She told him that there was to be a reaping frolic in their neighborhood in a few days, and that if he would attend it, she would show him one of the prettiest girls upon whom he ever fixed his eyes. Difficult as he found it to shut out from his mind his lost love, upon whom his thoughts were dwelling by day and by night, he very wisely decided that his best remedy would be found in what Dr. Chalmers calls “the expulsive power of a new affection;” that is, that he would try and fall in love with some other girl as soon as possible. His own language, in describing his feelings at that time, is certainly very different from that which the philosopher or the modern novelist would have used, but it is quite characteristic of the man. The Dutch maiden assured him that the girl who had deceived him was not to be compared in beauty with the one she would show to him. He writes:
“I didn’t believe a word of all this, for I had thought that such a piece of flesh and blood as she had never been manufactured, and never would again. I agreed with her that the little varmint had treated me so bad that I ought to forget her, and yet I couldn’t do it. I concluded that the best way to accomplish it was to cut out again, and see if I could find any other that would answer me; and so I told the Dutch girl that I would be at the reaping, and would bring as many as I could with me.”
David seems at this time to have abandoned all constant industry, and to be loafing about with his rifle, thus supporting himself with the game he took. He traversed the still but slightly broken forest in all directions, carrying to many scattered farm-houses intelligence of the approaching reaping frolic. He informed the good Quaker with whom he had worked of his intention to be there. Mr. Kennedy endeavored to dissuade him. He said that there would be much bad company there; that there would be drinking and carousing, and that David had been so good a boy that he should be very sorry to have him get a bad name.
The curiosity of the impetuous young man was, however, by this time, too much aroused for any persuasions to hold him back. Shouldering his rifle, he hastened to the reaping at the appointed day. Upon his arrival at the place he found a large company already assembled. He looked around for the pretty girl, but she was nowhere to be seen. She chanced to be in a shed frolicking with some others of the young people.
But as David, with his rifle on his shoulder, sauntered around, an aged Irish woman, full of nerve and volubility, caught sight of him. She was the mother of the girl, and had been told of the object of David’s visit. He must have appeared very boyish, for he had not yet entered his eighteenth year, and though very wiry and athletic, he was of slender frame, and rather small in stature.
The Irish woman hastened to David; lavished upon him compliments respecting his rosy cheeks, and assured him that she had exactly such a sweet heart for him as he needed. She did not allow, David to have any doubt that she would gladly welcome him as the husband of her daughter.