We came into Hillsborough at noon the day before Christmas. Father and Uncle Eb met us at the depot and mother stood waving her handkerchief at the door as we drove up. And when we were done with our greetings and were standing, damp eyed, to warm ourselves at the fire, Uncle Eb brought his palms together with a loud whack and said:
’Look here, Liz beth Brower! I want if hev ye tell me if ye ever see a likelier pair o’ colts.
She laughed as she looked at us. In a moment she ran her hand down the side of Hope’s gown. Then she lifted a fold of the cloth and felt of it thoughtfully.
‘How much was that a yard?’ she asked a dreamy look in her eyes. ‘Wy! w’y!’ she continued as Hope told her the sum. ’Terrible steep! but it does fit splendid! Oughter wear well too! Wish ye’d put that on if ye go t’ church nex’ Sunday.
‘O mother!’ said Hope, laughing, ’I’ll wear my blue silk.
’Come boys ‘n girls,’ said Elizabeth suddenly, ’dinner’s all ready in the other room.
‘Beats the world!’ said Uncle Eb, as we sat down at the table. ’Ye do look gran’ if me — ree-markable gran’, both uv ye. Tek a premium at any fair — ye would sartin.’
‘Has he won yer affections?’ said David laughing as he looked over at Hope.
‘He has,’ said she solemnly.
‘Affections are a sing’lar kind o’ prop’ty,’ said Uncle Eb. ’Hain’t good fer nuthin till ye’ve gin em away. Then, like as not, they git very valyble.
‘Good deal that way with money too,’ said Elizabeth Brower.
‘I recollec’ when Hope was a leetle bit uv a girl’ said Uncle Eb, ’she used if say ‘et when she got married she was goin’ if hev her husban’ rub my back fer me when it was lame.
‘I haven’t forgotten it,’ said Hope, ’and if you will all come you will make us happier.
‘Good many mouths if feed!’ Uncle Ebb remarked.
‘I could take in sewing and help some,’ said Elizabeth Brower, as she sipped her tea.
There was a little quiver in David’s under lip as he looked over at her. ‘You ain’t able t’ do hard work any more, mother,’ said he. ‘She won’t never hev to nuther,’ said Uncle Eb. ’Don’t never pay if go bookin’ fer trouble — it stew easy if find. There ain’ no sech thing ’s trouble ’n this world ’less ye look for it. Happiness won’t hey nuthin if dew with a man thet likes trouble. Minnit a man stops lookin’ fer trouble happiness ’II look fer him. Things came puny nigh’s ye like ’em here ‘n this world — hot er cold er only middlin’. Ye can either laugh er cry er fight er fish er go if meetin’. If ye don’t like erry one you can fin fault. I’m on the lookout fer happiness — suits me best, someway, an don’t hurt my feelin’s a bit.
‘Ev’ry day’s a kind uv a circus day with you, Holden,’ said David Brower. ‘Alwuss hevin’ a good time. Ye can hev more fun with yerseif ‘n any man I ever see.’