The door opened soon, and all except Rebecca came out. They stood consulting together in low voices, and Mrs. Sloane listened. They were deciding where to take Rebecca.
All at once Mrs. Sloane spoke. Her voice was still high-pitched with anger.
“If you want to know where to take her to, I can tell you,” said she. “I’d keep her here an’ welcome, but I s’pose you think I ain’t good enough, you’re all such mighty particular folks, an’ ain’t never had no disgrace in your own families. William Berry can’t take her to his home to-night, for his mother wouldn’t leave a whole skin on either of ’em. Her own mother has turned her out, an’ Barney can’t take her in. She’s got to go somewhere where there’s a woman; she’s terrible upset. There ain’t no other way but for you an’ Mis’ Barnes to take her home to-night, an’ keep her till William gets a place fixed to put her in.” Mrs. Sloane turned to the minister and his wife, regarding them with a mixture of defiance, sarcasm, and appeal.
They looked at each other hesitatingly. The minister’s wife paled within her hood, and her eyes reddened with tears.
“I shouldn’t s’pose you’d need any time to think on it, such good folks as you be,” said Mrs. Sloane. “There ain’t no other way. She’s got to be where there’s a woman.”
Mrs. Barnes turned her head towards her husband. “She can come, if you think she ought to,” she said, in a trembling voice.
The sun was setting when the party started. William led Rebecca out through the kitchen—a muffled, hesitating figure, whose very identity seemed to be lost, for she wore Mrs. Sloane’s blue plaid shawl pinned closely over her head and face—and lifted her into his cutter with the minister and his wife. Then he and Barney walked along, plodding through the deep snow behind the cutter. The sun was setting, and it was bitterly cold; the snow creaked and the trees swung with a stiff rattle of bare limbs in the wind.
The two men never spoke to each other. The minister drove slowly, and they could always see Mrs. Jim Sloane’s blue plaid shawl ahead.
When they reached the Caleb Thayer house, Barney stopped and William followed on alone after the sleigh.
Barney turned into the yard, and his father was standing in the barn door, looking out.
“Tell mother she’s married,” Barney sang out, hoarsely. Then he went back to the road, and home to his own house.
Barney went to see Rebecca the next day, but the minister’s wife came to the door and would not admit him. She puckered her lips painfully, and a blush shot over her face and little thin throat as she stood there before him. “I guess you had better not come in,” said she, nervously. “I guess you had better wait until Mrs. Berry gets settled in her house. Mr. Berry is going to hire the old Bennett place. I guess it would be pleasanter.”