The sisters looked from one to another and gave up to gleeful smiles, but Ruth was, if anything, a bit firmer than before.
“Next day he brought her some flowers, and she began to get better. Then he took her out to ride. One night about ten o’clock the nurse comes into the room sudden like, and finds him on his knees before the widow, kissing her dress an’ talking all kinds o’ nonsense.”
“Here! stop a minute,” said the sister Lize, who had now dropped her knitting and begun to fan herself. “You take my breath away.” The details were too important for hasty consideration.
“Makin’ love?” said she with the beads, thoughtfully.
“I should think likely,” said the other, whereupon the three began to laugh again. Their merriment over, through smiles they gave each other looks of dreamy reflection.
“Now go on,” said the sister Lize, leaning forward, her chin upon her hands.
“There he knelt, kissing her dress,” the narrator continued.
“Why didn’t he kiss her face?”
“Because she wouldn’t let him, I suppose.”
“Oh!” said the others, nodding their heads, thoughtfully.
“When the nurse came,” the sister Serene continued, “the widow went to a desk and wrote a letter and brought it to Dick. Then says the widow, says she: ’You take this to my uncle in Boston. If you can make him give his consent, I’d be glad to see you again.’
“Dick, he rushed off that very evening an’ took the cars at Madrid. What do you suppose the letter said?”
The sister Serene began to shake with laughter.
“What?” was the eager demand of the two sisters.
“Well, the widow told the nurse and she told Mary Jones and Mary told me. The letter was kind o’ short and about like this:—
“’Pardon me for introducing a scamp by the name of Roberts. He’s engaged to a very sweet young lady and has the impudence to make love to me. I wish to get him out of this town for a while, and can’t think of any better way. Don’t use him too roughly. He was a detective once himself.’
“Well, in a couple of days the widow got a telegraph message from her uncle, an’ what do you suppose it said?”
The sister Serene covered her face and began to quiver. The other two were leaning toward her, smiling, their mouths open.
“What was it?” said the sister Lize.
“‘Kicked him downstairs,’” the narrator quoted.
“Y!” the two whispered.
“Good enough for him.” It was the verdict of the little shopkeeper, sharply spoken, as she went on with her work.
“So I say,”—this from the other three, who were now quite serious.
“He’d better not come back here,” said the sister Lize.
“He never will, probably.”
“Who employed the widow?”
“Nobody knows,” said the sister Serene. “Before she left town she had a check cashed, an’ it come from Riley Brooke. Some think Martha Vaughn herself knows all about it. Sh-h-h! there goes Sidney Trove.”