‘To have what?’ David enquired as soon as the girl was out of hearing.
‘Suspicions,’ said Elizabeth mournfully. ’Spends a good deal of her time at the looking-glass. I think the other girls tell her and then that young Livingstone has been turning her head.’
‘Turning her head!’ he exclaimed.
‘Turning her head,’ she answered. ’He sat here the other day and deliberately told her that he had never seen such a complexion and such lovely hair.’
Elizabeth Brower mocked his accent with a show of contempt that feebly echoed my own emotions.
‘That’s the way o’ city folks, mother,’ said David.
‘It’s a bad way,’ she answered. ’I do not thank he ought to come here. Hope’s a child yet, and we mustn’t let her get notions.’
‘I’ll tell him not t’ come any more,’ said David, as he and Uncle Eb rose to go to their work.’
’I’m ‘fraid she ought not to go away to school for a year yet,’ said Elizabeth, a troubled look in her face.
‘Pshaw, mother! Ye can’t keep her under yer wing alwus,’ said he. ’Well, David, you know she is very young and uncommonly — ’ she hesitated.
‘Han’some,’ said he, ‘we might as well own up if she is our child.’
‘If she goes away,’ continued Elizabeth, ‘some of us ought t’ go with her.’
Then Uncle Eb and David went to their work in the fields and I to my own task That very evening they began to talk of renting the farm and going to town with the children.
I had a stent of cording wood that day and finished it before two o’clock Then I got my pole of mountain ash, made hook and line ready, dug some worms and went fishing. I cared not so much for the fishing as for the solitude of the woods. I had a bit of thing to do. In the thick timber there was a place where Tinkle brook began to hurry and break into murmurs on a pebble bar, as if its feet were tickled. A few more steps and it burst into a peal of laughter that lasted half the year as it tumbled over narrow shelves of rock into a foamy pool. Many a day I had sat fishing for hours at the little fall under a birch tree, among the brakes and moss. No ray of sunlight ever got to the dark water below me — the lair of many a big fish that had yielded to the temptation of my bait. Here I lay in the cool shade while a singular sort of heart sickness came over me. A wild partridge was beating his gong in the near woods all the afternoon. The sound of the water seemed to break in the tree-tops and fall back upon me. I had lain there thinking an hour or more when I caught the jar of approaching footsteps. Looking up I saw Jed Feary coming through the bushes, pole in hand.
‘Fishin’?’ he asked.
‘Only thinking,’ I answered.
‘Couldn’t be in better business,’ said he as he sat down beside me.
More than once he had been my father confessor and I was glad he had come.
‘In love?’ he asked. ‘No boy ever thinks unless he’s in love.’