The Doctor had a kindness for me, and was eager to talk of his doings. He was almost as great a moss-trooper as myself, and, with Elspeth for company, had visited near every settlement in the dominion. Education and Christian privileges were his care, and he deplored the backward state of the land. I remember that even then he was full of his scheme for a Virginian college to be established at Middle Plantation, and he wrote weekly letters to his English friends soliciting countenance and funds. Of the happy issue of these hopes, and the great college which now stands at Williamsburg, there is no need to remind this generation.
But in that hour I thought little of education. The Doctor boomed away in his deep voice, and I gave him heedless answers. My eyes were ever wandering to the slim figure at my side. She wore a broad hat of straw, I remember, and her skirt and kirtle were of green, the fairies’ colour. I think she was wearied with the sun, for she spoke little; but her eyes when they met mine were kind. That day I was not ashamed of my plain clothes or my homely face, for they suited well with the road. My great boots of untanned buckskin were red with dust, I was bronzed like an Indian, and the sun had taken the colour out of my old blue coat. But I smacked of travel and enterprise, which to an honest heart are dearer than brocade. Also I had a notion that my very homeliness revived in her the memories of our common motherland. I had nothing to say, having acquired the woodland habit of silence, and perhaps it was well. My clumsy tongue would have only broken the spell which the sunlit forests had woven around us.
As we reached my house a cavalier rode up with a bow and a splendid sweep of his hat. ’Twas my acquaintance, Mr. Grey, come to greet the travellers. Elspeth gave me her hand at parting, and I had from the cavalier the finest glance of hate and jealousy which ever comforted the heart of a backward lover.
A WORD AT THE HARBOUR-SIDE.
The next Sunday I was fool enough to go to church, for Doctor Blair was announced to preach the sermon. Now I knew very well what treatment I should get, and that it takes a stout fellow to front a conspiracy of scorn. But I had got new courage from my travels, so I put on my best suit of murrey-coloured cloth, my stockings of cherry silk, the gold buckles which had been my father’s, my silk-embroidered waistcoat, freshly-ironed ruffles, and a new hat which had cost forty shillings in London town. I wore my own hair, for I never saw the sense of a wig save for a bald man, but I had it deftly tied. I would have cut a great figure had there not been my bronzed and rugged face to give the lie to my finery.