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|Chronicles of Avonlea||Lucy Maud Montgomery|
IX. Pa Sloane's Purchase
|Page 4 of 6||
"Twenty," vociferated Pa.
"Twenty-five," bellowed Clarke.
"Thirty," shrieked Pa. He nearly bust a blood-vessel in his shrieking, but he had won. Clarke turned off with a laugh and a shrug, and the baby was knocked down to Pa Sloane by the auctioneer, who had meanwhile been keeping the crowd in roars of laughter by a quick fire of witticisms. There had not been such fun at an auction in Carmody for many a long day.
Pa Sloane came, or was pushed, forward. The baby was put into his arms; he realized that he was expected to keep it, and he was too dazed to refuse; besides, his heart went out to the child.
The auctioneer looked doubtfully at the money which Pa laid mutely down.
"I s'pose that part was only a joke," he said.
"Not a bit of it," said Robert Lawson. "All the money won't bee too much to pay the debts. There's a doctor's bill, and this will just about pay it."
Pa Sloane drove back home, with the sorrel mare still unshod, the baby, and the baby's meager bundle of clothes. The baby did not trouble him much; it had become well used to strangers in the past two months, and promptly fell asleep on his arm; but Pa Sloane did not enjoy that drive; at the end of it; he mentally saw Ma Sloane.
Ma was there, too, waiting for him on the back door-step as he drove into the yard at sunset. Her face, when she saw the baby, expressed the last degree of amazement.
"Pa Sloane," she demanded, "whose is that young one, and there did you get it?"
"I--I-- bought it at the auction, Ma," said Pa feebly. Then he waited for the explosion. None came. This last exploit of Pa's was too much for Ma.
With a gasp she snatched the baby from Pa's arms, and ordered him to go out and put the mare in. When Pa returned to the kitchen Ma had set the baby on the sofa, fenced him around with chairs so that he couldn't fall off and given him a molassed cooky.
"Now, Pa Sloane, you can explain," she said.
Pa explained. Ma listened in grim silence until he had finished. Then she said sternly:
"Do you reckon we're going to keep this baby?"
"I--I-- dunno," said Pa. And he didn't.
"Well, we're NOT. I brought up one boy and that's enough. I don't calculate to be pestered with any more. I never was much struck on children _as_ children, anyhow. You say that Mary Garland had a brother out in Mantioba? Well, we shall just write to him and tell him he's got to look out for his nephew."
"But how can you do that, Ma, when nobody knows his address?" objected Pa, with a wistful look at that delicious, laughing baby.
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|Chronicles of Avonlea
Lucy Maud Montgomery
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