“Aunt Betsy, is it possible that you and Morris contrived this plan?” Katy asked, half indignantly, as she began in part to understand her aunt’s great anxiety for her to visit Linwood that afternoon.
“Morris had nothing to do with it,” Aunt Betsy replied. “It was my doin’s wholly, and this is the thanks I git. You quarrel with him and git mad at me, who thought only of your good. Catherine, you know you like Morris Grant, and if he asked you to have him why don’t you?”
“I can’t, Aunt Betsy. I can’t, after all that has passed. It would be unjust to Wilford.”
“Unjust to Wilford—fiddlesticks!” was Aunt Betsy’s expressive reply, as she started on toward Linwood, saying she was going after the umberell before it got lost, with nobody there to tend to things as they should be tended to. “Have you any word to send?” she asked, hoping Katy had relented.
But Katy had not; and with a toss of her head, which shook the raindrops from her capeless shaker, Aunt Betsy went on her way, and was soon confronting Morris, sitting just where Katy had left him, and looking very pale and sad.
He was not glad to see Aunt Betsy. He would rather be alone until such time as he could control himself and still his throbbing heart. But with his usual affability, he bade Aunt Betsy sit down, shivering a little when he saw her in the chair where Katy had sat, her thin, angular body presenting a striking contrast to the graceful, girlish figure which had sat there an hour since, and the huge India rubbers she held up to the fire as unlike as possible to the boot of fairy dimensions he had admired so much when it was drying on the hearth.
“I met Catherine,” Aunt Betsy began, “and mistrusted at once that something was to pay, for a girl don’t leave her umberell in such a rain and go cryin’ home for nothin’.”
Morris colored, resenting for an instant this interference by a third party; but Aunt Betsy was so honest and simple-hearted that he could not be angry long, and listened calmly while she continued:
“I have not lived sixty-odd years for nothing, and I know the signs pretty well. I’ve been through the mill myself.”
Here Aunt Betsy’s voice grew lower in its tone, and Morris looked up with real interest, while she went on:
“There’s Joel Upham—you know Joel—keeps a tin shop now, and seats the folks in meetin’. He asked me once for my company, and to be smart I told him ‘no,’ when all the time I meant ‘yes,’ thinkin’ he would ask ag’in, but he didn’t, and the next I knew he was keepin’ company with Patty Adams, now his wife. I remember I sniveled a little at being taken at my word, but it served me right for saying one thing when I meant another. However, it don’t matter now. Joel is as clever as the day is long, but he is a shiftless critter, never splits his kindlin’s till jest bedtime, and Patty is pestered to death for wood, while his snorin’ nights, she says, is awful, and that I never could abide; so, on the whole, I’m better off than Patty.”