“He isn’t shy, believe me,” retorted Miss Cornelia. “Absent-minded,—yes—but shy, no. And for all he is so abstracted and dreamy he has a very good opinion of himself, man-like, and when he is really awake he wouldn’t think it much of a chore to ask any woman to have him. No, the trouble is, he’s deluding himself into believing that his heart is buried, while all the time it’s beating away inside of him just like anybody else’s. He may have a notion of Rosemary West and he may not. If he has, we must make the best of it. She is a sweet girl and a fine housekeeper, and would make a good mother for those poor, neglected children. And,” concluded Miss Cornelia resignedly, “my own grandmother was an Episcopalian.”
CHAPTER XVIII. MARY BRINGS EVIL TIDINGS
Mary Vance, whom Mrs. Elliott had sent up to the manse on an errand, came tripping down Rainbow Valley on her way to Ingleside where she was to spend the afternoon with Nan and Di as a Saturday treat. Nan and Di had been picking spruce gum with Faith and Una in the manse woods and the four of them were now sitting on a fallen pine by the brook, all, it must be admitted, chewing rather vigorously. The Ingleside twins were not allowed to chew spruce gum anywhere but in the seclusion of Rainbow Valley, but Faith and Una were unrestricted by such rules of etiquette and cheerfully chewed it everywhere, at home and abroad, to the very proper horror of the Glen. Faith had been chewing it in church one day; but Jerry had realized the enormity of that, and had given her such an older-brotherly scolding that she never did it again.
“I was so hungry I just felt as if I had to chew something,” she protested. “You know well enough what breakfast was like, Jerry Meredith. I couldn’t eat scorched porridge and my stomach just felt so queer and empty. The gum helped a lot—and I didn’t chew very hard. I didn’t make any noise and I never cracked the gum once.”
“You mustn’t chew gum in church, anyhow,” insisted Jerry. “Don’t let me catch you at it again.”
“You chewed yourself in prayer-meeting last week,” cried Faith.
“That’s different,” said Jerry loftily. “Prayer-meeting isn’t on Sunday. Besides, I sat away at the back in a dark seat and nobody saw me. You were sitting right up front where every one saw you. And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last hymn and stuck it on the back of the pew right up in front where every one saw you. And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last hymn and stuck it on the back of the pew in front of me. Then I came away and forgot it. I went back to get it next morning, but it was gone. I suppose Rod Warren swiped it. And it was a dandy chew.”