“Now, don’t you worry, mother,” said Cicely, clasping her arms about the still fair neck, “don’t worry; we will come out all right, mortgage and all.”
Taking fresh courage, the widow again pressed the claims of the portly wooer, but what chance had she against the combined powers of young love and the daughter’s stronger nature.
Time passed. Almost every evening found Hezekiah at the cottage, but though persistent, things did not apparently make much progress. At last the stiffness of the customary interviews seemed to break.
“Mis’ Patridge,” he said, getting very red in the face and awkward as to hands and feet, “Cicely Ann gits worse every day. Ain’t there no chance of her puttin’ up with me at all?”
“Why, yes, I reckon so,” bashfully said the widow. “She’s young and foolish, you know. You can’t expect gals to be sensible and sober down like they will when they get holt of some wise person tha’ll train ’em.”
“Well,” sighed the wooer, “I guess I might as well stop comin’. ’Taint no use to be forever worritin’ after anything. I did think, howsomever, it ’ud be sorter nice to have us four live together. Young folks makes a house kinder lively. But I don’t git on, somehow; so I guess I might as well hang up my fiddle an’ quit.” And the ancient wooer slowly rose to his full height.
“Us four!” repeated the petrified widow, mouth and eyes open to their widest extent.
“Yes—us four,” continued Hezekiah. “I was thinkin’, you know, that bein’ as this young feller Rufus what’s-his-name ’peared to be sweet on the gal, mebbe you’d take to me an’ we’d all git spliced together. But she don’t like me and wouldn’t treat me right. I couldn’t stand fusses an’ the like.”
“La, Mr. Lightus, how you do astonish me,” faintly ejaculated the flushed widow, her comely face crimson to the roots of her soft brown hair.
“You don’t say!” exclaimed the rapidly enlightened Hezekiah, rousing to something like animation. “Did you think—didn’t you know—well, I declare, I don’t actually believe you did. Now ain’t it a puzzle, begad!”
While he jerked out his amazed sentences, his companion, fairly overcome with the revelation that dawned upon her for the first time, buried her face in her hands.
“Mis’ Patridge,” timidly said the agitated wooer, approaching nearer, “you don’t say—that is, do you mean to say that if Cicely Ann could like me well enough to not be sassy around the house, an’ keepin’ you oncomfortable about it, you an’ me could hitch on an’ be pardners? You don’t mean it now, do you?”
“Mean it!” murmured the widow, her fair cheeks aglow with suddenly-stirred enthusiasm. “I’m only too happy, Mr. Lightus, I never thought—”
But at this juncture the rejuvenated wooer ventured to clasp his rough but honest arms about the blushing prize he had won.
At this juncture, also, Cicely and Rufus happened in, but beat a hasty and giggling retreat, as they rapidly took in the situation.