Frank Van Buren would probably have kissed her as she lay there sleeping so quietly; but Richard was in a great hurry. He had plunged at once into business. Once there were forty men waiting to see and consult “the Squire,” whose reputation for honesty and ability was very great, and whose simple assertion carried more weight than the roundest oath of some lawyers, sworn upon the biggest Bible in Olney. Waylaid at every corner, and plied with numberless questions, he had hardly found an opportunity to come home to dinner, and now he had no time to waste in love-making. He saw Ethelyn, however, and felt that his room had never been as pleasant as it was with her there in it, albeit her coming was the cause of his books and papers being disturbed and tossed about and moved where he had much trouble to find them. He felt glad, too, that she was out of his mother’s way, and feeling that all was well, he found his papers and hurried off to the village again, while Ethelyn slept on till Eunice Plympton came up to say that “Miss Jones and Melinda were both in the parlor and wanted her to come down.”
CALLS AND VISITING
Mrs. Jones had risen earlier than usual that Monday morning, and felt not a little elated when she saw her long line of snowy linen swinging in the wind before that of her neighbor, whom she excused on the score of Richard’s wife. But when twelve o’clock, and even one o’clock struck, and still the back yard gave no sign, she began to wonder “if any of ’em could be sick”; and never was flag of truce watched for more anxiously than she watched for something which should tell that it was all well at Sister Markham’s.
The sign appeared at last, and with her fears quieted, Mrs. Jones pursued the even tenor of her way until everything was done and her little kitchen was as shining as soap and sand and scrubbing brush could make it. Perhaps it was washing the patchwork quilt which Abigail had pieced that brought the deceased so strongly to Mrs. Jones’ mind, and made her so curious to see Abigail’s successor. Whatever it was, Mrs. Jones was very anxious for a sight of Ethelyn; and when her work was done she donned her alpaca dress, and tying on her black silk apron, announced her intention of “running into Mrs. Markham’s just a minute. Would Melinda like to go along?”
Melinda had been once to no purpose, and she had inwardly resolved to wait a while before calling again; but she felt that she would rather be with her mother at her first interview with Ethelyn, for she knew she could cover up some defects by her glibber and more correct manner of conversing. So she signified her assent, but did not wear her best bonnet as she had on Saturday night. This was only a run in, she said, never dreaming that, “for fear of what might happen if she was urged to stay to tea,” her mother had deposited in her capacious pocket the shirt-sleeve of unbleached cotton she was making for Tim.