Hildegarde laid her head against the good Dame’s shoulder and fell into a brown study. Nurse Lucy seemed also in a thoughtful mood; and so the two sat quietly in the soft twilight till the red glow faded in the west, and left in its stead a single star, gleaming like a living jewel in the purple sky. All the birds were asleep save the untiring whippoorwill, who presented his plea for the castigation of the unhappy William with ceaseless energy. A little night-breeze came up, and said pleasant, soft things to the leaves, which rustled gently in reply, and the crickets gave their usual evening concert, beginning with a movement in G sharp, allegro con moto. Other sound there was none, until by and by the noise of wheels was heard, and the click of old Nancy’s hoofs; and out of the gathering darkness Farmer Hartley appeared, just returned from the village, whither he had gone to make arrangements about selling his hay.
“Wal, Marm Lucy,” he said, cheerfully, throwing the reins on Nancy’s neck and jumping from the wagon, “is that you settin’ thar? ’Pears to me I see somethin’ like a white apun gloomin’ out o’ the dark.”
“Yes, Jacob,” answered “Marm Lucy,” “I am here, and so is Hilda. The evening has been so lovely, we have not had the heart to light the lamps, but have just been sitting here watching the sunset. We’ll come in now, though,” she added, leading the way into the house. “You’ll be wanting some supper, my man. Or did ye stop at Cousin Sarah’s?”
“I stopped at Sary’s,” replied the farmer. “Ho! ho! yes, Sary gave me some supper, though she warn’t in no mood for seein’ comp’ny, even her own kin. Poor Sary! she was in a dretful takin’, sure enough!”
“Why, what was the matter?” asked Dame Hartley, as she trimmed and lighted the great lamp, and drew the short curtains of Turkey red cotton across the windows. “Is Abner sick again!”
“Shouldn’t wonder if he was, by this time,” replied the farmer; “but he warn’t at the beginnin’ of it. I’ll tell ye how ’twas;” and he sat down in his great leather chair, and stretched his legs out comfortably before him, while his wife filled his pipe and brought it to him,—a little attention which she never forgot. “Sary, she bought a new bunnit yisterday!” Farmer Hartley continued, puffing away at the pipe. “She’s kind o’ savin’, ye know, Sary is [Nurse Lucy nodded, with a knowing air], and she hadn’t had a new bunnit for ten years. (I d’ ‘no’ ’s she’s had one for twenty!” he added in parenthesis; “I never seed her with one to my knowledge.) Wal, the gals was pesterin’ her, an’ sayin’ she didn’t look fit to go to meetin’ in the old bunnit, so ‘t last she giv’ way, and went an’ bought a new one. ‘Twas one o’ these newfangled shapes. What was it Lizy called it? Somethin’ Chinese, I reckon. Fan Song! That was it!”
“Fanchon, wasn’t it, perhaps?” asked Hilda, much amused.