“It’s your move,” said she, smiling as her glance fell.
He moved all the checkers.
There came a breath of silence, and a great surge of happiness that washed every checker off the board, and left the two with flushed faces. Then, as Mrs. Vaughn was coming downstairs, the checkers began to rattle into position.
“I won,” said he, as the door opened.
“But he didn’t play fair,” said Folly.
“Children, I’m afraid you’re playing more love than checkers,” said the widow. “You’re both too young to think of marriage.”
Those two looked thoughtfully at the checkerboard, Polly’s chin resting on her hand. She had begun to smile.
“I’m sure Mr. Trove has no such thought in his head,” said she, still looking at the board.
“You’re mother is right; we’re both very young,” said Trove.
“I believe you’re afraid of her,” said Polly, looking up at him with a smile.
“I’m only thinking of your welfare,” said Mrs. Vaughn, gently. “Young love should be stored away, and if it keeps, why, then it’s all right.”
“Like preserves!” said Polly, soberly, as if she were not able to see the point.
Against the protest of Polly and her mother, Trove went to sleep in the sugar shanty, a quarter of a mile or so back in the woods. On his first trip with the drove he had developed fondness for sleeping out of doors. The shanty was a rude structure of logs, with an open front. Tunk went ahead, bearing a pine torch, while Trove followed, the blanket over his shoulder. They built a roaring fire in front of the shanty and sat down to talk.
“How have you been?” Trove inquired.
“Like t’ killed me there at the ol’ maids’.”
“Were they rough with you?”
“No,” said Tunk, gloomily.
“Kicked?” was Trove’s query.
“Lord! I should think so. Feel there.”
Trove felt the same old protuberance on Tunk’s leg.
“Swatted me right in the knee-pan. Put both feet on my chest, too. Lord! I’d be coughin’ up blood all the while if I wa’n’t careful.”
“And why did you leave?”
“Served me a mean trick,” said Tunk, frowning. “Letishey went away t’ the village t’ have a tooth drawed, an’ t’other one locked me up all day in the garret chamber. Toward night I crawled out o’ the window an’ clim’ down the lightnin’ rod. An’ she screamed for help an’ run t’ the neighbours. Scairt me half t’ death. Heavens! I didn’t know what I’d done!”
“Did you come down fast?” Trove inquired.
“Purty middlin’ fast.”
“Well, a man never ought to travel on a lightning rod.”
Tunk sat in sober silence a moment, as if he thought it no proper time for levity.
“I made up my mind,” said he, with an injured look, “it wa’n’t goin’ t’ do my character no good t’ live there with them ol’ maids.”