“Oh, indeed, the docta thinks she wants a little lookin’ after, too,” said Mrs. Lander.
“Well, about as much as you do, Mrs. Lander,” Hinkle allowed, tolerantly. “I don’t know how it affects you, ma’am, such a meeting of friends in these strange waters, but it’s building me right up. It’s made another man of me, already, and I’ve got the other man’s appetite, too. Mind my letting him have his breakfast here with me at your table?” He bade the waiter just fetch his plate. He attached himself to them; he spent the day with them. Mrs. Lander asked him to dinner at her lodgings, and left him to Clementina over the coffee.
“She’s looking fine, doesn’t the doctor think? This air will do everything for her.”
“Oh, yes; she’s a great deal betta than she was befo’e we came.”
“That’s right. Well, now, you’ve got me here, you must let me make myself useful any way I can. I’ve got a spare month that I can put in here in Venice, just as well as not; I sha’n’t want to push north till the frost’s out of the ground. They wouldn’t have a chance to try my gleaner, on the other side of the Alps much before September, anyway. Now, in Ohio, the part I come from, we cut our wheat in June. When is your wheat harvest at Middlemount?”
Clementina laughed. “I don’t believe we’ve got any. I guess it’s all grass.”
“I wish you could see our country out there, once.”
“Is it nice?”
“Nice? We’re right in the centre of the state, measuring from north to south, on the old National Road.” Clementina had never heard of this road, but she did not say so. “About five miles back from the Ohio River, where the coal comes up out of the ground, because there’s so much of it there’s no room for it below. Our farm’s in a valley, along a creek bottom, what you Yankees call an intervals; we’ve got three hundred acres. My grandfather took up the land, and then he went back to Pennsylvania to get the girl he’d left there—we were Pennsylvania Dutch; that’s where I got my romantic name—they drove all the way out to Ohio again in his buggy, and when he came in sight of our valley with his bride, he stood up in his buggy and pointed with his whip. ’There! As far as the sky is blue, it’s all ours!’”
Clementina owned the charm of his story as he seemed to expect, but when he said, “Yes, I want you to see that country, some day,” she answered cautiously.
“It must be lovely. But I don’t expect to go West, eva.”
“I like your Eastern way of saying everr,” said Hinkle, and he said it in his Western way. “I like New England folks.”