Lawrence thanked her, and assured her he would be very glad to have a chance, although he hoped, without much ground for it, that Roberta would not see through the old lady’s schemes.
Mrs Keswick lotioned and rebandaged the sprained ankle, and then she said. “I think it would be pleasant if we were all to come out here after supper, and have a game of whist. I used to play whist, and shouldn’t mind taking a hand. You could have the table drawn up to your chair, and,—let me see—yes, there are three more chairs. It won’t be like having her alone with you,” she said, with the cordial grin in which she sometimes indulged, “but you will have her opposite to you for an hour, and that will be something.”
Lawrence approved heartily of the whist party, and assured Mrs Keswick that she was his guardian angel.
“Not much of that,” she said, “but I have been told often enough that I’m a regular old matchmaker, and I expect I am.”
“If you make this match,” said Lawrence, “you will have my eternal gratitude.”
The supper sent out to Lawrence was a very good one, and the anticipation of what was to follow made him enjoy it still more, for his passion had now reached such a point that even to look at his love, although he could only speak to her of trumps and of tricks, would be a refreshing solace which would go down deep into his thirsty soul.
But bedtime and old Isham came, and the whist players came not. It needed no one to tell Lawrence whose disinclination it was that had prevented their coming.
“I reckon,” said Uncle Isham, as he looked in at Letty’s cabin on his way to his own, “dat dat ar Mister Crof’ aint much use to gittin’ hisse’f hurt. All de time I was helpin’ him to go to bed he was a growlin’ like de bery debbil.”
Although October in Southern Virginia can generally be counted upon as a very charming month, it must not be expected that her face will wear one continuous smile. On the day after Lawrence Croft’s misadventure the sky was gray with low-hanging clouds, there was a disagreeable wind from the north-east, and the air was filled with the slight drizzle of rain. The morning was so cool that Lawrence was obliged to keep his door shut, and Uncle Isham had made him a small wood fire on the hearth. As he sat before this fire, after breakfast, his foot still upon a stool, and vigorously puffed at a cigar, he said to himself that it mattered very little to him whether the sun shone, or all the rains of heaven descended, so long as Roberta March would not come out to him; and that she did not intend to come, rain or shine, was just as plain as the marks on the sides of the fireplace, probably made by the heels of Mr Junius Keswick during many a long, reflective smoke.