It must have been some person aged, say, twenty, who expressed to Noah the opinion that there wasn’t going to be much of a shower. At twenty tomorrow is ever a clear day, and notes are easy things to meet, and friends and women are faithful, and Welsh rarebit is digestible, and sleep is rest, and air is ever good to breathe. Grant Harlson was not particularly troubled by the condition of his finances. That the money available had lasted till his schooling ended, was, at least, a good thing, and, as for the future, was it not his business to attend to that presently? Meanwhile he would dawdle for a week or two.
So the young man stretched his big limbs and lounged in hammocks and advised or domineered over his sisters, as the case might be, and read in a desultory way, and fished and shot, and ate with an appetite which threatened to bring famine to the family. Your lakeside small town is a fair place in July. He would loaf, he said, for a week or two. The loafing was destined to have character, perhaps to change a character.
There had come to Harlson in college, as to most young men, occasional packages from home, and in one of these he had found a pretty thing, a man’s silk tie, worked wonderfully in green and gold, and evidently the product of great needlecraft. It was to his fancy, and he had thought to thank whichever of his sisters had wasted such time upon him, but had forgotten it when next he wrote, and so the incident had passed.
One day, wearing this same tie, he bethought him of his negligence lying supine on the grass, while his sister Bess was meanwhile reading in the immediate vicinity. He would be grateful, as a brother should.
“I say, Bess,” he called, “I forgot to write about this tie and thank you. Which of you did it?”
Bess looked up, interested.
“I thought I wrote you when I sent the other things. None of us did it. It was Mrs. Rolfston.”
“Certainly. She was here one day, when we were making up a lot of things for you, and said that she’d make something herself to go with the next lot. A week or two later she brought me that tie, and I inclosed it. Pretty, isn’t it?”
The young man on the grass was thinking.
He knew Mrs. Rolfston slightly; knew her as the wife of a well-to-do man who saw but little of her husband.
Daughter of a poor man of none too good character in the little town, she had grown up shrewd, self-possessed, and with much animal beauty. At twenty she had married a man of fifty, a builder of steamboats, a red-faced, riotous brute, who had bought her as he would buy a horse, and to whom she went easily because she wanted the position money gives. Within a week he had disgusted her to such an extent that