Ralph laughed, and said:
“You meant to say, my dear child, that the lady in question tried to make a quarrel between people who loved each other—not simply ’were friends’. For you know she tried to make us dislike one another.”
Fanny received this insinuating speech with one of heir expressive “hums!”
“Don’t you?” said Ralph.
“Very well; it was not necessary to tell me, and, of course, that pretty curl of the lip is only to keep up appearances. But come now, darling of my heart, and light of my existence! as we hav’nt quarreled, in spite of Miss Sallianna, and still have for each other the most enthusiastic affection, be good enough to forget these things, and turn your attention to material affairs. You promised me a lunch!”
“Yes—and I am getting hungry.”
“When did I promise?”
“You remember; very well. It was to be eaten, you will recollect, on the hill, yonder, to the west, to which our steps were to tend.”
“Our picnic! Oh, yes! My goodness gracious! how could I forget it! Come on, Reddie—come and help me to persuade Mrs. Scowley to undo the preserve-jar.”
“May I go!” said Verty.
“Certainly, sir; you are not at liberty to refuse. Who would talk with Reddie!”
“I don’t think—” murmured Redbud, hesitating.
“Now!” cried Fanny, “did anybody ever!”
“Ever what!” said Verty.
“Ever see anybody like this Miss Redbud!”
“I don’t think they ever did,” replied Verty, smiling.
Which reply caused Miss Fanny and Mr. Ralph to laugh, and Redbud to color slightly; but this soon passed, and the simple, sincere look came back to her tender face.
Redbud could not resist the glowing picture which Fanny drew of the picnic to be; and, with some misgiving, yielded. In a quarter of an hour the young men and the young girls were on their way to the beautiful eminence, swinging the baskets which contained the commissariat stores, and laughing gleefully.
HOW LONGEARS SHOWED HIS GALLANTRY IN FANNY’S SERVICE.
It was one of those magnificent days of Fall, which dower the world with such a wealth of golden splendor everywhere—but principally in the mountains.
The trees rose like mighty monarchs, clad in royal robes of blue and yellow, emerald and gold, and crimson; the forest kings and little princely alders, ashes and red dogwoods, all were in their glory. Chiefly the emperor tulip-tree, however, shook to the air its noble vestments, and lit up all the hill-side with its beauty. The streams ran merrily in the rich light—the oriole swayed upon the gorgeous boughs and sang away his soul—over all drooped the diaphanous haze of October, like an enchanting dream.