A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 8

"Laddie," said the Piper to the yellow mongrel, "we'll be having breakfast now."

The dog answered with a joyous yelp. "You talk too much," observed his master, in affectionate reproof; "'t is fitting that small yellow dogs should be seen and not heard."

It was scarcely sunrise, but the Piper's day began--and ended--early. He had a roaring fire in the tiny stove which warmed his shop, and the tea-kettle hummed cheerily. All about him was the atmosphere of immaculate neatness. It was not merely the lack of dust and dirt, but a positive cleanliness.

His beardless face was youthful, but the Piper's hair was tinged with grey at the temples. One judged him to be well past forty, yet fully to have retained his youth. His round, rosy mouth was puckered in a whistle as he moved about the shop and spread the tiny table with a clean cloth.

Ranged about him in orderly rows was his merchandise. Tom Barnaby never bothered with fixtures and showcases. Chairs, drygoods boxes, rough shelves of his own making, and a few baskets sufficed him.

In the waterproof pedler's pack which he carried on his back when his shop was in transit, he had only the smaller articles which women continually need. Calico, mosquito netting, buttons, needles, thread, tape, ribbons, stationery, hooks and eyes, elastic, shoe laces, sewing silk, darning cotton, pins, skirt binding, and a few small frivolities in the way of neckwear, veils, and belts--these formed Piper Tom's stock in trade. By dint of close packing, he wedged an astonishing number of things into a small space, and was not too heavily laden when, with his dog and his flute, he set forth upon the highway to establish his shop in the next place that seemed promising.

"All unknowing, Laddie," he said to the dog, as he sat down to his simple breakfast, "we've come into competition with a woman who keeps a shop like ours, which we didn't mean to do. It's for this that we were making a new set of price tags all day of yesterday, which happened to be the Sabbath. It wouldn't be becoming of us to charge less than she and take her trade away from her, so we've started out on an even basis.

"Poor lady," laughed the Piper, "she was not willing for us to know her prices, thinking we were going to sell cheaper than she. 'T is a hard world for women, Laddie. I'm thinking 'tis no wonder they grow suspicious at times."

The dog sat patiently till Piper Tom finished his breakfast, well knowing that a generous share would be given him outside. While the dog ate, his master put the shop into the most perfect order, removing every particle of dust, and whistling meanwhile.

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