After that the ride seemed very short, and Wilford was surprised when as they turned a corner in the sandy road, Morris pointed to the farmhouse, saying: “We are almost there—that is the place.”
“That!” and Wilford’s voice indicated his disappointment, for in all his mental pictures of Katy Lennox’s home he had never imagined anything like this:
Large, rambling and weird-like, with something lofty and imposing, just because it was so ancient, was the house he had in his mind, and he could not conceal his chagrin as his eye took in the small, low building, with its high windows and tiny panes of glass, paintless and blindless, standing there alone among the hills, Morris understood it perfectly; but, without seeming to notice it, remarked: “It is the oldest house probably in the country, and should be invaluable on that account. I think we Americans are too fond of change and too much inclined to throw aside all that reminds us of the past. Now I like the farmhouse just because it is old and unpretentious.”
“Yes, certainly,” Wilford answered, looking ruefully around him at the old stone wall, half tumbled down, the tall well-sweep, and the patch of sunflowers in the garden, with Aunt Betsy bending behind them, picking tomatoes for dinner, and shading her eyes with her hand to look at him as he drove up.
It was all very rural, no doubt, and very charming to people who liked it, but Wilford did not like it, and he was wishing himself safely in New York when a golden head flashed for an instant before the window and then disappeared as Katy emerged into view, waiting at the door to receive him and looking so sweetly in her dress of white with the scarlet geranium blossoms in her hair, that Wilford forgot the homeliness of her surroundings, thinking only of her and how soft and warm was the little hand he held as she led him into the parlor. He did not know she was so beautiful, he said to himself, and he feasted his eyes upon her, forgetful for a time of all else. But afterward when Katy left him for a moment he noticed the well-worn carpet, the six cane-seated chairs, the large stuffed rocking chair, the fall-leaf table, with its plain wool spread, and, lastly, the really expensive piano, the only handsome piece of furniture the room contained, and which he rightly guessed must have come from Morris.
“What would Juno or Mark say?” he kept repeating to himself, half shuddering as he recalled the bantering proposition to accompany him made by Mark Ray, the only young man whom he considered fully his equal in New York.
Wilford knew these feelings were unworthy of him and he tried to shake them off, listlessly turning over the books upon the table, books which betokened in some one both taste and talent of no low order.
“Mark’s favorite,” he said, lifting up a volume of Schiller, and turning to the fly-leaf he read, “Helen Lennox, from Cousin Morris,” just as Katy returned and with her Helen, whom she presented to the stranger.