The young couple had not been long past when a stout, tall figure went hurriedly by with an angry flirt of skirts—short ones.
“Oh, dear, that is Mrs. Jameson!” cried Louisa.
We waited breathless. Harry and Harriet could have gone no farther than the grove, for in a very short time back they all came, Mrs. Jameson leading—almost pulling—along her daughter, and Harry pressing close at her side, with his arm half extended as if to protect his sweetheart. Mrs. Jameson kept turning and addressing him; we could hear the angry clearness of her voice, though we could not distinguish many words; and finally, when they were almost past we saw poor Harriet also turn to him, and we judged that she, as well as her mother, was begging him to go, for he directly caught her hand, gave it a kiss, said something which we almost caught, to the effect that she must not be afraid—he would take care that all came out right—and was gone.
“Oh, dear,” sighed Louisa, and I echoed her. I did pity the poor young things.
To our surprise, and also to our dismay, it was not long before we saw Mrs. Jameson hurrying back, and she turned in at our gate.
Louisa jumped and lighted the lamp, and I set the rocking-chair for Mrs. Jameson.
“No, I can’t sit down,” said she, waving her hand. “I am too much disturbed to sit down,” but even as she said that she did drop into the rocking-chair. Louisa said afterward that Mrs. Jameson was one who always would sit down during all the vicissitudes of life, no matter how hard she took them.
Mrs. Jameson was very much disturbed; we had never seen her calm superiority so shaken; it actually seemed as if she realized for once that she was not quite the peer of circumstances, as Louisa said.
“I wish to inquire if you have known long of this shameful clandestine love affair of my daughter’s?” said she, and Louisa and I were nonplussed. We did not know what to say. Luckily, Mrs. Jameson did not wait for an answer; she went on to pour her grievance into our ears, without even stopping to be sure whether they were sympathizing ones or not.
“My daughter cannot marry into one of these village families,” said she, without apparently the slightest consideration of the fact that we were a village family. “My daughter has been very differently brought up. I have other views for her; it is impossible; it must be understood at once that I will not have it.”
Mrs. Jameson was still talking, and Louisa and I listening with more of dismay than sympathy, when who should walk in but Caroline Liscom herself.
She did not knock—she never does; she opened the door with no warning whatsoever, and stood there.
Louisa turned pale, and I know I must have. I could not command my voice, though I tried hard to keep calm.
I said “Good-morning,” when it should have been “Good-evening,” and placed Alice’s little chair, in which she could not by any possibility sit, for Caroline.