He looked into Fancy’s eyes. Misery of miseries!—guilt was written there still.
“Now, Fancy, you’ve not told me all!” said Dick, rather sternly for a quiet young man.
“O, don’t speak so cruelly! I am afraid to tell now! If you hadn’t been harsh, I was going on to tell all; now I can’t!”
“Come, dear Fancy, tell: come. I’ll forgive; I must,—by heaven and earth, I must, whether I will or no; I love you so!”
“Well, when I put my hand on the bridge, he touched it—”
“A scamp!” said Dick, grinding an imaginary human frame to powder.
“And then he looked at me, and at last he said, ’Are you in love with Dick Dewy?’ And I said, ‘Perhaps I am!’ and then he said, ’I wish you weren’t then, for I want to marry you, with all my soul.’”
“There’s a villain now! Want to marry you!” And Dick quivered with the bitterness of satirical laughter. Then suddenly remembering that he might be reckoning without his host: “Unless, to be sure, you are willing to have him,—perhaps you are,” he said, with the wretched indifference of a castaway.
“No, indeed I am not!” she said, her sobs just beginning to take a favourable turn towards cure.
“Well, then,” said Dick, coming a little to his senses, “you’ve been stretching it very much in giving such a dreadful beginning to such a mere nothing. And I know what you’ve done it for,—just because of that gipsy-party!” He turned away from her and took five paces decisively, as if he were tired of an ungrateful country, including herself. “You did it to make me jealous, and I won’t stand it!” He flung the words to her over his shoulder and then stalked on, apparently very anxious to walk to the remotest of the Colonies that very minute.
“O, O, O, Dick—Dick!” she cried, trotting after him like a pet lamb, and really seriously alarmed at last, “you’ll kill me! My impulses are bad—miserably wicked,—and I can’t help it; forgive me, Dick! And I love you always; and those times when you look silly and don’t seem quite good enough for me,—just the same, I do, Dick! And there is something more serious, though not concerning that walk with him.”
“Well, what is it?” said Dick, altering his mind about walking to the Colonies; in fact, passing to the other extreme, and standing so rooted to the road that he was apparently not even going home.
“Why this,” she said, drying the beginning of a new flood of tears she had been going to shed, “this is the serious part. Father has told Mr. Shiner that he would like him for a son-in-law, if he could get me;—that he has his right hearty consent to come courting me!”
“That is serious,” said Dick, more intellectually than he had spoken for a long time.