“Now cheer up,” said he. “See how pleasant it looks down in the field.”
They sat looking out over the field; the horizon sky stretched out infinitely in straight blue lines; one could imagine he saw it melt into the sea which lay beyond; the field itself, with its smooth level of young grass, was like a waveless green sea. A white road lay on the left, and a man was walking on it with a weary, halting gait; he carried a tin dinner-pail, which dipped and caught the western sunlight at every step. A cow lowed, and a pair of white horns tossed over some bars at the right of the field; a boy crossed it with long, loping strides and preliminary swishes of a birch stick. Then a whistle blew with a hoarse musical note, and a bell struck six times.
Lois freed her hand and got up. “I guess I must go,” said she. Her cheeks were blushing softly as she put on her hat.
“Well, I should like to sit here an hour longer, but maybe your aunt will think it’s growing damp for you to be out-of-doors,” said Francis, standing up.
As they went between the graves, he caught her hand again, and led her softly along. When they reached the gate, he dropped it with a kindly pressure.
“Now remember, you are going to cheer up,” he said, “and you’re going to have real nice times here in Elliot.” When they reached the Maxwell house, his aunt was coming down the walk.
“Oh, there you are!” she called out. “I was jest goin’ home. Well, what did you think of the Mason monument, Lois?”
“It’s real handsome.”
“Ain’t it handsome? An’ wa’n’t the flowers on Mis’ Perry’s grave elegant? Good-night. I’m goin’ to have you an’ your aunt come over an’ take tea to-morrow, an’ then you can get acquainted with Flora.”
“Good-night,” said Francis, smiling, and the aunt and nephew went on down the road. She carried something bulky under her shawl, and she walked with a curious side-wise motion, keeping the side next her nephew well forward.
“Don’t you want me to carry your bundle, Aunt Jane?” Lois heard him say as they walked off.
“No,” the old woman replied, hastily and peremptorily. “It ain’t anything.”
When Lois went into the house, her mother gave her a curious look of stern defiance and anxiety. She saw that her eyes were red, as if she had been crying, but she said nothing, and went about getting tea.
After tea the minister and his wife called. Green River was a conservative little New England village; it had always been the custom there when the minister called to invite him to offer a prayer. Mrs. Field felt it incumbent upon her now; if she had any reluctance, she did not yield to it. Just before the callers left she said, with the conventional solemn drop of the voice, “Mr. Wheeler, won’t you offer a prayer before you go?”