“I reckon he does, too!” said Mrs. Livingstone, with a peculiar smile, which nettled ’Lena more than any open attack would have done.
With the exception of his mother, John Jr. was the last to leave the parlor, and when all the rest were gone, Mrs. Livingstone seized her opportunity for telling him what she had heard. Taking a light from the table, he was about retiring, when she said, “I learned some news to-day which a little surprised me.”
“Got it from Mother Atkins, I suppose,” answered John, still advancing toward the door.
“Partly from her, and partly from others,” said his mother, adding, as she saw him touch the door-knob, “It’s about Nellie Douglass.”
This was sufficient to arrest his attention, and turning about, he asked, “What of her?”
“Why, nothing of any great consequence, as I know of,” said Mrs. Livingstone, “only people in Frankfort think she’s going to be married.”
“I think so, too,” was John’s mental reply, while his verbal one was, “Married! To whom?”
“Did you ever hear her speak of Mary Wilbur?”
“Yes, she’s been staying with her ever since Mrs. Graham’s party.”
“Well, Mary it seems has a brother, a rich old bachelor, who they say is very attentive to Nellie. He came home with her from Madison, staying at her father’s the rest of the week, and paying her numberless attentions, which——”
“I don’t believe it,” interrupted John Jr., striking his fist upon the table, to which he had returned.
“Neither did I, at first,” said his mother, “but I heard it in so many places that there must be something in it. And I’m sure it’s a good match. He is rich, and willing, they say, to help her father, who is in danger of failing any moment.”
Without knowing it, John Jr. was a little inclined to be jealous, particularly of those whom he loved very much, and now suddenly remembering to have heard Nellie speak in high terms of Robert Wilbur, he began to feel uneasy, lest what his mother had said were true. She saw her advantage, and followed it up until, in a fit of anger, he rushed from the room and repaired to his own apartment, where for a time he walked backward and forward, chafing like a caged lion, and wishing all manner of evil upon Nellie, if she were indeed false to him.
He was very excitable, and at last worked himself up to such a pitch, that he determined upon starting at once for Frankfort, to demand of Nellie if what he had heard were true! Upon cooler reflection, however, he concluded not to make a “perfect fool of himself,” and plunging into bed, he fell asleep, as what man will not be his trouble what it may.