“About a husband for you,” answered Stonie in the reluctant voice that a man usually uses when circumstances force him into taking a woman into his business confidence. “Looked to me like everybody here was a-going to marry everybody else and leave you out, so I asked him to get you one up in New York and I’d pay him for doing it. He’s a-going to bring him here on the cars his own self lest he get away before I get him.” And the picture that rose in Rose Mary’s mind, of the reluctant husband being dragged to her at the end of a tether by Everett, cut off the sob instantly.
“What—what did you—he say when you asked him about—getting the husband—for you—for me?” asked Rose Mary in a perfect agony of mirth and embarrassment.
“Let me see,” said Stonie, and he paused as he tried to repeat Everett’s exact words, which had been spoken in a manner that had impressed them on the General at the time. “He said that you wasn’t a-going to have no husband but the best kind if he had to kill him—no, he said that if he was to have to go dead hisself he would come and bring him to me, when he got him good enough for you by doing right and such.”
“Was that all?” asked Rose Mary with a gurgle that was well nigh ecstatic, for through her had shot a quiver of hope that set every pulse in her body beating hot and strong, while her cheeks burned in the cool linen of her pillow and her eyes fairly glowed into the night.
“About all,” answered the General, beginning to yawn with the interrupted slumber. “I told him your children would have to mind me and Tobe when we spoke to ’em. He kinder choked then and said all right. Then we bear-hugged for keeps until he comes again. I’m sleepy now!”
“Oh, Stonie, darling, thank you for waking up and coming to comfort Rose Mamie,” she said, and from its very fullness a happy little sob escaped from her heart.
“I tell you, Rose Mamie,” said the General, instantly, again sympathetically alarmed, “I’d better come over in your bed and go to sleep. You can put your head on my shoulder and if you cry, getting me wet will wake me up to keep care of you agin, ’cause I am so sleepy now if you was to holler louder than Tucker Poteet I wouldn’t wake up no more.” And suiting his actions to his proposition the General stretched himself out beside Rose Mary, buried his touseled head on her pillow and presented a diminutive though sturdy little shoulder, against which she instantly laid her soft cheek.
“You scrouge just like the puppy,” was his appreciative comment of her gentle nestling against his little body. “Now I’m going to sleep, but if praying to God don’t keep you from crying, then wake me up,” and with this generous and really heroic offer the General drifted off again into the depths, into which he soon drew Rose Mary with him, comforted by his faith and lulled in his strong little arms.