“That sounds more like eighty than eighteen.”
“Elizabeth, it is the greatest mistake in the world, I mean just that, to keep back all your wisdom until you get to be eighty. What use will it be to you then? All you can do with it will be to see how much more sensibly you might have acted. That’s what will happen to you, my dear, if you don’t look out. But at eighteen—I am nineteen—everything is before you, and you want to know how to guide your life to get all the best things you can out of it without being wickedly selfish—at least I do. Your aspirations, I suppose, are fixed upon the forests and the Indian, and problems concerning the future of the American Colonies. But I’m more reverent than you, I think the Lord is able to take care of those.”
Elizabeth looked vaguely troubled by the fallacy which she felt in this speech without being quite willing or able to bring it to light.
“But, remember, I was twenty-one my last birthday,” she answered. “I ought to take a broader view of things.”
“On the contrary, you’re getting to be an old maid. You should consider which of your suitors you want, and say ‘yes’ to him on the spot. By the way, what has become of your friend, the handsome Master Edmonson?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “Father has heard from him since he went away, so I suppose that he is well.”
“And he has not written to you?”
“No, he has only sent a message.” Then, after a pause, “He said that he was coming back in the autumn.”
“I hope so,” cried Katie, “he is a most fascinating man, and of such family! Stephen was speaking of him the other day. He was very attentive, was he not, Betsey?”
“Ye-es, I suppose so. But there was something that I fancied papa did not like.”
“I’m so sorry,” cried Katie. She rose, and crossing the little space between herself and her friend, dropped upon the footstool at Elizabeth’s feet, and laying her arms in the girl’s lap and resting her chin upon them, looked up and added, “Tell me all about it, my dear.”
“There is nothing to tell,” answered Elizabeth, caressing the beautiful hair and looking into the eyes that had tears of sympathy in them.
“I was afraid something had gone wrong, afraid that you would care.”
Elizabeth sat thinking.
“I don’t know,” she said slowly at last, “I don’t know whether I should really care or not if I never saw him again.”
Her companion looked at her a moment in silence, and when she began to speak it was about something else.
GIRDING ON THE HARNESS.
Later that same morning a gentleman calling upon Mistress Katie Archdale was told that he would find her with friends in the garden. Walking through the paths with a leisurely step which the impatience of his mood chafed against, he came upon a picture that he never forgot.