“Be you goin’?”
Barnabas did not reply. His mother moved, and brought her eyes on a range with his, and the two faces confronted each other in silence, while it was as if two wills clashed swords in advance of them.
Then Mrs. Thayer moved away. “I ain’t never goin’ to say anything more to you about it,” she said; “but there’s one thing—you needn’t come home to dinner. You sha’n’t ever sit down to a meal in your father’s and mother’s house whilst this goes on.”
“G’lang!” said Barnabas. The horse started, and he bent to the plough. His mother stepped homeward over the plough-ridges with stern unyielding steps, as if they were her enemies slain in battle.
Just as she reached her own yard her husband drove in on a rattling farm cart. She beckoned to him, and he pulled the horse up short.
“I’ve told him he needn’t come home to dinner,” she said, standing close to the wheel.
Caleb looked down at her with a scared expression. “Well, I s’pose you know what’s best, Deborah,” he said.
“If he can’t do what’s right he’s got to suffer for it,” returned Deborah.
She went into the house, and Caleb drove clanking into the barn.
Before dinner the old man stole off across lots, keeping well out of sight of the kitchen windows lest his wife should see him, and pleaded with Barnabas, but all in vain. The young man was more outspoken with his father, but he was just as firm.
“Your mother’s terrible set about it, Barney. You’d better go over to Charlotte’s and make up.”
“I can’t; it’s all over,” Barney said, in reply; and Caleb at length plodded soberly and clumsily home.
After dinner he went out behind the barn, and Rebecca, going to feed the hens, found him sitting under the wild-cherry tree, fairly sobbing in his old red handkerchief.
She went near him, and stood looking at him with restrained sympathy.
“Don’t feel bad, father,” she said, finally. “Barney’ll get over it, and come to supper.”
“No, he won’t,” groaned the old man—“no, he won’t. He’s jest like your mother.”
The weeks went on, and still Barnabas had not yielded. The story of his quarrel with Cephas Barnard and his broken engagement with Charlotte had become an old one in Pembroke, but it had not yet lost its interest. A genuine excitement was so rare in the little peaceful village that it had to be made to last, and rolled charily under the tongue like a sweet morsel. However, there seemed to be no lack now, for the one had set others in motion: everybody knew how Barnabas Thayer no longer lived at home, and did not sit in his father’s pew in church, but in the gallery, and how Richard Alger had stopped going to see Sylvia Crane.
There was not much walking in the village, except to and from church on a Sabbath day; but now on pleasant Sabbath evenings an occasional couple, or an inquisitive old man with eyes sharp under white brows, and chin set ahead like a pointer’s, strolled past Sylvia’s house and the Thayer house, Barney’s new one and Cephas Barnard’s.