Page:Betty Gordon in Washington.djvu/210

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I've heard my father say so. Don't you care, Bob, Daddy will find a way to beat this horrid old man."

An unpleasant smile spread over the mean, shriveled face.

"Is that so?" queried Joseph Peabody. "Well, I don't know who you are, Miss, but you need a lesson on how to keep a civil tongue in your head. All the fine friends Mister Bob has picked up in Washington won't stand by him long when they find out he's a poorhouse rat and a runaway at that. There'll be some explaining for you to do before the almshouse authorities are satisfied, young man."

Betty's anger flamed as the familiar odious phrase fell from the farmer's lips, and added to her anger was the crystallized fear that had been haunting her for weeks. She did not know whether Bob could really be returned to the poorhouse or whether it was another trick of Peabody's, but she feared the worst and dreaded it.

"You try to return Bob to the poorhouse!" she cried, her cheeks blazing, her hands clenched. She took a step toward Peabody and he fell back, dragging Bob with him so that a chair stood between them and the furious girl. "You try to return Bob to the poorhouse, and I'll tell every one what I know about that deed," flared Betty. "I know all about the Warren lots and the kind