Verty always stopped for a moment on his way to and from Winchester, to bid the inmates good morning; and these hours had come to be the bright sunny spots in days otherwise full of no little languor. For when was Daymon merry and light-hearted, separated from his love? It is still the bright moment of meeting which swallows up all other thoughts—around which the musing heart clusters all its joy and hope—which is looked forward to and dreamed over, with longing, dreamy, yet excited happiness. And this is the reason why the most fatal blow which the young heart can suffer is a sudden warning that there must be no more meetings. No more! when it dreams of and clings to that thought of meeting, as the life and vital blood of to-morrow!—when the heart is liquid—the eyes moist with tenderness—the warp of thought woven of golden thread—at such a moment for the blow of the wave to fall, and drown the precious argosy with all its freight of love, and hope, and memory—this is the supreme agony of youth, the last and most refined of tortures.
Verty lived in the thought of meeting Redbud—his days were full of her; but the hours he passed at Apple Orchard were the brightest. The noonday culminated at dawn and sunset!
As he approached the pleasant homestead now, his eyes lighted up, and his face beamed with smiles. Redbud was standing in the porch waiting for him.
She was clad with her usual simplicity, and smiled gently as he approached. Verty threw the bundle upon Cloud’s mane, and came to her.
They scarcely interchanged a word, but the hand of the girl was imprisoned in his own; and the tenderness which had been slowly gathering for months into love, pure, and deep, and strong, flushed his ingenuous face, and made his eyes swim in tears.
It was well that Verty was interrupted as he essayed to speak; for we cannot tell what he would have said. He did not speak; for just as he opened his lips, a gruff voice behind him uttered the words:
“Well, sir! where is your business?”
HOW VERTY AND MISS LAVINIA RAN A-TILT AT EACH OTHER, AND WHO WAS OVERTHROWN.
The young man turned round: the gruff voice belonged to Judge Rushton.
That gentleman had left his horse at the outer gate, and approached the house on foot. Absorbed by his own thoughts, Verty had not seen him—as indeed neither had Redbud—and the gruff voice gave the young man the first intimation of his presence.
“Well,” repeated the lawyer, leaning on his knotty stick, and scowling at the two young people from beneath his shaggy eyebrows, “what are you standing there staring at me for? Am I a wild beast, a rhinoceros, or a monster of any description, that you can’t speak? I asked you why you were not in town at your work?”
Verty pointed to the horizon.
“The day has only begun,” he said.