“Father!” laughed the daughter, “isn’t this rather youngish?” But she laid her hand promptly upon Arthur’s, and the lines of the General’s face deepened playfully, and Mrs. Morris’s dimple did the same, as Godfrey thrust his hand in upon Ruth’s, unasked. The matron laughed very tenderly on the key of O while she added her hand, and received Leonard’s heavy palm above it. Then Arthur clapped a second hand upon Leonard’s, and Leonard was about to lay a second quietly upon Arthur’s, when Isabel, rose-red from brow to throat, gayly broke the heap and embraced Ruth.
“Well, honey-girlie,” said Mrs. Morris, as she and Isabel reentered their cottage, “wasn’t it sweet of them all, that ‘laying on of hands,’ as Arthur called it?”
“Yes,” replied the Southern girl, starting up the cramped old New England stairway to her room. “It was child’s play, but it was very sweet of them, and especially of the General.”
The mother detained her fondly. “And still, my child, you’re not satisfied?”
“Ah, mother, are you blind, stone blind, or do you only hope I am?”
“Why, mother, excepting Leonard, we haven’t had one word of true consent from one of them.”
“Oh, now, Isabel! They’ll all be glad enough by and by.”
“Yes,” said the daughter, from the landing above, “I’ve no doubt of that.”
She passed into her room, closed the door, and standing in the middle of the floor, with her temples in her palms, said, “O merciful God! Oh, Leonard Byington, if only that second hand of yours had hung back!”
SKY AND POOL
Arthur and Isabel were married in their own little church of All Angels, at the far end of the old street.
“I cal’late,” said a rustic member of his vestry, “th’ never was as pretty a weddin’ so simple, nor as simple a weddin’ so pretty!”
Because he said it to Leonard Byington he ended with a manly laugh, for by the anxious glance of his spectacled daughter he knew he had slipped somewhere in his English. But when he heard Leonard and Ruth, in greeting the bride’s mother, jointly repeat the sentiment as their own, he was, for a moment, nearly as happy as Mrs. Morris.
“Such a pity Godfrey had to be away!” said Mrs. Morris. It was the only pity she chose to emphasize.
Godfrey was on distant seas. The north-bound mid-afternoon express bore away the bridal pair for a week’s absence.
“Too short,” said a friend or so whom Leonard fell in with as he came from the railway station, and Leonard admitted that Arthur was badly in need of rest.
At sunset Ruth came out of her gate and stood to welcome her brother’s tardy return. Both brightly smiled; neither spoke.
When he gave her a letter with a foreign stamp her face lighted gratefully, but still without words she put it under her belt. Then they joined hands, and he asked, “Where’s father?”