Hezekiah picked up the widow’s daily paper which, by the way, he largely depended on for the news. Silence reigned for a while, save for the rustle of the sheet. The click-clack of the widow’s knitting needles, and the rapid plying of Cicely’s brush, were varied at last by the girl surreptitiously pulling a note out of her jaunty apron pocket.
As she read it a smile broke over the dimpled features, and in a moment more she pushed the table from her and left the room. Swiftly she sped to the big apple tree where her trystings were held with Rufus, her playmate and lover.
Hezekiah slowly raised his head, and laying down the paper, said thoughtfully: “’Pears like the gal gits skittisher every day. Do you reckon she’ll ever come to like me?”
“Why, I dunno why she wouldn’t,” ventured the widow with an encouraging smirk.
“Well, she don’t seem to, no way.” Then looking suspiciously through the window. “Where’s she gone to?”
“Oh, nowheres I reckon,” said the mother soothingly, “nowheres in partic’ler. She’s allers around.”
Another silence, during which the visitor carefully noted the land, stock and crop items in the paper, then took his leave. But not till he had cast a lingering look behind and said: “This is about the comfortablest place a feller could drop into, in my opinion.”
It was some minutes after when the truant Cicely re-entered the little keeping-room, her cheeks and eyes bright with happiness.
“Oh, mother, wish me joy! Rufus has asked me to be his wife.”
“Mercy on us, Cicely!” exclaimed the widow in a sort of terror, “and you want to marry him?”
“Of course I do,” proudly said the girl; “and I mean to marry him.”
“Oh, Cicely, my child! and what will Mr. Lightus do—him that’s been comin’ here so patient, off an’ on?”
“Mr. Lighthouse!” disdainfully echoed the girl. “Do you suppose I would have that old goose—old enough to be my grandfather!”
“Old goose! Fie, Cicely, to talk so disrespectful of your pa’s best friend. He’s well-to-do an’ has got the finest place in the county. Think how nice we’d be fixed, child. We’d never have to work no more,” and the widow sighed as the girl looked into her face for the congratulations she expected in vain.
“Well, mother, I can’t help it. I am willing to work and so is Rufus. He is as industrious and steady as the day is long. I shouldn’t mind having Mr. Lighthouse for an uncle, but husband—pshaw!” and the pretty features screwed themselves into a comical grimace.
“Child, child, I’m disappointed and no mistake. Here’s that man’s been a comin’ here all these weeks, an’ while he ain’t asked for you, it’s clear he wants you. An’ now I’ve got to tell him you won’t have him. There’s that moggidge on the house, too. But that’s allers the way—troubles don’t never come single,” and the sigh became a whimper.