At the same moment the Squire came out with Mr. Rushton, and called to Redbud. The young girl ran to him.
“Would you like a ride, little one?” said the Squire, “Miss Lavinia and myself are going to town.”
“Oh, yes, sir!”
“But your visitors—”
“Fanny says she cannot stay.”
Fanny ran up to speak for herself; and while Redbud hastened to her room to prepare for the ride, this young lady commenced a triangular duel with the Squire and Mr. Ralph, which caused a grim smile to light upon Mr. Rushton’s face, for an instant, so to speak.
The carriage then drove up with its old greys, and Miss Lavinia and Redbud entered. Before rode the Squire and Mr. Rushton; behind, Ralph and Fanny.
As for Verty, he kept by the carriage, and talked
with Redbud and Miss
Lavinia, who seemed to have grown very good-humored and friendly.
Redbud had not ridden out since her return to Apple Orchard, and the fresh, beautiful day made her cheeks bright and her eyes brilliant. The grass, the trees, the singing birds, and merry breezes, spoke to her in their clear, happy voices, and her eye dwelt fondly on every object, so old, and familiar, and dear.
Is it wonderful that not seldom her glance encountered Verty’s, and they exchanged smiles? His face was the face of her boy playmate—it was very old and familiar; who can say that it was not more—that it was not dear?
And so they passed the old gate, with all its apple trees, and the spot where the great tree stood, through whose heart was bored the aperture for the cider press beam—and through the slope beyond, leaving the overseer’s house, babies and all, behind, and issued forth into the highway leading to the ancient borough of Winchester.
And gazing on the happy autumn fields, our little heroine smiled brightly, and felt very thankful in her heart to Him who dowered her life with all that beauty, and joy, and happiness; and ever and anon her hand would be raised absently toward her neck, where it played with the old coral necklace taken from the drawer in which it had been laid—by accident, we should say, if there were any accident. And so they approached the town.
THE HOUR AND THE NECKLACE.
As they entered the town, something strange seemed to be going on; the place was evidently in commotion. A great thrill seemed to run through the population, who were gathered at the doors and windows—such of them as did not throng the streets; and as the hoofs of the horses struck upon the beaten way, a drum suddenly was heard thundering indignantly through the narrow streets.
The crowd rushed toward it—hurried, muttering, armed with nondescript weapons, as though the Indians were come down from the mountain fastnesses once more; and then, as the cortege from Apple Orchard passed beyond the old fort, the meaning of all the commotion was visible.