“That’s all very well, but how do you suppose the tree feels?” said the Squire, hotly.
“Not bein’ a tree, an’ never havin’ been a tree, so’s to remember it, I ain’t able to say,” returned the old man, in a dry voice; “but, mebbe, lookin’ at it on general principles, it ain’t no more painful for a tree to be cut down into a railroad-sleeper than it is for a man to be cut down into an angel.”
John Jennings laughed.
“You’d make a good lawyer on the defence,” said the Squire, good-naturedly, “but, by the Lord Harry, if all the trees of the earth were mine, men might live in tents and travel in caravans till doomsday for all I’d cut one down!”
The Colonel and Jennings did not go into the mill, but they nodded and sang out good-naturedly to Jerome as they passed. He could not leave—he had an extra man to feed the saw that day, and had been rushing matters since daybreak—but he looked out at them with a radiant face from his noisy interior, full of the crude light of fresh lumber and sawdust.
The Squire’s friendly notice had pleased his very soul.
“That’s a smart boy,” panted the Colonel, when they had passed.
“Yes, sir; he’s the smartest boy in this town,” assented the Squire, with a nod of enthusiasm.
Not long after they emerged from the woods into the
road they reached
Jennings’s house, and he left his friends.
The Colonel lived some quarter of a mile farther on. He had reached his gate, when he said, abruptly, to the Squire, “Look here, Eben, you remember a talk we had once about Jerome Edwards and your girl?”
The Squire stared at him. “Yes; why?”
“Nothing, only seeing him just now set me to wondering if you were still of the same mind about it.”
“If being willing that Lucina should have the man she sets her heart on is the same mind, of course I am; but, good Lord, Jack, that’s all over! He hasn’t been to the house for a year, and Lucina never thinks of him!”
Colonel Lamson laughed wheezily. “Well, that’s all I wanted to know, Eben.”
“What made you ask me that?” asked the Squire, suspiciously.
“Nothing; seeing Jerome and his mill brought it to mind. Well, I’ll be along to-night.”
“That’s all over,” the Squire called out again to the Colonel, going slowly up the hill to the house door. However, when he got home, he questioned Abigail.
“I haven’t heard Lucina mention Jerome Edwards’s name for months,” said she, “and he never comes here; but she seems perfectly contented and happy. I think that’s all over.”
“I thought so,” said Eben.
Abigail was preparing the punch, for the Squire expected his friends that evening. Jennings came first; some time after Means and Lamson arrived. They had a strange air of grave excitement and elation.
When the game of cards was fairly under way, the Colonel played in a manner which confused them all.