“‘Oh! Miss Mildred,’ I said, ’do you think she can be happy or contented here? I’ll do my best; I’m sure you know that! But if she’s as you say, she is a very different child to what you were, Miss Mildred dear.’
“‘She will not be happy at first,’ says Miss Mildred. ’But she has a really noble nature, Nurse Lucy, and I am very sure that it will triumph over the follies and faults which are on the outside.’
“And then she kissed me, the dear! and came up and helped me set the little room to rights, and kissed the pillows, sweet lady, and cried over them a bit. Ah me! ’tis hard parting from our children, even for a little while, that it is.”
Dame Hartley paused and sighed. Then she said: “And so, here the child is, for good or for ill, and we must do our very best by her, Jacob, you as well as I. What ailed you to-night, to tease her so at supper? I thought shame of you, my man.”
“Well, Marm Lucy,” said the farmer, “I don’t hardly know what ailed me. But I tell ye what, ’twas either laugh or cry for me, and I thought laughin’ was better nor t’other. To see that gal a-settin’ there, with her pretty head tossed up, and her fine, mincin’ ways, as if ’twas an honor to the vittles to put them in her mouth; and to think of my maid—” He stopped abruptly, and rising from the bench, began to pace up and down the garden-path. His wife joined him after a moment, and the two walked slowly to and fro together, talking in low tones, while the soft summer darkness gathered closer and closer, and the pleasant night-sounds woke, cricket and katydid and the distant whippoorwill filling the air with a cheerful murmur.