Quincy felt some inclination to find out the real reason why Uncle Ike had left his family, but he repressed it and called attention to some trees, heavily coated with snow and ice, which looked beautiful in the sunshine, and he described them so graphically, bringing in allusions to pearls and diamonds and strings of glistening jewels, that Alice clapped her hands in delight and said she would take him as her literary partner, to write in the descriptive passages. Quincy for an instant felt impelled to take advantage of the situation, but saying to himself, “The time is not yet,” he touched the horse with his whip and for half a minute was obliged to give it his undivided attention.
“Did you think the horse was running away?” said he to Alice, when he had brought him down to a trot. “Were you afraid?”
“I am afraid of nothing nowadays,” she replied. “I trust my companions implicitly, knowing that they will tell me if I am in danger and advise me what to do. I had a debate a long time ago with Uncle Ike about blind people and deaf people. He said he would rather be stone deaf than blind. As he argued it, the deaf person could read and write and get along very comfortably by himself. I argued on the other side. I wish to hear the voices of my friends when they talk and sing and read, and then, you know, everybody lends a helping hand to a person who is blind, but the deaf person must look out for himself.”
“Either state is to be regretted, if there is no hope of relief,” remarked Quincy. He thought he would refer to Dr. Tillotson, but they were approaching the centre of the town, and he knew he would not have time to explain his action before he reached the post office, so he determined to postpone it until they were on the way home.
There were three letters for himself, two for Alice and a lot of papers and magazines for Uncle Ike. He resumed his seat in the sleigh and they started on their journey homeward.
“Would you like to go back the same way that we came?” asked Quincy, “or shall we go by the upper road and come by Deacon Mason’s?”
“I should like to stop and see Huldy,” said Alice, and Quincy took the upper road.
Conversation lagged on the homeward trip. Alice held her two letters in her hand and looked at them several times, apparently trying to recognize the handwriting. As Quincy glanced at her sidewise, he felt sure that he saw tears in her eyes, and he decided that it would be an inappropriate time to announce the subject of the new doctor. In fact, he was beginning to think, the more his mind dwelt upon the subject, that he had taken an inexcusable liberty in arranging for Dr. Tillotson to come down without first speaking to her, or at least to her brother or uncle. But the deed was done, and he must find some way to have her see the doctor, and get his opinion about her eyes.
Quincy spent so much time revolving this matter in his mind, that he was quite astonished when he looked around and found himself at the exact place where he spoke those words to Huldy Mason that had ended in the accident. This time he gave careful attention to horse and hill and curve, and a moment later he drew up the sleigh at Deacon Mason’s front gate.