While Quincy was debating with himself and coming to the conclusion previously mentioned, another conversation, in which his name often occurred, took place in Deacon Mason’s kitchen.
The old couple were seated by the old-fashioned fireplace, in which a wood fire was burning. The stove had superseded the hanging crane and the tin oven for cooking purposes, but Deacon Mason clung to the old-fashioned fireplace for heat and light. The moon was high and its rays streamed in through the windows, the curtains of which had not been drawn.
For quite a while they sat in silence, then Deacon Mason said, “There is something I want to speak about, mother, and yet I don’t want to. I know there is nothing to it and nothing likely to come of it, but the fact is, mother, Huldy’s bein’ talked about down to the Corner, ’cause Mr. Sawyer is boardin’ here. You know she goes out ridin’ with him, which ain’t no harm, and she has a sort o’ broken with ’Zekiel, for which I am sorry, for ’Zekiel is one of the likely young men of the town.”
“So I do, father,” said Mrs. Mason, “and if you don’t meddle, things will come out all right. Mr. Sawyer don’t care nothing for Huldy, and I don’t think she cares anything for him. He will be going back to the city in a little while and then things will be all right again.”
“Well,” said the Deacon, “I think Huldy better stop goin’ out to ride with him anyway; she is high spirited, and if I tell her not to go she’ll want to know why.”
“But,” broke in Mrs. Mason, “ef you tell him won’t he want to know why?”
“Well, perhaps,” said the Deacon, “but I will speak to him anyway.”
The next morning after breakfast Deacon Mason asked Mr. Sawyer to step into the parlor, and remarking that when he had anything to say he always said it right out, he asked Quincy if he was on good terms with Mr. ’Zekiel Pettengill.
“I don’t know,” said Quincy. “I don’t know of anything that I have done at which he could take offence, but he keeps away from me, and when I do meet him and speak to him, a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is all I get in reply.”
“Haven’t you any idea what makes him treat you so?” asked the Deacon.
“Yes, Mr. Mason, I think I do know, but it never entered my mind until late yesterday afternoon, and then it was called to my attention by a stranger. I am glad I have this chance to speak to you, Mr. Mason, for while I have had a very enjoyable time here, I have decided to find another boarding place, and I shall leave just as soon as I make the necessary arrangements.”
The Deacon was a little crestfallen at having the business taken out of his hands so quickly, and saying he was very sorry to have the young man go, he sought his wife and told her everything was fixed up and that Mr. Sawyer was going away.
Quincy started to leave the house by the front door; in the hallway he met Huldy, who had just come down stairs. He had asked her to go to ride with him that day, and as he looked at her pretty face he vowed to himself that he would not be deprived of that pleasure. It could do no harm, for it would be their last ride together and probably their last meeting.