“I don’t mean Mis’ Durgin. I shouldn’t care what she thought of my talkin’ him over with you. I don’t know,” he continued, putting up his hand against the door-frame, to give himself the comfort of its support while he talked, “as you understood what she mean by the young ladies at Boston keepin’ up with the fellows in college. Well, that’s what Cynthy’s doin’ with Jeff, right along; and if he ever works off them conditions of his, and gits his degree, it’ ll be because she helped him to. I tell you, there’s more than one kind of telepathy in this world, Mr. Westover. That’s all.”
Westover understood from Whitwell’s afterthought that it was Cynthia he was anxious to keep ignorant of his misgivings, if they were so much as misgivings. But the importance of this fact could not stay him against the tide of sleep which was bearing him down. When his head touched the pillow it swept over him, and he rose from it in the morning with a gayety of heart which he knew to be returning health. He jumped out of bed, and stuffed some shavings into his stove from the wood-box beside it, and laid some logs on them; he slid the damper open, and then lay down again, listening to the fire that showed its red teeth through the slats and roared and laughed to the day which sparkled on the white world without. When he got out of bed a second time, he found the room so hot that he had to pull down his window-sash, and he dressed in a temperature of twenty degrees below zero without knowing that the dry air was more than fresh. Mrs. Durgin called to him through the open door of her parlor, as he entered the dining-room: “Cynthy will give you your breakfast, Mr. Westover. We’re all done long ago, and I’m busy in here,” and the girl appeared with the coffee-pot and the dishes she had been keeping hot for him at the kitchen stove. She seemed to be going to leave him when she had put them down before him, but she faltered, and then she asked: “Do you want I should pour your coffee for you?”
“Oh yes! Do!” he begged, and she sat down across the table from him. “I’m ashamed to make this trouble for you,” he added. “I didn’t know it was so late.”
“Oh, we have the whole day for our work,” she answered, tolerantly.
He laughed, and said: “How strange that seems! I suppose I shall get used to it. But in town we seem never to have a whole day for a day’s work; we always have to do part of it at night, or the next morning. Do you ever have a day here that’s too large a size for its work?”
“You can nearly always find something to do about a house,” she returned, evasively. “But the time doesn’t go the way it does in the summer.”
“Oh, I know how the country is in the winter,” he said. “I was brought up in the country.”
“I didn’t know that,” she said, and she gave him a stare of surprise before her eyes fell.