“O, I don’t want him like that; all against your will, and everything so disobedient!” sighed the invalid.
“No, no, ’tisn’t against my will. My wish is, now I d’see how ’tis hurten thee to live without en, that he shall marry thee as soon as we’ve considered a little. That’s my wish flat and plain, Fancy. There, never cry, my little maid! You ought to ha’ cried afore; no need o’ crying now ’tis all over. Well, howsoever, try to step over and see me and mother-law to-morrow, and ha’ a bit of dinner wi’ us.”
“Ay, Dick too, ’far’s I know.”
“And when do you think you’ll have considered, father, and he may marry me?” she coaxed.
“Well, there, say next Midsummer; that’s not a day too long to wait.”
On leaving the school Geoffrey went to the tranter’s. Old William opened the door.
“Is your grandson Dick in ’ithin, William?”
“No, not just now, Mr. Day. Though he’ve been at home a good deal lately.”
“O, how’s that?”
“What wi’ one thing, and what wi’ t’other, he’s all in a mope, as might be said. Don’t seem the feller he used to. Ay, ’a will sit studding and thinking as if ’a were going to turn chapel-member, and then do nothing but traypse and wamble about. Used to be such a chatty boy, too, Dick did; and now ’a don’t speak at all. But won’t ye step inside? Reuben will be home soon, ’a b’lieve.”
“No, thank you, I can’t stay now. Will ye just ask Dick if he’ll do me the kindness to step over to Yalbury to-morrow with my da’ter Fancy, if she’s well enough? I don’t like her to come by herself, now she’s not so terrible topping in health.”
“So I’ve heard. Ay, sure, I’ll tell him without fail.”
The visit to Geoffrey passed off as delightfully as a visit might have been expected to pass off when it was the first day of smooth experience in a hitherto obstructed love-course. And then came a series of several happy days, of the same undisturbed serenity. Dick could court her when he chose; stay away when he chose,—which was never; walk with her by winding streams and waterfalls and autumn scenery till dews and twilight sent them home. And thus they drew near the day of the Harvest Thanksgiving, which was also the time chosen for opening the organ in Mellstock Church.
It chanced that Dick on that very day was called away from Mellstock. A young acquaintance had died of consumption at Charmley, a neighbouring village, on the previous Monday, and Dick, in fulfilment of a long-standing promise, was to assist in carrying him to the grave. When on Tuesday, Dick went towards the school to acquaint Fancy with the fact, it is difficult to say whether his own disappointment at being denied the sight of her triumphant debut as organist, was greater than his vexation that his pet should on this great occasion be deprived of the pleasure of his presence. However, the intelligence was communicated. She bore it as she best could, not without many expressions of regret, and convictions that her performance would be nothing to her now.