
"How do you do?"
The remark was addressed to a young man who roused himself from a brown study and looked up. Then he looked down to see whence the voice proceeded. Directly in his pathway stood a wee boy, a veritable cherub in modern raiment, whose rosy lips smiled up at him blandly, quite regardless of the sugary smears that surrounded them. One hand clasped a crumpled paper bag; the other held a rusty iron hoop and a cudgel entirely out of proportion to the size of the hoop.
"And how is everybody at your house?" the babe demanded. "Are vey pretty well?"
"Very well, thank you." The young man was endeavoring to remember where, during the two weeks he had spent in Helena, he had seen this child.
"So is my people," the boy explained politely. "It is a great while since I have seen you."
Amicably enough, the stranger accepted his suggestion of a past acquaintance.
"It is a good while. Where have you been keeping yourself?"
The atom tried to drop into step at his side, tangled himself in the long tails of his little coat, gave up the attempt and broke into a jog trot.
"My mamma wouldn't let me go to walk alone for 'most a monf."
"'Cause I used to stay a good while, and spend all my pennies at Jake's shop."
"Where is that?"
"Vat's where vey sells candy. I've got some now. Want some?" He rested the hoop against a convenient lamp-post and opened the bag invitingly.
"Thanks, no. You don't appear to have much to spare."
With a sigh of manifest relief, the child gathered up the crumpled top of the bag once more.
"I did have some," he explained; "but I gave half of it to a boy. Vat's what my Sunday-school teacher said I must do. And ven, by and by, I took his hoop," he added, as he resumed his march.
"Did your Sunday-school teacher tell you to do that?"
"No; but I just fought I would. He couldn't give me half of it, you see, for it wouldn't be good for anyfing if it was busted."
"No?" The stranger felt that the child's logic was better than his moral tone.
"I'm going to be good now, all ve time," the boy went on, looking up with an angelic smile. "When my mamma says 'No, Mac,' I shall say 'All right,' and when my papa smites me, I shall turn ve uvver also. Vat's ve way."
"Does he smite you?"
The smile vanished, as the child slowly nodded three times.
"Yes, awful."
"What did you do to make him smite you?"
"What was it?"
The stranger's voice was not so stern as it might have been, and the smile came back and dimpled the child's cheeks, as he answered,--"Pepper in ve dining-room fireplace."
"What made you do that, you sinner?"
"A boy told me. You ought to have heard vem sneeze, and ven papa fumped me."
The child eyed him distrustfully,
"What for do you want to know?"
"Oh, because--you see, I used to get thumped, myself, sometimes."
"Yes, he fumped awful, and ven he stopped and sneezed, and I sneezed, too, and we all sneezed and had to stop."
"And then did you turn the other also?"
"No; I hadn't begun yet. I only sneezed a great deal, and papa said somefing about rooty ceilings."
In vain the stranger pondered over the last remark. He was unable to discover its application, and accordingly he passed to a more obvious question.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"What's yours?"
"Gifford Barrett."
"Mine is McAlister Holden."
"Um-m. I think I haven't met you before."
"You could if you'd wanted to, I live in ve brown house, and I've seen you lots of times. Once you 'most stepped on me."
"Did I? How did that happen?"
"You were finking of fings and got in my way."
"Was that it?"
"Vat's what my papa says, when I do it. He says I ought to look where I am going." The boy's tone was severe.
There was a pause, while Mac swung his hoop against a post. On the rebound, it struck the stranger a sharp blow just under and back of the knees. He turned and glared at the child.
"I feel just as if I should like to say
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