“Yes,” he whispered.
“As sure as I am that I live.”
“And will love me always?”
“Always,” he answered.
She drew his head down a little and put her lips to his ear. “Then I shall love you always,” she whispered.
Mrs. Vaughn, was waiting for them at the fireside. They sat talking a while.
“You go off to bed, Polly,” said the teacher, presently. “I’ve something to say, and you’re not to hear it.”
“I’ll listen,” said she, laughing.
“Then we’ll whisper,” Trove answered.
“That isn’t fair,” said she, with a look of injury, as she held the candle. “Besides, you don’t allow it yourself.”
“Polly ought to go away to school,” said he, after Polly had gone above stairs. “She’s a bright girl.”
“And I so poor I’m always wondering what’ll happen to-morrow,” said Mrs. Vaughn. “The farm has a mortgage, and it’s more than I can do to pay the interest. Some day I’ll have to give it up.”
“Perhaps I can help you,” said the young man, feeling the fur on his cap.
There was an awkward silence.
“Fact is,” said the young man, a bit embarrassed, “fact is, I love Polly.”
In the silence that followed Trove could hear the tick of his watch.
“Have ye spoken to her?” said the widow, with a serious look.
“I’ve told her frankly to-night that I love her,” said he. “I couldn’t help it, she was so sweet and beautiful.”
“If you couldn’t help it, I don’t see how I could,” said she. “But Polly’s only a child. She’s a big girl, I know, but she’s only eighteen.”
“I haven’t asked her for any promise. It wouldn’t be fair. She must have a chance to meet other young men, but, sometime, I hope she will be my wife.”
“Poor children!” said Mrs. Vaughn, “you don’t either of you know what you’re doing.”
He rose to go.
“I was a little premature,” he added, “but you mustn’t blame me. Put yourself in my place. If you were a young man and loved a girl as sweet as Polly and were walking home with her on a moonlit night—”
“I presume there’d be more or less love-making,” said the widow. “She is a pretty thing and has the way of a woman. We were speaking of you the other day, and she said to me: ’He is ungrateful. You can teach the primer class for him, and be so good that you feel perfectly miserable, and give him lessons in dancing, and put on your best clothes, and make biscuit for him, and then, perhaps, he’ll go out and talk with the hired man.’ ‘Polly,’ said I, ‘you’re getting to be very foolish.’ ‘Well, it comes so easy,’ said she. ‘It’s my one talent’”
At the Theatre of the Woods