“Why not what?”
“Take me, then?”
“Well,” she said vaguely, “I’m too young.”
“’Twouldn’t help any. I want so much, Tom . . . you couldn’t give me all I want.”
He said, “What is it I couldn’t give you?”
“I don’t know, Tom . . . I want what other people have . . . experiences . . .”
At his bitter laugh, she was filled with pity for herself. “Is it so funny?” she asked. “I don’t care.”
“Whatever’s got into you, Ann?”
“I don’t know there’s anything got into me beyond I don’t want to grow old—and dry. . . .”
“I don’t see as you can help it any.”
But Anna was tipsy with youth: she swore she’d be dead before she was old.
“Why should I hush?” she asked. “It’s the truth.”
“It’s a lie, that’s what it is,” said Thomas.
“Do you hate me, Tom?” she said. And she sat looking steadily before her.
“I don’t know what’s got into you. You act so queer.”
“I want to be happy,” she whispered.
“Then . . . you can do as you like for all of me.”
But as they rode along in silence, wrapped in mist, she drew closer to him, all her reckless spirit gone. “There . . . you’ve made me cry,” she said, and put her hand, cold and moist, into his.
“Aren’t you going to kiss me, Tom?”
He slapped the reins bitterly across his horse’s back. “What’s the good of that?” he asked, in turn.
“Perhaps,” she said faintly, “there isn’t any. Oh, I don’t know . . . what’s the difference?”
And so they rode on in silence, with pale cheeks and strange thoughts.
MR. JEMINY BUILDS A HOUSE OUT OF BOXES
Mr. Jeminy liked to call on Mrs. Wicket, whose little cottage, at the edge of the village, on the way to Milford, had belonged to Eben Wicket for nearly fifty years. Now it belonged to the widow of Eben’s son, John. Mr. Jeminy remembered John Wicket as a boy in school. He was a rogue; his head was already so full of mischief, that it was impossible to teach him anything. So he was not much wiser when he left school, than when he entered it. However, Mr. Jeminy was satisfied with his instruction. “With more knowledge,” the old schoolmaster thought to himself, “he might do a great deal of harm in the world. So perhaps it is just as well for him to be ignorant.” And he consoled himself with this reflection.
A year later John Wicket ran away from home, taking with him the money which his father kept in a stone jug in the kitchen. Old Mr. Wicket refused to send after him. “I didn’t need the money,” he said, “and I don’t need him. Well, they’re both gone.”
But after a while, since his son was no longer there to plague him, he began to feel proud of him. “An out and out scamp,” he said, with relish. “Never seen the like.”