Not caring to discuss the matter further, Eric left the kitchen. But as he mounted the stairs to his room he heard old Robert muttering, like a man in hopeless bewilderment,
“Well, I never heard anything like this in all my born days—never—never. Timothy, did you ever hear the like? Them Gordons are an unaccountable lot and no mistake. They couldn’t act like other people if they tried. I must wake mother up and tell her about this, or I’ll never be able to sleep.”
Now that everything was settled Eric wished to give up teaching and go back to his own place. True, he had “signed papers” to teach the school for a year; but he knew that the trustees would let him off if he procured a suitable substitute. He resolved to teach until the fall vacation, which came in October, and then go. Kilmeny had promised that their marriage should take place in the following spring. Eric had pleaded for an earlier date, but Kilmeny was sweetly resolute, and Thomas and Janet agreed with her.
“There are so many things that I must learn yet before I shall be ready to be married,” Kilmeny had said. “And I want to get accustomed to seeing people. I feel a little frightened yet whenever I see any one I don’t know, although I don’t think I show it. I am going to church with Uncle and Aunt after this, and to the Missionary Society meetings. And Uncle Thomas says that he will send me to a boarding school in town this winter if you think it advisable.”
Eric vetoed this promptly. The idea of Kilmeny in a boarding school was something that could not be thought about without laughter.
“I can’t see why she can’t learn all she needs to learn after she is married to me, just as well as before,” he grumbled to her uncle and aunt.
“But we want to keep her with us for another winter yet,” explained Thomas Gordon patiently. “We are going to miss her terrible when she does go, Master. She has never been away from us for a day—she is all the brightness there is in our lives. It is very kind of you to say that she can come home whenever she likes, but there will be a great difference. She will belong to your world and not to ours. That is for the best—and we wouldn’t have it otherwise. But let us keep her as our own for this one winter yet.”
Eric yielded with the best grace he could muster. After all, he reflected, Lindsay was not so far from Queenslea, and there were such things as boats and trains.
“Have you told your father about all this yet?” asked Janet anxiously.
No, he had not. But he went home and wrote a full account of his summer to old Mr. Marshall that night.
Mr. Marshall, Senior, answered the letter in person. A few days later, Eric, coming home from school, found his father sitting in Mrs. Williamson’s prim, fleckless parlour. Nothing was said about Eric’s letter, however, until after tea. When they found themselves alone, Mr. Marshall said abruptly,