“Don’t be in a hurry, child, and don’t let anybody choose for you,” he ran on. “Peggy and I didn’t make any mistakes—and don’t you. Now this young son of Parker Willits’s”—here his wrinkled face tightened up into a pucker as if he had just bitten into an unripe persimmon—“good enough young man, may be; goin’ to be something great, I reckon—in Mr. Taney’s office, I hear, or will be next winter. I ’spect he’ll keep out of jail—most Willitses do—but keep an eye on him and watch him, and watch yo’self too. That’s more important still. The cemetery is a long ways off when you marry the wrong man, child. And that other fellow that Peggy tells me has been co’tin’ you—Talbot Rutter’s boy—he’s a wild one,. isn’t he?—drunk half the time and fightin’ everybody who don’t agree with him. Come pretty nigh endin’ young Willits, so they say. Now I hear he’s run away to sea and left all his debts behind. Talbot turned him neck and heels out of doors when he found it out, so they tell me—and served the scapegrace right. Don’t be in a hurry, child. Right man will come bime-by. Just the same with Peggy till I come along —there she is now, bless her sweet heart! Peggy, you darlin’—I got so lonely for you I just had to ’journ co’t. I’ve been telling Lady Kate that she mustn’t be in a hurry to get married till she finds somebody that will make her as happy as you and me.” Here the judge slipped his arm around Peggy’s capacious waist and the two crossed the pasture as the nearest way to the house.
Kate kept on her way alone.
Her only reply to the garrulous judge had been one of her rippling laughs, but it was the laughter of bubbles with the sediment lying deep in the bottom of the glass.
But all outings must come to an end. And so when the marsh grass on the lowlands lay in serried waves of dappled satin, and the corn on the uplands was waist high and the roses a mob of beauty, Kate threw her arms around Peggy and kissed her over and over again, her whole heart flowing through her lips; and then the judge got his good-by on his wrinkled cheek, and the children on any clean spot which she found on their molasses-covered faces; and then the cavalcade took up its line of march for the boat-landing, Willits going as far as the wharf, where he and Kate had a long talk in low tones, in which he seemed to be doing all the talking and she all the listening—“But nuthin’ mo’n jes’ a han’shake” (so Todd told St. George), “he lookin’ like he wanter eat her up an’ she kinder sayin’ dat de cake ain’t brown ’nough yit fur tastin’—but one thing I know fo’ sho’—an’ dat is she didn’t let ’im kiss ‘er. I wuz leadin’ his horse pas’ whar dey wuz standin’, an’ de sorrel varmint got cuttin’ up an’ I kep’ him prancin’ till Mister Willits couldn’t stay wid her no longer. Drat dat red-haided—”
“Stop, Todd—be careful—you mustn’t speak that way of Mr. Willits.”