And as I was sitting there, with the bits of ribbons and things in my lap, unpicking the lining of the bonnet, I heard the back door open, and thinking it was one of the men bringing in wood, maybe, I didn’t turn my head, and next minute there was Master Harry had got his hand under my chin and holding my head back, and was kissing me as if he never meant to stop.
‘Lor bless you, Master Harry,’ says I, as soon as I could push him away, dropping all the ribbons and scissors and things in my flurry, ’how could you fashion to behave so? And me alone in the house! I thought you had better sense.’
‘Don’t be cross, Polly,’ says he, smiling at me till I could have forgiven him much more than that, and going down on his knees to pick up my bits of rubbish. ’You know well enough who my choice is. I haven’t lived in the house with you six months without finding out there’s only one girl as I should like to keep my house to the end of the chapter.’
He had that took me by surprise that I give you my word that for a minute or two I couldn’t say anything, but sat looking like a fool and taking the ribbons and things from his hands as he picked them up.
When I come to my senses I said, ’I don’t know what maggot has bit you, sir, to think of such nonsense. What would the master say, and Mrs. Blake and all?’
Well, he got up off his knees and walked up and down the kitchen twice in a pretty fume, and he said a bad word about what Mrs. Blake might say that I’m not going to write down here.
‘And as for my father,’ says he, ’I know he’s ideas above what’s fitting for farmer folk, but I know best what’s the right choice for me, and if you won’t mind me not telling him, and will wait for me patient, and will give me a kind word and a kiss on a Sunday, so to say, you and me will be happy together, and you shall be mistress of the farm when the poor old dad’s time comes to go. Not that I wish his time nearer by an hour, for all I love you so dear, Polly.’
And I hope I did what was right, though it was with a sore heart, for I said—
‘I couldn’t stay on in your folks’ house to have secret understandings with you, Master Harry. That ain’t to be thought of. But I do say this—’tain’t likely that I shall marry any other chap; and if, when you come to be master of Charleston, you are in the same mind, why you can speak your mind to me again, and I’ll listen to you then with a freer heart, maybe, than I can to-day.’
And with that I bundled all my odds and ends into the dresser drawer, and took the kettle off, which was a-boiling over.
‘And now,’ I says, ’no more of this talk, if you and me is to keep friends.’
‘Shake hands on it,’ says he; ’you’re a good girl, Polly, and I see more than ever what a lucky man I shall be the day I go to church with you; and I’ll not say another word till I can say it afore all the world, with you to answer “Yes” for all the world to hear.’