All’s well that ends well. Hezekiah Lighthouse married the Widow Partridge, and set young Rufus up in business. As a father the spirited Cicely yielded him the respect and affection he deserved.
She made but one stipulation. On the marriage morn she whispered the earnest entreaty: “Mother, don’t let him call me Cicely Ann!”
“Heighho!” yawned Carroll Hamilton, picking up his long legs from the grass, “this is not making hay while the sun shines,” and he proceeded leisurely to place a camp stool in position, erect an easel, and spread out sketching materials.
A few bold, rapid strokes transferred a pretty bit of rural landscape to the canvas, and this much gained, the amateur artist lit a fine Havana and lazily drifted off again into reverie. His thoughts were not of a pleasant nature. Why couldn’t a man do as he liked in this world? Here the particular man in his mind—to-wit his own agreeable self, had devoted his twenty-four years to acquiring sundry dazzling accomplishments, zonly to have his interest in life dampened by a matrimonial scheme, hatched long ago in the fertile brains of his own parents and the parents of his prospective dulcinea in conspiracy.
Yes, a regular wet blanket had awaited his return from Italia’s classic shores. What an insufferable bore to be pledged, promised, all but tied to an unknown female whose only merit, he wilfully wagered, lay in her invincible ground rents.
“Why, my son,” his doting mother said, “think of it—two hundred thousand dollars in her own right, and all yours for the asking.”
He did think of it; and he vowed in his own mind to do something—anything; run away, commit suicide, before he would join himself for life to any girl he had never seen, especially old Thornton’s daughter, who seemed so willing to jump at him. Not he. In vain they urged him to cultivate the fair damsel. Not till he had braced his nerves with country air, he said. This tonic secured, he graciously consented to be introduced, but would reserve the ratification of the wedding treaty till later.
What’s the use in having fathers and mothers, anyhow? They only plague the life out of one. They don’t ever think of letting a fellow alone once in a while. They—
What other heinousness they would be guilty of would never be shaped into thought, for at this moment down came a dainty little slipper, with a dainty little rosette, from the tree above, plump on to his sketch, and a violent start and a glance upward revealed a bewildering little pink-stockinged foot, which was the daintiest of all.
The abrupt spring to his feet brought down the camp stool, cigar, easel and all, but not the foot, for the rest of the apparition was caught and hidden by the clustering young shoots of the apple tree.