‘Cur’us talk!’ he said, one evening, as I paused a moment, while he crossed the room for a drink of water. ‘Don’ seem t’ make no kind O’ sense. I can make out a word here ’n there but fer good, sound, common sense I call it a purty thin crop.’
Hope wrote me every week for a time. A church choir had offered her a place soon after she went to the big city. She came home intending to surprise us all, the first summer but unfortunately, I had gone away in the woods with a party of surveyors and missed her. We were a month in the wilderness and came out a little west of Albany where I took a boat for New York to see Hope. I came down the North River between the great smoky cities, on either side of it, one damp and chilly morning. The noise, the crowds, the immensity of the town appalled me. At John Fuller’s I found that Hope had gone home and while they tried to detain me longer I came back on the night boat of the same day. Hope and I passed each other in that journey and I did not see her until the summer preceding my third and last year in college — the faculty having allowed me to take two years in one. Her letters had come less frequently and when she came I saw a grand young lady of fine manners, her beauty shaping to an ampler mould, her form straightening to the dignity of womanhood.
At the depot our hands were cold and trembling with excitement — neither of us, I fancy, knowing quite how far to go in our greeting. Our correspondence had been true to the promise made her mother - there had not been a word of love in it — only now and then a suggestion of our tender feeling. We hesitated only for the briefest moment. Then I put my arm about her neck and kissed her.
‘I am so glad to see you,’ she said.
Well, she was charming and beautiful, but different, and probably not more different than was I. She was no longer the laughing, simple-mannered child of Faraway, whose heart was as one’s hand before him in the daylight. She had now a bit of the woman’s reserve — her prudence, her skill in hiding the things of the heart. I loved her more than ever, but somehow I felt it hopeless — that she had grown out of my life. She was much in request among the people of Hillsborough, and we went about a good deal and had many callers. But we had little time to ourselves. She seemed to avoid that, and had much to say of the grand young men who came to call on her in the great city. Anyhow it all hurt me to the soul and even robbed me of my sleep. A better lover than I would have made an end of dallying and got at the truth, come what might. But I was of the Puritans, and not of the Cavaliers, and my way was that which God had marked for me, albeit I must own no man had ever a keener eye for a lovely woman or more heart to please her. A mighty pride had come to me and I had rather have thrown my heart to vultures than see it an unwelcome offering. And I was quite out of courage with Hope; she, I dare say, was as much out of patience with me.