Lawrence Prescott never asked her to ride with him in those days. Lucina in her blue habit, with a long blue plume wound round her hat and floating behind in the golden blowing of her curls, on her pretty white horse, and the great booted Squire on his sorrel, to her side, reined back with an ugly strain on the bits, were a frequent spectacle for admiration on the county roads. No other girl in Upham rode.
It was one day when she was out riding with her father that Lucina made her opportunity to speak with Jerome. Now she had her horse, Jerome was finding it harder to avoid the sight of her. The night before, returning from Dale by moonlight, he had heard the quick tramp of horses’ feet behind him, and had had a glimpse of Lucina and her father when they passed. Lucina turned in her saddle, and her moon-white face looked over her shoulder at Jerome. She nodded; Jerome made a stiff inclination, holding himself erect under his load of shoes. Lucina was too shy to ask her father to stop that she might speak to Jerome. However, before they reached home she said to her father, in a sweet little contained voice, “Does he go to Dale every night, father?”
“Who?” said the Squire.
“No, I guess not every day; not more than once in three days, when the shoes are finished. He told me so, if I remember rightly.”
“It is a long walk,” said Lucina.
“It won’t hurt a young fellow like him,” the Squire said, laughing; but he gave a curious look at his daughter. “What set you thinking about that, Pretty?” he asked.
“We passed him back there, didn’t we, father?”
“Sure enough, guess we did,” said the Squire, and they trotted on over the moonlit road.
“Looks just like the back of that dapple-gray I had when you were a little girl, Pretty,” said the Squire, pointing with his whip at the net-work of lights and shadows.
He never thought of any significance in the fact that for the two following days Lucina preferred riding in the morning in another direction, and on the third day preferred riding after sundown on the road to Dale. He also thought nothing of it that they passed Jerome Edwards again, and that shortly afterwards Lucina professed herself tired of riding so fast, though it had not been fast for him, and reined her little white horse into a walk. The sorrel plunged and jerked his head obstinately when the Squire tried to reduce his pace also.
“Please ride on, father,” said Lucina; her voice sounded like a little silver flute through the Squire’s bass whoas.
“And leave you? I guess not. Whoa, Dick; whoa, can’t ye!”
“Please, father, Dick frightens me when he does so.”
“Can’t you ride a little faster, Pretty? Whoa, I tell ye!”
“In just a minute, father, I’ll catch up with you. Oh, father, please! Suppose Dick should frighten Fanny, and make her run, I could never hold her. Please, father!”