“He will not notice it, that I’ll warrant,” prophesied the matron.
With his horse’s bridle over his arm, the lover was waiting for her on the front porch. “Will you not walk with me down the road a little way?” he begged. “’T is so hard to leave you.”
“I—I think I had better not,” urged the girl, showing trepidation. “’T would surely delay you too—”
“Ah, Janice,” interrupted the lover, “why—what have I done that you should show such fear of me?”
“I’m not afraid of you,” denied Janice, hurriedly; “and of course I’ll go, if—if you think it best.”
“Then what is it frightens you, sweetheart?” persisted Jack, as they set off.
The maiden scrutinised the ground and horizon as if seeking an explanation ere she replied shyly, “’T is—’t is indeed no fear of you, but you—you never ask permission.”
The officer laughed exultingly. “Then may I put my arm about you?” he requested.
“’T will make walking too difficult.”
“How know you that?” demanded Jack.
“’T is—’t is easily fancied.”
Brereton’s free arm encircled the girl. “Try to fancy it,” he entreated. “And never again say that I do not ask permission.”
A mile down the road Jack halted. “I’ll not let you go further,” he groaned; “nor must I linger, for reminder of my wound still troubles me if I ride too quick.”
“Why did you not tell me you had been wounded when you took me away from the ball?” asked Janice, reproachfully.
“’T was not once in my thoughts that evening, nor was anything else save you.”
“I can make all sorts of preserves and jellies and pickles, and next winter I’ll send you some to camp.”
“That you shall not,” asserted the aide; “for the day we go into winter quarters sees me back here to dance at your wedding.”
“Hadst better wait till thou art invited, sir?” suggested Janice, saucily.
“What? A revolt on my hands already!” exclaimed the officer.
“T is you are the rebel.”
“Then you are my prisoner,” retorted Jack, catching her in his arms.
“You Whigs are a lawless lot!”
“Toward avowed Tories, ay—and a good serve-out to them.”
“But I gave my word to his Excellency that from henceforth I’d be Whiggish, so you’ve no right to treat me as one.”
“Then I’ll not,” agreed the lover. “And since I plundered from you while you were against us, ’t is only right that I should return what I took.” He kissed her thrice tenderly. “Good-by, my sweet,” he said, and, releasing her, mounted. “’T is fortunate I depend not on my own legs, for they ’d never consent to carry me away from you.” He started his horse, but turned in his saddle to call back: “’T will not be later than the first of November, with or without permission,” and throwing a last kiss with his hand, spurred away.
Till Jack passed from view, the girl’s eyes followed him then, with a look of dreaminess in her eyes, she walked slowly back to Greenwood, so abstracted by her thoughts that she spoke not a word to the attendant hound.