“Right again. ‘Fear is more pain than is the pain it fears.’ Do you know who wrote that, Walter? It was Shakespeare. Was there any feeling or emotion or experience of the human heart that that wonderful man did not know? When you go home tell your mother I am proud of you.”
Walter did not tell her that, however; but he told her all the rest, and she sympathized with him and told him she was glad he had stood up for her and Faith, and she anointed his sore spots and rubbed cologne on his aching head.
“Are all mothers as nice as you?” asked Walter, hugging her. “You’re worth standing up for.”
Miss Cornelia and Susan were in the living room when Anne came downstairs, and listened to the story with much enjoyment. Susan in particular was highly gratified.
“I am real glad to hear he has had a good fight, Mrs. Dr. dear. Perhaps it may knock that poetry nonsense out of him. And I never, no, never could bear that little viper of a Dan Reese. Will you not sit nearer to the fire, Mrs. Marshall Elliott? These November evenings are very chilly.”
“Thank you, Susan, I’m not cold. I called at the manse before I came here and got quite warm—though I had to go to the kitchen to do it, for there was no fire anywhere else. The kitchen looked as if it had been stirred up with a stick, believe me. Mr. Meredith wasn’t home. I couldn’t find out where he was, but I have an idea that he was up at the Wests’. Do you know, Anne dearie, they say he has been going there frequently all the fall and people are beginning to think he is going to see Rosemary.”
“He would get a very charming wife if he married Rosemary,” said Anne, piling driftwood on the fire. “She is one of the most delightful girls I’ve ever known—truly one of the race of Joseph.”
“Ye—s—only she is an Episcopalian,” said Miss Cornelia doubtfully. “Of course, that is better than if she was a Methodist—but I do think Mr. Meredith could find a good enough wife in his own denomination. However, very likely there is nothing in it. It’s only a month ago that I said to him, ’You ought to marry again, Mr. Meredith.’ He looked as shocked as if I had suggested something improper. ’My wife is in her grave, Mrs. Elliott,’ he said, in that gentle, saintly way of his. ’I suppose so,’ I said, ’or I wouldn’t be advising you to marry again.’ Then he looked more shocked than ever. So I doubt if there is much in this Rosemary story. If a single minister calls twice at a house where there is a single woman all the gossips have it he is courting her.”
“It seems to me—if I may presume to say so—that Mr. Meredith is too shy to go courting a second wife,” said Susan solemnly.