“Don’t talk such nonsense, Flo,” Mrs. Tobin chided. “Men are deceivers, and the less you have to do with them the better. Just think of that poor girl who drowned herself. No doubt she found out what that Lord’s son was like, and rather than marry him she ended her life. Did you hear whether they found her body, Sam’l?”
The captain gave a guilty start, coughed, and stared at his wife. He was afraid she would ask this question.
“No, I guess they didn’t find her, Martha. They was searchin’ the river when we pulled out from Benton’s. I haven’t heard anything since. She’s Henry Randall’s daughter, I believe.”
“And his wife, Sam’l, was old Silas Parks’ daughter. He was the real estate man who sold that bed of rocks to Mr. Hampton. She was worth a pile of money when she married Randall.”
“Yes, an’ I guess she’s worth more to-day, Martha. She’s a shrewd one, all right, an’ as close-fisted as her dad. My, it was a caution the way he took Hampton in on that place. It really isn’t worth five cents.”
“But there’s coal on it, though, Sam’l, an’ that should be worth a great deal.”
“Coal, ha, ha. Yes, thar’s coal, but what good is it way back in the hills? John can’t git anybody to touch it, though he’s been tryin’ hard. It’s too fer from the river. I do feel sorry fer John. He’s a decent feller, an’ if he could only git that notion about the coal out of his head he might be good fer something. He’s not much at farmin’.”
“And to think of him getting married, Sam’l! How on earth will he support a wife? It’s as much as he and his mother can do to get along as it is, though many think they are well off. But, then, that’s none of our business. He can marry anyone he likes for all I care. I only want to know what she looks like, and where she comes from. If she’s to be our neighbour, I want to find out all I can about her. So, hurry up and get ready. I’ll help Flo with the dishes.”
As the Tobins drew near the Hampton home, they heard the sound of music accompanied by singing. They stopped at the foot of the verandah steps and listened. The blind of the parlour window was up, and they could see Mrs. Hampton at the piano, with John and the fair visitor standing by her side. It was an old familiar song they were singing, and it sounded especially sweet to the three listeners outside.
“Say, I haven’t heard anything like that fer years,” the captain remarked. “It strikes me jist right. Let’s stay here.”
“We shall do no such thing,” his wife replied. “It’s not good manners.”
“Isn’t she pretty?” Flo whispered. “And how happy she and John seem to be.”
Mrs. Tobin made no reply, but led the way up the steps, knocked at the door, opened it and walked in. This was her usual custom, and Mrs. Hampton always did the same when she visited the Tobins. The music and singing suddenly ceased as the visitors entered, and an expression of annoyance swept for an instant over John’s face as he turned and saw Mrs. Tobin standing in the doorway.