Abigail looked at him with quick pity, but scarcely with full understanding. She could never lose, as completely as he, their daughter, through a lover. She had not to yield her to another of the same sex, and in that always the truest sting of jealousy lies.
“So far as that goes, it is no more than we had to expect, Eben,” she said. “You know that. I turned away from my parents for you.”
“I know it, Abigail, but—I thought, maybe, it wouldn’t come yet a while. I’ve done all I could. I bought her the little horse—she seemed real pleased with that, Abigail, you know. I thought, maybe, she would be contented a while here with us.”
“Eben Merritt, you don’t for a minute think that she can be anywhere but with us, for all this!”
“It’s the knowledge that she’s willing to be that comes hard,” said the Squire, piteously—“it’s that, Abigail.”
“I don’t know that she’s any too willing to,” returned Abigail, half laughing. “The principal thing that seems to trouble the child is that Jerome won’t come to see her. I rather think that if he would come to see her she would be perfectly contented.”
“And why can’t he come to see her, if she wants him to—will you tell me that?” cried the Squire, with sudden fervor.
“Eben Merritt, would you have the poor child getting to thinking more of him than she does, when he isn’t going to marry her?”
“And why isn’t he going to marry her, if she wants him? By the Lord Harry, Lucina shall have whoever she wants, if it’s a prince or a beggar! If that fellow has been coming here, and now—”
“Eben, listen to me and keep quiet!” cried Abigail, running at her great husband’s side, with a little, wiry, constraining hand on his arm, for the Squire had sprung from his seat and was tramping up and down in his rage that Lucina should be denied what she wanted, even though it were his own heart’s blood. “You know what I told you,” Abigail said. “Jerome is behaving well. You know he can’t marry Lucina—he hasn’t a penny.”
“Then I’ll give ’em pennies enough to marry on. The girl shall have whom she wants; I tell you that, Abigail.”
“How much have you got to give them until we are gone, even if Jerome would marry under such conditions; and I told you what he said to Lucina about it,” returned his wife, quietly.
“I’ll go to work myself, then,” shouted the Squire; “and as for the boy, he shall swallow his damned pride before he gives my girl an anxious hour. What is he, to say he will or will not, if she lifts her little finger? By the Lord Harry, he ought to go down on his face like a heathen when she looks at him!”
“Eben,” said Abigail, “will you listen to me? I tell you, Jerome is behaving as well as any young man can. I know he is, from what Lucina has told me. He loves her, and he is proving it by giving her up. You know that he cannot marry her unless he drags her into poverty, and you know how much you have to help them with. You know, too, good as Jerome is, and worthy of praise for what he has done, that Lucina ought to do better than marry him.”