“We are often prophets to others only because we are our own historians.”—Madame Swetchine.
The evening before Marjorie started for New York she was sitting alone in her father’s arm chair before the sitting-room fire. Her mother had left her to go up to Mrs. Kemlo’s chamber for her usual evening chat. Mrs. Kemlo was not strong this winter, and on very cold days did not venture down-stairs to the sitting-room. Marjorie, her mother, and the young farmer who had charge of the farm, were often the only ones at the table, and the only occupants of the sitting-room during the long winter evenings. Marjorie sighed for Linnet, or she would have sighed for her, if she had been selfish; she remembered the evenings of studying with Morris, and the master’s tread as he walked up and down and talked to her father.
Now she was alone in the dim light of two tallow candles. It was so cold that the small wood stove did not sufficiently heat the room, and she had wrapped the shawl about her that Linnet used to wear to school when Mr. Holmes taught. She hid herself in it, gathering her feet up under the skirt of her dress, in a position very comfortable and lazy, and very undignified for a maiden who would be twenty-five on her next birthday.
The last letter from Hollis had stated that he was seeking a position in the city. He thought he understood his business fairly, and the outlook was not discouraging. He had a little money well invested; his life was simple; and, beyond the having nothing to do, he was not anxious. He had thought of farming as a last resort; but there was rather a wide difference between tossing over laces and following the plow.
“Not that I dread hard work, but I do not love the solitude of country life. ‘A wise man is never less alone than when he is alone,’ Swift writes; but I am not a wise man, nor a wild beast. I love men and the homes of men, the business of men, the opportunities that I find among men.”
She had not replied to this letter; what a talk they would have over it! She had learned Hollis; she knew him by heart; she could talk to him now almost as easily as she could write. These years of writing had been a great deal to both of them. They had educated each other.
The last time Mrs. West had seen Hollis she had wondered how she had ever dared speak to him as she had spoken that morning in the kitchen. Had she effected anything? She was not sure that they were engaged; she had “talked it over” with his mother, and that mother was equally in the dark.
“I know what his intentions are,” confided Marjorie’s mother “I know he means to have her, for he told me so.”
“He has never told me so,” said Hollis’ mother.
“You haven’t asked him,” suggested Mrs. West comfortably.