“Wall, you’re your own mistress,” replied Mrs. Putnam, “and I’m my own mistress and pa’s. Come to think on’t, there was one thing I said to him that might sot him against yer.”
“What was that?” demanded Lindy fiercely.
“Wall,” said Mrs. Putnam, “he said he was twenty-three, and I sort a told him incidentally you was twenty-eight. You know yer thirty, and p’raps he might object to ye on account of yer age.”
This was too much for Lindy. She rushed out of the room and up to her chamber, where she threw herself on her bed in a passion of tears.
“It’s too bad,” she cried. “I will see him again, I will find some way, and I’ll win him yet, even if I am twenty-eight.”
Two days afterwards Hiram told Mandy that he heard down to Hill’s grocery that that city chap had two strings to his bow now. He was courting the Deacon’s daughter, but had been up to see Mr. and Mrs. Putnam to find out how much money Lindy had in her own right, and to see if there was any prospect of getting anything out of the old folks.
After supper on the day he had been visiting Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, Quincy went to his room and wrote a long letter to his father, inquiring if he ever had an uncle by the name of James Sawyer. Before retiring he sat and thought over the experiences of the past fortnight since his arrival in Eastborough, but the most of his thoughts were given to the remark made by Mrs. Putnam about his leaving Deacon Mason’s. He had been uniformly polite and to a slight degree attentive to Miss Mason. The Deacon’s horse was a slow one, and so on several occasions he had hired a presentable rig and a good stepper over to Eastborough Centre, and had taken Miss Mason out to ride. He reflected now, as he had never done before, that of course the whole town knew this, and the thought came home to him strongly that by so doing he might have inflicted a triple injury upon Miss Mason, Mr. Pettingill, and himself. He was not in love with Miss Mason, nor Miss Putnam; they were both pretty girls, and in the city it was the custom to be attentive to pretty girls without regard to consequences.
He had asked Miss Mason to go riding with him the next day, but he inwardly resolved that it would be the last time he would take her, and he was in doubt whether to go back to the city at once or go to some other town and board at a hotel, or look around and find some other place in Eastborough. One consideration kept him from leaving Eastborough; he knew that if he did so the singing-master would claim that he had driven him out of town, and although he had a hearty contempt for the man, he was too high spirited to leave town and give the people any reason to think that Strout’s antipathy to him had anything to do with it.
Finally a bright idea struck him. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? He would go and see Uncle Ike, state the case frankly and ask him to let him live with him for a month. He could bunk in the kitchen, and he preferred Uncle Ike’s conversation to that of any other of the male sex whom he had met in Eastborough. With this idea firmly fixed in his mind he retired and slept peacefully.