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Chapter 8

  • At three o'clock The Hopper reached Happy Hill Farm, knocked as before at th_itchen door, and was admitted by Humpy.
  • "Wot ye got now?" snarled the reformed yeggman.
  • "He's gone and done ut ag'in!" wailed Mary, as she spied the basket.
  • "I sure done ut, all right," admitted The Hopper good-naturedly, as he set th_asket on the table where a few hours earlier he had deposited Shaver. "How'_he kid?"
  • Grudging assurances that Shaver was asleep and hostile glances directed at th_ysterious basket did not disturb his equanimity.
  • Humpy was thwarted in an attempt to pry into the contents of the basket by _art reprimand from The Hopper, who with maddening deliberation drew forth th_wo glazes, found that they had come through the night's vicissitude_nscathed, and held them at arm's length, turning them about in leisurel_ashion as though lost in admiration of their loveliness. Then he lighted hi_ipe, seated himself in Mary's rocker, and told his story.
  • It was no easy matter to communicate to his irritable and contumeliou_uditors the sense of Muriel's charm, or the reasonableness of her reques_hat he commit burglary merely to assist her in settling a family row. Mar_ould not understand it; Humpy paced the room nervously, shaking his head an_uttering. It was their judgment, stated with much frankness, that if he ha_een a fool in the first place to steal the child, his character was no_lackened beyond any hope by his later crimes. Mary wept copiously; Humpy mos_nnoyingly kept counting upon his fingers as he reckoned the "time" that wa_n store for all of them.
  • "I guess I got into ut an' I guess I'll git out," remarked The Hoppe_erenely. He was disposed to treat them with high condescension, as incapabl_f appreciating the lofty philosophy of life by which he was sustained.
  • Meanwhile, he gloated over the loot of the night.
  • "Them things is wurt' mints; they's more valible than di'mon's, them thing_s! Only eddicated folks knows about 'em. They's fer emp'rors and kings t' se_p in their palaces, an' men goes nutty jes' hankerin' fer 'em. The pigtail_ade 'em thousand o' years back, an' th' secret died with 'em. They ain'_ever goin' to be no more jugs like them settin' right there. An' them two ol_ports give up their business jes' t' chase things like them. They's som_olks goes loony about chickens, an' hosses, an' fancy dogs, but this her_ind o' collectin' 's only fer millionaires. They's more difficult t' pic_han a lucky race-hoss. They's barrels o' that stuff in them houses, tha_ooked jes' as good as them there, but nowheres as valible."
  • An informal lecture on Chinese ceramics before daylight on Christmas mornin_as not to the liking of the anxious and nerve-torn Mary and Humpy. The_rought The Hopper down from his lofty heights to practical questions touchin_is plans, for the disposal of Shaver in the first instance, and the ceramic_n the second. The Hopper was singularly unmoved by their forebodings.
  • "I guess th' lady got me to do ut!" he retorted finally. "Ef I do time fer u_ reckon's how she's in fer ut, too! An' I seen her pap breakin' into a hous_n' I guess I'd be a state's witness fer that! I reckon they ain't goin' t'
  • put nothin' over on Hop! I guess they won't peep much about kidnapin' with th'
  • kid safe an' us pickin' 'im up out o' th' road an' shelterin' 'im. Them folk_s goin' to be awful nice to Hop fer all he done fer 'em." And then, findin_hat they were impressed by his defense, thus elaborated, he magnanimousl_eferred to the bill-book which had started him on his downward course.
  • "That were a mistake; I grant ye ut were a mistake o' jedgment. I'm goin' t_eep to th' white card. But ut's kind o' funny about that poke—queerest thin_hat ever happened."
  • He drew out the book and eyed the name on the flap. Humpy tried to grab it,
  • but The Hopper, frustrating the attempt, read his colleague a sharp lesson i_ood manners. He restored it to his pocket and glanced at the clock.
  • "We gotta do somethin' about Shaver's stockin's. Ut ain't fair fer a kid t_ake up an' think Santy missed 'im. Ye got some candy, Mary; we kin put cand_nto 'em; that's reg'ler."
  • Humpy brought in Shaver's stockings and they were stuffed with the candy an_opcorn Mary had provided to adorn their Christmas feast. Humpy inventorie_is belongings, but could think of nothing but a revolver that seemed _uitable gift for Shaver. This Mary scornfully rejected as improper for one s_oung. Whereupon Humpy produced a Mexican silver dollar, a treasured pocket-
  • piece preserved through many tribulations, and dropped it reverently into on_f the stockings. Two brass buttons of unknown history, a mouth-organ Mary ha_ought for a neighbor boy who assisted at times in the poultry yard, and _ilver spectacle case of uncertain antecedents were added.
  • "We ought t' 'a' colored eggs fer 'im!" said The Hopper with sudde_nspiration, after the stockings had been restored to Shaver's bed. "Som_aller an' pink eggs would 'a' been the right ticket."
  • Mary scoffed at the idea. Eggs wasn't proper fer Christmas; eggs was fe_aster. Humpy added the weight of his personal experience of Christia_olidays to this statement. While a trusty in the Missouri penitentiary wit_he chicken yard in his keeping, he remembered distinctly that eggs were i_emand for purposes of decoration by the warden's children sometime in th_pring; mebbe it was Easter, mebbe it was Decoration Day; Humpy was not sur_f anything except that it wasn't Christmas.
  • The Hopper was meek under correction. It having been settled that colored egg_ould not be appropriate for Christmas he yielded to their demand that he sho_ome enthusiasm for disposing of his ill-gotten treasures before the polic_rrived to take the matter out of his hands.
  • "I guess that Muriel'll be glad to see me," he remarked. "I guess me and he_nderstands each other. They's things wot is an' things wot ain't; an' I gues_op ain't goin' to spend no Chris'mas in jail. It's the white card an' poultr_n' eggs fer us; an' we're goin' t' put in a couple more incubators righ_way. I'm thinkin' some o' rentin' that acre across th' brook back yonder an'
  • raisin' turkeys. They's mints in turks, ef ye kin keep 'em from gettin' thei_eet wet an' dyin' o' pneumonia, which wipes out thousands o' them birds. _eckon ye might make some coffee, Mary."
  • The Christmas dawn found them at the table, where they were renewing a pledg_o play "the white card" when a cry from Shaver brought them to their feet.
  • Shaver was highly pleased with his Christmas stockings, but his pleasure wa_othing to that of The Hopper, Mary, and Humpy, as they stood about the be_nd watched him. Mary and Humpy were so relieved by The Hopper's promises t_ead a better life that they were now disposed to treat their guest with th_ost distinguished consideration. Humpy, absenting himself to perform hi_orning tasks in the poultry-houses, returned bringing a basket containing si_ewly hatched chicks. These cheeped and ran over Shaver's fat legs an_erformed exactly as though they knew they were a part of his Christma_ntertainment. Humpy, proud of having thought of the chicks, demanded th_rivilege of serving Shaver's breakfast. Shaver ate his porridge without _urmur, so happy was he over his new playthings.
  • Mary bathed and dressed him with care. As the candy had stuck to the stocking_n spots, it was decided after a family conference that Shaver would have t_ear them wrong side out as there was no time to be wasted in washing them. B_ight o'clock The Hopper announced that it was time for Shaver to go home.
  • Shaver expressed alarm at the thought of leaving his chicks; whereupon Hump_onferred two of them upon him in the best imitation of baby talk that h_ould muster.
  • "Me's tate um to me's gwanpas," said Shaver; "chickee for me's two gwanpas,"—_emark which caused The Hopper to shake for a moment with mirth as he recalle_is last view of Shaver's "gwanpas" in a death grip upon the floor of "Gwanpa"
  • Talbot's house.