Marion," I implored, "wait till we get him into the house—he'll rouse the neighborhood." I should have known better than to protest. of duty nothing short of a disastrous collision would stop her. She did pause, but merely to  that led to a sharp altercation. We forgot our rule never to give way to our angry passions before Paul; indeed, he was so unusually silent that we didn't remember his presence until we were suddenly struck dumb by a shrill exclamation of impatient wrath that arose from the other side of the well . "Dar-r-n it!" he ejaculated, with petrifying distinctness.

If he had turned into a quick-firing gun and dropped a shell at our feet the effect could not have been more paralyzing. Our boy had been carefully screened, not only from evil, but from vulgarity; he had never gone to Sunday school, nor been left to the care of a nursemaid. His companions were his toys and domestic pets; other children he had seen only from a distance, and he[Pg 241] regarded them as curious, but not interesting, little animals. His face reflected the purity of his mind. I hesitate to say so, for obvious reasons, but his face at the age of seven was simply angelic; I mean, of course, normally, not when his mouth was wide open in the act of expressing bodily or mental anguish. And this is not merely his mother's opinion and mine; it is Aunt Sophy's also.

Indeed, Aunt Sophy, who is never tired of drawing attention to his remarkable resemblance to a photograph of me as a boy, has gone much farther, and has given utterance to thoughts that we only think . Therefore, we turned to each other in dumb amazement; then I raised the lantern to make sure that it really was Paul who had spoken. He was getting up from his crouching position and the light showed that his little mouth was tightly set and that his wide-open eyes sparkled like stars.

Even as we stared at him his lips parted again, and again he said: "Dar-r-r-n it!" I am thankful that the well was partially covered and that I was able to keep Marion[Pg 242] from sliding into it. "Paul!" she cried in horror, "oh, Paul!" I hastened to follow her lead. "Paul," I said, with fierce sternness, "what do you mean, sir ?" "I mean," he replied accusingly, "that it's all spoiled. They've taken fright at your squabbling and put out their lamps." Again we stared at each other in questioning silence. What had taken fright we knew not, but we did know that we had squabbled. "Where did you hear that dreadful word?" demanded Marion.