When Una got home Faith was lying face downwards on her bed, utterl_efusing to be comforted. Aunt Martha had killed Adam. He was reposing on _latter in the pantry that very minute, trussed and dressed, encircled by hi_iver and heart and gizzard. Aunt Martha heeded Faith's passion of grief an_nger not a whit.
"We had to have something for the strange minister's dinner," she said.
"You're too big a girl to make such a fuss over an old rooster. You knew he'_ave to be killed sometime."
"I'll tell father when he comes home what you've done," sobbed Faith.
"Don't you go bothering your poor father. He has troubles enough. And I'_ousekeeper here."
"Adam was MINE—Mrs. Johnson gave him to me. You had no business to touc_im," stormed Faith.
"Don't you get sassy now. The rooster's killed and there's an end of it. _in't going to set no strange minister down to a dinner of cold b'iled mutton.
I was brought up to know better than that, if I have come down in the world."
Faith would not go down to supper that night and she would not go to churc_he next morning. But at dinner time she went to the table, her eyes swolle_ith crying, her face sullen.
The Rev. James Perry was a sleek, rubicund man, with a bristling whit_oustache, bushy white eyebrows, and a shining bald head. He was certainly no_andsome and he was a very tiresome, pompous sort of person. But if he ha_ooked like the Archangel Michael and talked with the tongues of men an_ngels Faith would still have utterly detested him. He carved Adam u_exterously, showing off his plump white hands and very handsome diamond ring.
Also, he made jovial remarks all through the performance. Jerry and Car_iggled, and even Una smiled wanly, because she thought politeness demande_t. But Faith only scowled darkly. The Rev. James thought her manner_hockingly bad. Once, when he was delivering himself of an unctuous remark t_erry, Faith broke in rudely with a flat contradiction. The Rev. James dre_is bushy eyebrows together at her.
"Little girls should not interrupt," he said, "and they should no_ontradict people who know far more than they do."
This put Faith in a worse temper than ever. To be called "little girl" a_f she were no bigger than chubby Rilla Blythe over at Ingleside! It wa_nsufferable. And how that abominable Mr. Perry did eat! He even picked poo_dam's bones. Neither Faith nor Una would touch a mouthful, and looked upo_he boys as little better than cannibals. Faith felt that if that awful repas_id not soon come to an end she would wind it up by throwing something at Mr.
Perry's gleaming head. Fortunately, Mr. Perry found Aunt Martha's leather_pple pie too much even for his powers of mastication and the meal came to a_nd, after a long grace in which Mr. Perry offered up devout thanks for th_ood which a kind and beneficent Providence had provided for sustenance an_emperate pleasure.
"God hadn't a single thing to do with providing Adam for you," muttere_aith rebelliously under her breath.
The boys gladly made their escape to outdoors, Una went to help Aunt Marth_ith the dishes—though that rather grumpy old dame never welcomed her timi_ssistance—and Faith betook herself to the study where a cheerful wood fir_as burning in the grate. She thought she would thereby escape from the hate_r. Perry, who had announced his intention of taking a nap in his room durin_he afternoon. But scarcely had Faith settled herself in a corner, with _ook, when he walked in and, standing before the fire, proceeded to survey th_isorderly study with an air of disapproval.
"You father's books seem to be in somewhat deplorable confusion, my littl_irl," he said severely.
Faith darkled in her corner and said not a word. She would NOT talk t_his—this creature.
"You should try to put them in order," Mr. Perry went on, playing with hi_andsome watch chain and smiling patronizingly on Faith. "You are quite ol_nough to attend to such duties. MY little daughter at home is only ten an_he is already an excellent little housekeeper and the greatest help an_omfort to her mother. She is a very sweet child. I wish you had the privileg_f her acquaintance. She could help you in many ways. Of course, you have no_ad the inestimable privilege of a good mother's care and training. A sa_ack—a very sad lack. I have spoken more than once to your father in thi_onnection and pointed out his duty to him faithfully, but so far with n_ffect. I trust he may awaken to a realization of his responsibility before i_s too late. In the meantime, it is your duty and privilege to endeavour t_ake your sainted mother's place. You might exercise a great influence ove_our brothers and your little sister—you might be a true mother to them. _ear that you do not think of these things as you should. My dear child, allo_e to open your eyes in regard to them."
Mr. Perry's oily, complacent voice trickled on. He was in his element.
Nothing suited him better than to lay down the law, patronize and exhort. H_ad no idea of stopping, and he did not stop. He stood before the fire, hi_eet planted firmly on the rug, and poured out a flood of pompous platitudes.
Faith heard not a word. She was really not listening to him at all. But sh_as watching his long black coat-tails with impish delight growing in he_rown eyes. Mr. Perry was standing VERY near the fire. His coat-tails began t_corch—his coat-tails began to smoke. He still prosed on, wrapped up in hi_wn eloquence. The coat-tails smoked worse. A tiny spark flew up from th_urning wood and alighted in the middle of one. It clung and caught and sprea_nto a smouldering flame. Faith could restrain herself no longer and brok_nto a stifled giggle.
Mr. Perry stopped short, angered over this impertinence. Suddenly he becam_onscious that a reek of burning cloth filled the room. He whirled round an_aw nothing. Then he clapped his hands to his coat-tails and brought the_round in front of him. There was already quite a hole in one of them—and thi_as his new suit. Faith shook with helpless laughter over his pose an_xpression.
"Did you see my coat-tails burning?" he demanded angrily.
"Yes, sir," said Faith demurely.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he demanded, glaring at her.
"You said it wasn't good manners to interrupt, sir," said Faith, mor_emurely still.
"If—if I was your father, I would give you a spanking that you woul_emember all your life, Miss," said a very angry reverend gentleman, as h_talked out of the study. The coat of Mr. Meredith's second best suit woul_ot fit Mr. Perry, so he had to go to the evening service with his singe_oat-tail. But he did not walk up the aisle with his usual consciousness o_he honour he was conferring on the building. He never would agree to a_xchange of pulpits with Mr. Meredith again, and he was barely civil to th_atter when they met for a few minutes at the station the next morning. Bu_aith felt a certain gloomy satisfaction. Adam was partially avenged.