She gave him a wealth of gratitude from her beautiful brown eyes. “It is not that I find the place hard, Mr. David. Every one has been so kind to me that I would be glad to stay, but—but——”
He did not press her for her reason. “You have been ill, I believe you said?”
“Yes, very ill indeed, and there are not many who would give work to a delicate girl. Oh, I am sorry to go——” She broke off wildly, and the tears filled her eyes.
“Miss Anna, when one is ill, it’s hard to know what is best. Don’t make up your mind just yet. Stay for a few days and give us a trial, and just call on me when you want a bucket of water or anything else that taxes your strength.”
She tried to answer him but could not. They were the first words of real kindness, after all these months of sorrow and loneliness, and they broke down the icy barrier that seemed to have enclosed her heart. She bent her head and wept silently.
“There, there, little woman,” he said, patting her shoulder when he would have given anything to put his arm around her and offer her the devotion of his life. But Dave had a good bit of hard common sense under his hat, and he knew that such a declaration would only hasten her departure and the wise young man continued to be brotherly, to urge her to stay for his mother’s sake, and because it was so hard for a young woman to find the proper kind of a home, and really she was not a good judge of what was best for her.
And Anna, whose storm-swept soul was so weary of beating against the rocks, listened and made up her mind to enjoy the wholesome companionship of these good people, for a little while at least.
“Blest be those feasts with simple
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale.”—Goldsmith.
Sanderson’s clothes, his manner, his slightly English accent, were all so many items in a good letter of credit to those simple people. The Squire was secretly proud at having a city man like young Sanderson for a neighbor. It would unquestionably add tone to Wakefield society.
Kate regarded him with the frank admiration of a young woman who appreciates a smart appearance, good manner, and the indefinable something that goes to make up the ensemble of the man of the world. He could say nothing, cleverly; he had little subtleties of manner that put the other men she had met to poor advantage beside him. On the night in question the Squire was giving a supper in honor of the berry-pickers who had helped to gather in the crop the week before. Afterwards, they would sing the sweet, homely songs that all the village loved, and then troop home by moonlight to the accompaniment of their own music.
“Well, Mr. Sanderson,” said the Squire, “suppose you stay to supper with us. See, we’ve lots of good company”—and he waved his hand, indicating the different groups, “and we’ll talk about the stock afterwards.”