“Oh, there’s no doubt the notion was hatched in Faith Meredith’s brain,” said Miss Cornelia. “And I don’t say that I’m sorry that Amos Drew’s old pigs did get their come-uppance for once. But the minister’s daughter!”
“And the doctor’s son!” said Anne, mimicking Miss Cornelia’s tone. Then she laughed. “Dear Miss Cornelia, they’re only little children. And you know they’ve never yet done anything bad—they’re just heedless and impulsive—as I was myself once. They’ll grow sedate and sober—as I’ve done.”
Miss Cornelia laughed, too.
“There are times, Anne dearie, when I know by your eyes that your soberness is put on like a garment and you’re really aching to do something wild and young again. Well, I feel encouraged. Somehow, a talk with you always does have that effect on me. Now, when I go to see Barbara Samson, it’s just the opposite. She makes me feel that everything’s wrong and always will be. But of course living all your life with a man like Joe Samson wouldn’t be exactly cheering.”
“It is a very strange thing to think that she married Joe Samson after all her chances,” remarked Susan. “She was much sought after when she was a girl. She used to boast to me that she had twenty-one beaus and Mr. Pethick.”
“What was Mr. Pethick?”
“Well, he was a sort of hanger-on, Mrs. Dr. dear, but you could not exactly call him a beau. He did not really have any intentions. Twenty-one beaus—and me that never had one! But Barbara went through the woods and picked up the crooked stick after all. And yet they say her husband can make better baking powder biscuits than she can, and she always gets him to make them when company comes to tea.”
“Which reminds me that I have company coming to tea to-morrow and I must go home and set my bread,” said Miss Cornelia. “Mary said she could set it and no doubt she could. But while I live and move and have my being I set my own bread, believe me.”
“How is Mary getting on?” asked Anne.
“I’ve no fault to find with Mary,” said Miss Cornelia rather gloomily. “She’s getting some flesh on her bones and she’s clean and respectful—though there’s more in her than I can fathom. She’s a sly puss. If you dug for a thousand years you couldn’t get to the bottom of that child’s mind, believe me! As for work, I never saw anything like her. She eats it up. Mrs. Wiley may have been cruel to her, but folks needn’t say she made Mary work. Mary’s a born worker. Sometimes I wonder which will wear out first—her legs or her tongue. I don’t have enough to do to keep me out of mischief these days. I’ll be real glad when school opens, for then I’ll have something to do again. Mary doesn’t want to go to school, but I put my foot down and said that go she must. I shall not have the Methodists saying that I kept her out of school while I lolled in idleness.”