UP A STUMP. 281
It was kinder thin ice, but I says :
" The captain see me standing around, and told me I better have something to eat before I went ashore ; so he took me in the texas to the officers' lunch, and give me all I wanted."
I was getting so uneasy I couldn't listen good. I had my mind on the children all the time ; I wanted to get them out to one side, and pump them a little, and find out who I was. But I couldn't get no show, Mrs. Phelps kept it up and run on so. Pretty soon she made the cold chills streak all down my back, because she says :
" But here we're a running on this way, and you hain't told me a word about Sis, nor any of them. Now I'll rest my works a little, and you start up yourn ; just tell me everything—tell me all about 'm all—every one of 'm ; and how they are, and what they're doing, and what they told you to tell me ; and every last thing you can think of."
Well, I see I was up a stump—and up it good. Providence had stood by me this fur, all right, but I was hard and tight aground, now. I see it warn't a bit of use to try to go ahead—I'd got to throw up my hand. So I says to myself, here's another place where I got to resk the truth. I opened my mouth to begin ; but she grabbed me and hustled me in behind the bed, and says :
" Here he comes ! stick your head down lower—there, that'll do ; you can't be seen, now. Don't you let on you're here. I'll play a joke on him. Childern, don't you say a word."
I see I was in a fix, now. But it warn't no use to worry; there warn't nothing to do but just hold still, and try and be ready to stand from under when the lightning struck.
I had just one little glimpse of the old gentleman when he come in, then the bed hid him. Mrs. Phelps she jumps for him and says :
" Has he come ? "
" No," says her husband.
" Good-ness gracious!" she says, " what in the world can have become of him ? "
"I can't imagine," says the old gentleman; "and I must say, it makes me dreadful uneasy."