‘You have not heard,’ said Mrs Fuller addressing me, ’how Mr Trumbull saved Hope’s life.’
‘Saved Hope’s life!’ I exclaimed.
‘Saved her life,’ she repeated, ’there isn’t a doubt of it. We never sent word of it for fear it would give you all needless worry. It was a day of last winter — fell crossing Broadway, a dangerous place’ he pulled her aside just in time — the horse’s feet were raised above her — she would have been crushed in a moment He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the sidewalk not a bit the worse for it.
‘Seems as if it were fate,’ said Hope. ’I had seen him so often and wondered who he was. I recall a night when I had to come home alone from rehearsal. I was horribly afraid. I remember passing him under a street lamp. If he had spoken to me, then, I should have dropped with fear and he would have had to carry me home that time.
’It’s an odd thing a girl like you should ever have to walk home alone,’ said Mr Fuller. ’Doesn’t speak well for our friend Livingstone or Burnham there or Dobbs.
‘Mrs Fuller doesn’t give us half a chance,’ said Livingstone, ’she guards her day and night. It’s like the monks and the Holy Grail.
‘Hope is independent of the young men,’ said Mrs Fuller as we rose from the table. ’If I cannot go with her myself, in the carriage, I always send a maid or a manservant to walk home with her. But Mr Fuller and I were out of town that night and the young men missed their great opportunity.
‘Had a differ’nt way o’ sparkin’ years ago,’ said Uncle Eb. ’Didn’t never hev if please anybody but the girl then. If ye liked a girl ye went an’ sot up with her an’ gin her a smack an’ tol’ her right out plain an’ square what ye wanted. An’ thet settled it one way er t’ other. An’ her mother she step’ in the next room with the door half-open an’ never paid no ‘tention. Recollec’ one col’night when I was sparkin’ the mother hollered out o’ bed, “Lucy, hev ye got anythin ‘round ye?” an’ she hollered back, “Yis, mother,” an’ she hed too but ‘twan’t nothin’ but my arm.’
They laughed merrily, over the quaint reminiscence of my old friend and the quainter way he had of telling it. The rude dialect of the backwoodsman might have seemed oddly out of place, there, but for the quiet, unassuming manner and the fine old face of Uncle Eb in which the dullest eye might see the soul of a gentleman.
‘What became of Lucy?’ Mr Fuller enquired, laughingly. ’You never married her.’
‘Lucy died,’ he answered soberly; ‘thet was long, long ago.’
Then he went away with John Trumbull to the smoking-room where I found them, talking earnestly in a corner, when it was time to go to the church with Hope.
Hope and Uncle Eb and I went away in a coach with Mrs Fuller. There was a great crowd in the church that covered, with sweeping arches, an interior more vast than any I had ever entered. Hope was gowned in white silk, a crescent of diamonds in her hair — a birthday gift from Mrs Fuller; her neck and a part of her full breast unadorned by anything save the gifts of God — their snowy whiteness, their lovely curves.