"You don't like him," continued Janet, "and I knew you wouldn't; but your poor mother, I pity her. Didn't you say you was gettin' her something to eat? She's had a good time waitin', but I'll make amends by seein' to her dinner myself," and spite of Maude's endeavors to keep her back she followed on into the disorderly kitchen, from which Nellie had disappeared, and where old Hannah sat smoking her pipe as leisurely as if on the table there were not piles of unwashed dishes, to say nothing of the unswept floor and dirty hearth.
"What a hole!" was Janet's involuntary exclamation, to which Hannah responded a most contemptuous "Umph!" and thus was the war-cry raised on either side. "What was you goin' to git for your mother?" asked Janet, without deigning to notice the portly African, who smoked on in dignified silence.
"Toast and tea," answered Maude, and casting a deprecating glance at the fire Janet continued: "You can't make any toast fit for a heathen to eat by that fire. Aint there any dry wood--kindlin' nor nothin'?" and she walked into the woodshed, where, spying a pine board, she seized the ax and was about to commence operations when Hannah called out: "Ole marster 'll be in yer ha'r if you tache that."
"I aint afraid of your old marster," answered Janet, and in a moment the board, which Dr. Kennedy would not suffer John to use because he might want it for something, was crackling on the fire.
The hearth was swept, the tea-kettle hung in the blaze, and then, with a look of perfect delight, Janet sat down to make the toast, fixing it just as she knew Matty liked it best.
"Biled eggs will be good for her digester, and if I only had one dropped in water," she said, and quick as thought Maude brought her one, while Hannah growled again, "Ole marster 'll raise de ruff, case he put 'em away to sell."
"Ole marster be hanged!" muttered Janet, breaking not one, but three, into the water, for her own stomach began to clamor for food.
Everything was ready at last; a clean towel covered the server, the fragrant black tea was made, the boiled egg was laid upon the toast, and then Janet said, "She ought to have a rellish--preserves, jelly, baked apple, or somethin'," and she opened a cupboard door, while Hannah, springing to her feet, exclaimed, "Quit dat; thar aint no sich truck in dis house."