Still I remain stubbornly silent.
“We are not going to fight, at this time of day, such old friends as we are?”
The red-anger light has died out of his eyes. They look softer, and yet less languid, than I have ever seen them before; and there is subdued appeal and entreaty in his lowered voice. At the present moment, I distinctly dislike him. I think him altogether trying and odious, and I should be glad—yes, glad, if Vick were to bite a piece out of his leg; but, at the same time, I cannot deny that I have seldom seen any thing comelier than the young man who now stands before me, with the green woodland lights flickering about the close-shorn beauty of his face—he is well aware that his are not features that need planting out —while a lively emotion quickens all his lazy being.
“We are not old friends! Let me pass!”
“New friends, then—_-friends_ at all events!” coming a step nearer, and speaking without a trace of sneer, sloth, or languor.
“Not friends at all! Let me pass!”
“Not until you tell me my offense—not until you own that we are friends!” (in a tone of quick excitement, and almost of authority, that, in him, is new to me).
“Then we shall stay here all night!” reply I, with a fine obstinacy, plumping down, as I speak, on the wayside grass, among the St. John’s-worts, and the red arum-berries. In a moment he has stepped aside, and is holding the stout purple bramble-stem out of my way.
“Pass, then!” he says, in a tone of impatience, frowning a little; “as you have said it, of course you will stick to it—right or wrong—or you would not be a woman; but, whether you confess it or not, we are friends!”
“We are NOT!” cry I, resolute to have the last word, as I spring up and fly past him, with more speed than dignity, lest he should change his mind, and again detain me.
The swallows are gone: the summer is done: it is October. The year knows that I am in a hurry, and is hasting with its shortened days—each day marked by the loss of something fair—toward the glad Christmas-time— Christmas that will bring me back my Roger—that will set him again at the foot of his table—that will give me again the sound of his foot on the stairs, the smile in his fond gray eyes. So I thought yesterday, and to-day I have heard from him; heard that though he is greatly loath to tell me so, yet he cannot be back by Christmas; that I must hear the joy-bells ring, and see the merry Christmas cheer alone. It is true that he earnestly and insistantly begs of me to gather all my people, father, mother, boys, girls, around me. But, after all, what are father, mother, boys, girls, to me? Father never was any thing, I will do myself that justice, but at this moment of sore disappointment as I lean my forehead on the letter outspread on the table before me, and dim its sentences with tears, I belittle even the boys. No doubt that by-and-by I shall derive a little solace from the thought of their company; that when they come I shall even be inveigled into some sort of hilarity with them; but at present, “No.”