I missed Harriet more than any of them. During the last of the time she had stolen in to see me quite frequently when she was released from her mother’s guardianship for a minute. None of our village girls were kept as close as the Jamesons. Louisa and I used to wonder whether Mrs. Jameson kept any closer ward because of Harry Liscom. He certainly never went to the Jameson house. We knew that either Mrs. Jameson had prohibited it, or his own mother. We thought it must be Mrs. Jameson, for Harry had a will of his own, as well as his mother, and was hardly the man to yield to her in a matter of this kind without a struggle.
Though Harry did not go to the Jameson house, I, for one, used to see two suspicious-looking figures steal past the house in the summer evenings; but I said nothing. There was a little grove on the north side of our house, and there was a bench under the trees. Often I used to see a white flutter out there of a moonlight evening, and I knew that Harriet Jameson had a little white cloak. Louisa saw it too, but we said nothing, though we more than suspected that Harriet must steal out of the house after her mother had gone to her room, which we knew was early. Hannah Bell must know if that were the case, but she kept their secret.
Louisa and I speculated as to what was our duty if we were witnessing clandestine meetings, but we could never bring our minds to say anything.
The night before the Jamesons left it was moonlight and there was a hard frost, and I saw those young things stealing down the road for their last stolen meeting, and I pitied them. I was afraid, too, that Harriet would take cold in the sharp air. I thought she had on a thin cloak. Then I did something which I never quite knew whether to blame myself for or not. It did seem to me that, if the girl were a daughter of mine, and would in any case have a clandestine meeting with her lover, I should prefer it to be in a warm house rather than in a grove on a frosty night. So I caught a shawl from the table, and ran out to the front door, and called.
“Harry!” said I, “is that you?” They started, and I suppose poor Harriet was horribly frightened; but I tried to speak naturally, and as if the two being there together were quite a matter of course.
“I wonder if it will be too much for me to ask of you,” said I, when Harry had responded quite boldly with a “Good-evening, Aunt Sophia”—he used to call me Aunt when he was a child, and still kept it up—“I wonder if it will be too much to ask if you two will just step in here a minute while I run down to Mrs. Jones’? I want to get a pattern to use the first thing in the morning. Louisa has gone to meeting, and I don’t like to leave Alice alone.”