A little later the bewildered horse had been fully wakened and harnessed; Jacob’s daughter and her lover had come eagerly out to hear what had happened; Mrs. Martin had somehow found a chance amidst all the confusion to ascend to her garret in quest of some useful remedies in the shape of herbs, and then she and her husband set forth on their benevolent errands. Martin was very apt to look on the dark side of things, and it was a curious fact that while the two sisters were like the brothers, one being inclined to despondency and one to enthusiasm, the balance was well kept by each of the men having chosen his opposite in temperament. Accordingly, while Martin heaved a great sigh from time to time and groaned softly, “Pore gal—pore gal!” his partner was brimful of zealous eagerness to return to the scene of distress and sorrow which she had lately left. Next to the doctor himself, she was the authority on all medical subjects for that neighborhood, and it was some time since her skill had been needed.
“Does the young one seem likely?” asked Martin with solemn curiosity.
“Fur’s I could see,” answered his wife promptly, “but nobody took no great notice of it. Pore Ad’line catched hold of it with such a grip as she was comin’ to that we couldn’t git it away from her and had to fetch’em in both to once. Come urge the beast along, Martin, I’ll give ye the partic’lars to-morrow, I do’ know’s Ad’line’s livin’ now. We got her right to bed’s I told you, and I set right off considerin’ that I could git over the ground fastest of any. Mis’ Thacher of course wouldn’t leave and Jane’s heavier than I be.” Martin’s smile was happily concealed by the darkness; his wife and her sister had both grown stout steadily as they grew older, but each insisted upon the other’s greater magnitude and consequent incapacity for quick movement. A casual observer would not have been persuaded that there was a pound’s weight of difference between them.
Martin Dyer meekly suggested that perhaps he’d better go in a minute to see if there was anything Mis’ Thacher needed, but Eliza, his wife, promptly said that she didn’t want anything but the doctor as quick as she could get him, and disappeared up the short lane while the wagon rattled away up the road. The white mist from the river clung close to the earth, and it was impossible to see even the fences near at hand, though overhead there were a few dim stars. The air had grown somewhat softer, yet there was a sharp chill in it, and the ground was wet and sticky under foot. There were lights in the bedroom and in the kitchen of the Thacher house, but suddenly the bedroom candle flickered away and the window was darkened. Mrs. Martin’s heart gave a quick throb, perhaps Adeline had already died. It might have been a short-sighted piece of business that she had gone home for her husband.
LIFE AND DEATH