The schoolma'am continued inexorably; plainly,
brain was not paralyzed. "I've promised the neighborhoodthat I would give a Christmas tree and entertainment--and when a school-teacher promises anything to aneighborhood, nothing short of death or smallpox will be accepted as an excuse for failing to keep the promise;and I've seven tongue-tied kids to work with!" (The schoolma'am was only spasmodically given toirreproachable English.) "Of course, I relied upon my friends to help me out. But when I come to calling theroll, I--I don't seem to
any friends." The schoolma'am was twirling the Montana sapphire ring whichWeary had given her last spring, and her voice was trembly and made Happy Jack feel vaguely that he was alow-down cur and ought to be killed.He swallowed twice. "Aw, yuh don't want to go and feel bad about it; I never meant--I'll do anything yuh ask me to.""Thank you. I knew I could count upon you, Jack."The schoolma'am recovered her spirits with a promptness that was suspicious; patted his arm and called him anawfully good fellow, which reduced Happy Jack to a state just this side imbecility. Also, she drew a littlememorandum book from somewhere, and wrote Happy Jack's name in clear, convincing characters that madehim shiver. He saw other names above his own on the page; quite a lot of them; seven in fact. Miss Satterly,evidently, was not quite as destitute of friends as her voice, awhile back, would lead one to believe. Happy Jack wondered."I haven't quite decided what we will have," she remarked briskly. "When I do, we'll all meet some evening inthe school-house and talk it over. There's lots of fun getting up an entertainment; you'll like it, once you getstarted."Happy did not agree with her, but he did not tell her so; he managed to contort his face into somethingresembling a grin, and retreated to the hotel, where he swallowed two glasses of whiskey to start his bloodmoving again, and then sat down and played poker disasterously until daylight made the lamps grow a sicklyyellow and the air of the room seem suddenly stale and dead. But Happy never thought of blaming theschoolma'am for the eighteen dollars he lost. Neither did he blame her for the nightmares which tormented his sleep during the week that followed or thevague uneasiness that filled his waking hour, even when he was not thinking directly of the ghost that doggedhim. For wherever he went, or whatever he did, Happy Jack was conscious of the fact that his name was downon the schoolma'am's list and he was definitely committed to do anything she asked him to do, even to"speaking a piece"--which was in his eyes the acme of mental torture.When Cal Emmett, probably thinking of Miss Satterly's little book, pensively warbled in his ear:
Is your name written there,On the page white and fair?
Happy Jack made no reply, though he suddenly felt chilly along the spinal column. It was."Schoolma'am wants us all to go over to the schoolhouse tonight--seven-thirty, sharp--to help make medicineover this Santa Claus round-up. Slim, she says you've got to be Santy and come down the stovepipe and givethe kids fits and popcorn strung on a string. She says you've got the figure." Weary splashed into the wash basinlike a startled muskrat.The Happy Family looked at one another distressfully.