“She may think he means more than he does, girls are so silly,” he said. He did not class Lucina Merritt among girls.
That Sunday night, after dark, though he was resolved not to visit Lucina, he strolled up the road, past her house. There was no light in the parlor. “She doesn’t expect me, after all,” he thought, but with a great pang of disappointment rather than relief. He judged such proceedings from the rustic standpoint. Always in Upham, when a girl expected a young man to come to spend an evening with her, she lighted the best parlor and entertained him there in isolation from the rest of her family. He did not know how different a training in such respects Lucina had had. She never thought, since he was not her avowed lover, of sequestering herself with him in the best parlor. She would have been too proudly and modestly fearful as to what he might think of her, and she of herself, and her parents of them both. She expected, as a matter of course, to invite him into the sitting-room, where were her father and mother and Colonel Jack Lamson.
However, she permitted herself a little innocent manoeuvre, whereby she might gain a few minutes of special converse with him without the presence of her elders. A little before dusk Lucina seated herself on the front door-step. Her mother brought presently a little shawl and feared lest she take cold, but Lucina said she should not remain there long, and there was no wind and no dampness.
Lucina felt uneasy lest she be deceiving her mother, but she could not bring herself to tell her, though she did not fairly know why, that she expected a caller.
The dusk gathered softly, like the shadow of brooding wings. She thought Jerome must come very soon. She could just see a glimmer of white road through the trees, and she watched that eagerly, never taking her eyes from it. Now and then she heard an approaching footstep, and a black shadow slanted athwart the road. Her heart sank, though she wondered at it, when that happened.
When Jerome came up the road she made sure at once that it was he. She even stirred to greet him, but after an indefinable pause he passed on also; then she thought she had been mistaken.
He saw the flutter of pale drapery on the door-step, but never dreamed that Lucina was actually there watching for him. After a while he went back. Lucina, who was still sitting there, saw him again, but this time did not stir, since he was going the other way.
When, at half-past eight, she saw the people from the evening prayer-meeting passing on the road, she made sure that Jerome would not come that night.
She gave a soft sigh, leaned her head back against the fluted door-post, and tried to recall every word he had said to her, and every word she had said to him, about his coming. She began to wonder if she had possibly not been cordial enough, if she could have made him fear he would not be welcome. She repeated over and over, trying to imagine him in her place as listener, all she had said to him. She gave it the furthest inflections of graciousness and coolness of which she could have been capable, and puzzled sorely as to which she had used.