The Squire had small choice, for the sorrel gave a fierce plunge ahead and almost bolted. “Follow as fast as you can, Pretty!” he shouted back.
There was a curve in the road just ahead, the Squire was out of sight around it in a flash. Lucina reined her horse in, and waited as motionless as a little equestrian statue. She did not look around for a moment or two—she hoped Jerome would overtake her without that. A strange terror was over her, but he did not.
Finally she looked. He was coming very slowly; he scarcely seemed to move, and was yet quite a distance behind. “I can’t wait,” Lucina thought, piteously. She turned her horse and rode back to him. He stopped when she came alongside. “Good-evening,” said she, tremulously.
“Good-evening,” said Jerome. He made such an effort to speak that his voice sounded like a harsh trumpet.
Lucina forgot her pretty little speech. “I wanted to say that I was sorry if I offended you,” she said, faintly.
Jerome had no idea what she meant; he could, indeed, scarcely take in, until later, thinking of them, the sense of her words. He tried to speak, but made only an inarticulate jumble of sounds.
“I hope you will pardon me,” said Lucina.
Jerome fairly gasped. He bowed again, stiffly.
Lucina said no more. She rode on to join her father. That night, after she had gone to bed, she cried a long while. She reflected how she had never even referred to the matter in question, in her suit for pardon.
Lucina in those days was occupied with some pieces of embroidery in gay wools on cloth. There were varied designs of little dogs with bead eyes, baskets of flowers, wreaths, and birds on sprays. She had an ambition to embroider a whole set of parlor-chairs, as some young ladies in her school had done, and there was in her mind a dim and scarcely admitted fancy that these same chairs might add state to some future condition of hers.
Lucina had always innocently taken it for granted that she should some day be married and have a house of her own, and very near her father’s. When she had begun the embroidery she had furnished a shadowy little parlor of a shadowy house with the fine chairs, and admitted at the parlor door a dim and stately presence, so shadowy to her timid maiden fancy that there was scarcely a suggestion of substance.
Now, however, the shadow seemed to deepen and clear in outline. Lucina fell to wondering if Jerome Edwards thought embroidered chairs pretty or silly. Often she would pause in her counting and setting even cross-barred stitches, lean her soft cheek on her slender white hand, and sit so a long while, with her fair curls drooping over her gentle, brooding face. Her mother often noticed her sitting so, and thought, partly from quick maternal intuition, partly from knowledge gained from her own experience,