“You want to stop at the preacher’s house?” he asked.
“If you please,” Ophelia replied, “for some little time. There are things to discuss—”
“Would you mind if I drove around to the court-house first?” Old Heck questioned again.
“Not at all,” she answered sweetly.
A few moments later Old Heck stopped the Clagstone “Six” in front of the yellow sandstone county building. Leaving Ophelia in the car with the remark, “I’ll be out in a minute!” he went inside and hurried along the dark corridor that led to the clerk’s office.
A SHAME TO WASTE IT
In Old Heck’s eyes was a set, determined look when he came out of the court-house and stepped up to the Clagstone “Six” in which he had left Ophelia a few moments before. The end of a long yellow envelope protruded from the side pocket of his coat. His face was flushed and his hand trembled slightly as he opened the door of the car and climbed into the front seat beside the widow. He pressed his foot on the “starter,” threw the clutch into gear and turning the car about drove slowly toward the home of Reverend Hector R. Patterson, Eagle Butte’s only resident clergyman.
He did not speak until the car stopped at the gate of the little unpainted parsonage beside the white, weather-boarded church.
“Wait a minute,” he said as Ophelia started to get out of the Clagstone “Six,” “maybe I’ll go in with you!”
“Splendid,” the widow replied, settling again against the cushions. “I’d be delighted to have you come along and I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Patterson would be glad to see you!”
“Well, it—it”—Old Heck stammered, not knowing how to begin what he wanted to say—“it—it all depends on you! Here”—he said abruptly as a bright thought came to him—“read that and—and—tell me what you think about it!” at the same time pulling the yellow envelope from his pocket and handing it to Ophelia.
With a questioning lift of her eyebrows the widow drew the folded, official-looking document from the envelope.
“Why, it’s a—it’s a—” she started to say and stopped confused, her cheeks blazing crimson.
“It’s a marriage license—” Old Heck said, coming to her rescue, “—made out for you and me. I—I—didn’t know what to tell the clerk when he asked me how old you was—so I just guessed at it!”
The widow looked shyly down at the names written on the document.
The license granted “Ophelia Cobb, age twenty-three, of Hartville, Connecticut, and Josiah Alonzo Heck, age forty-eight, of Kiowa County, Texas,” the right to marry.
Ophelia’s actual years were thirty-nine!
From under drooping lashes she glanced up suspiciously into the earnest gray eyes beside her. She saw that Old Heck had been sincere in his “guess.”