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Chapter 9. THE WORM TURNS
Two very superior bicycles went twinkling up the road to Plumfield one September afternoon, bearing two brown and dusty riders evidently returning from a successful run, for though their legs might be a trifle weary, their faces beamed as they surveyed the world from their lofty perches with the air of calm content all wheelmen wear after they have learned to ride; before that happy period anguish of mind and body is the chief expression of the manly countenance.
'Go ahead and report, Tom; I'm due here. See you later,' said Demi, swinging himself down at the door of the Dovecote.
'Don't peach, there's a good fellow. Let me have it out with Mother Bhaer first,' returned Tom, wheeling in at the gate with a heavy sigh.
Demi laughed, and his comrade went slowly up the avenue, devoutly hoping that the coast was clear; for he was the bearer of tidings which would, he thought, convulse the entire family with astonishment and dismay.
To his great joy Mrs Jo was discovered alone in a grove of proof-sheets, which she dropped, to greet the returning wanderer cordially. But after the first glance she saw that something was the matter, recent events having made her unusually sharp-eyed and suspicious.
'What is it now, Tom?' she asked, as he subsided into an easy-chair with a curious expression of mingled fear, shame, amusement, and distress in his brick-red countenance.
'I'm in an awful scrape, ma'am.'
'Of course; I'm always prepared for scrapes when you appear. What is it? Run over some old lady who is going to law about it?' asked Mrs Jo cheerfully.
'Worse than that,' groaned Tom.
'Not poisoned some trusting soul who asked you to prescribe, I hope?'
'Worse than that.'
'You haven't let Demi catch any horrid thing and left him behind, have you?'
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