“Well,” said ’Zekiel, “if that person don’t forgive you I don’t want anything more to do with him.”
“Let me tell you a little story,” said Huldy. “A little boy and girl whose homes were not a quarter of a mile apart grew up together in a little country town. As children they loved each other, and as they grew older that love really grew stronger, though not so plainly shown or spoken. Everybody thought that one day they would be married, though he had never asked her to be his wife. Did you ever hear of anything like that, ’Zekiel?”
“Well,” remarked ’Zekiel, “I have in my mind two persons whose relations were pretty similar up to a certain point.”
“Yes,” said Huldy, eagerly, “and that point was reached when a young man from the city, whose father was known to be very wealthy, came to board in her father’s house.” Huldy looked at ’Zekiel inquiringly.
“Yes, I’ve heard of something like that,” said ’Zekiel.
“For a time,” continued Huldy, “the young girl was unfaithful to her old-time lover. She thought the young man from the city was learning to love her because he was polite and attentive to her. She thought it would be nice to be rich and go to the city to live, but the young man soon undeceived her. He took her to ride one day, and on their way home he told her he was going to leave her father’s house. She wished to know the reason, but he would not give it. She divined it, however, and in her agitation lost control of the horse she was driving. The buggy was overturned and her arm was broken.” She looked up at ’Zekiel. His face was grave, but he nodded for her to go on. “She stayed in bed for three weeks, and during that time she lived over her short life a hundred, yes, a thousand, times; she knew that her fancy had been but a fleeting dream. A suspicion that perhaps the young man had imagined her feelings towards him was what had nearly broken her heart. Supposing you were the man, ’Zekiel, and I were the woman in this little story, could you forgive me if I said I was sorry and would never do it again?”
“I forgave you, Huldy, when I let him come to board in my house. He told Uncle Ike why he left your father’s house. The folks were talking about you and him, but he never imagined that you were in love with him, or thought any more about him than you would have of any passing acquaintance.”
“I am so glad,” cried Huldy; “you have done me more good than the doctor, ’Zekiel;” and she dropped her head upon his shoulder.
’Zekiel was struck with an idea, “If I am a better doctor than the other one, Huldy, I ought to get a bigger price for my services than he does.”
Huldy looked up. “What will your price be, Dr. Pettengill?”
“I think I shall charge,” said ’Zekiel, “one hundred thousand dollars, and as I know you haven’t got the money and can’t raise it, I think I shall have to hold you for security.”
He suited the action to the word, and they sat there so long, happy in their mutual love, that the Deacon and his wife came upstairs and entered the room quietly. When they saw the picture before them, thrown into prominence by the light of the fire, the Deacon said in a low tone to his wife, “I have thought so all along.”