“I won’t be called a cradle-robber,” she said, firmly; and at that her companion swore mildly but fervently.
“You’re so young,” she said further; “and not a bit settled,” she added.
“But you’re young, too,” he reminded her.
“I’m older than you are,” she said.
“I suppose that you aren’t any more settled than I am, and that’s why you hesitate,” he said grimly.
“Now that’s unworthy of you,” she cried; “and I have a good mind—”
But the direful words were never spoken, for she was in his arms again— close in his arms; and, as he kissed her with a delicious sensation that it was all too good to be true, he whispered, laughing:
“I always meant to lord it over my wife, so I’ll begin by saying: ’Have it your own way, as long as I have you.’”
Mrs. Rosscott laid her cheek back against his coat lapel, and looked up into his eyes with the sweetest smile that even he had ever seen upon even her face.
“It’s a bargain,” she murmured.
Along in the beginning of the fall Aunt Mary began suddenly to grow very feeble indeed. After the first week or two it became apparent that she would have to be quiet and very prudent for some time, and it was when this information was imparted to her that the family discovered that she had been intending to go to New York for the Horse-Show.
“She’s awful mad,” Lucinda said to Joshua. “The doctor says she’ll have to stay in bed.”
“She won’t stay in bed long,” said Joshua.
“The doctor says if she don’t stay in bed she’ll die,” said Lucinda.
“She won’t die,” said Joshua.
Lucinda looked at Joshua and felt a keen desire to throw her flatiron at him. The world always thinks that the Lucindas have no feelings; the world never knows how near the flatirons come to the Joshuas often and often.
Arethusa came for two days and looked the situation well over.
“I think I won’t stay,” she said to Lucinda, “but you must write me twice a week and I’ll write the others.”
Then Arethusa departed and Lucinda remained alone to superintend things and be superintended by Aunt Mary.
Aunt Mary’s superintendence waxed extremely vigorous almost at once. She had out her writing desk, and wrote Jack a letter, as a consequence of which everything published in New York was mailed to his aunt as soon as it was off the presses. Lucinda was set reading aloud and, except when the mail came, was hardly allowed to halt for food and sleep.
“My heavens above,” said the slave to Joshua, “it don’t seem like I can live with her!”
“You’ll live with her,” said Joshua.
“It’s more as flesh and blood can bear.”
“Flesh and blood can bear a good deal more’n you think for,” said Joshua, and then he delivered up two letters and drove off toward the barn.