“’T is nearly tea-time,” replied Janice, pointing to the sun. “How the afternoon has flown!”
“Thanks to my charming companion,” responded the man, bowing low.
“Now you are teasing again,” cried Janice. “I don’t like to be made fun—”
“’T is my last thought,” cried Evatt, with unquestionable earnestness, and possessing himself of Janice’s hand, he stooped and kissed it impetuously and hotly.
The colour flooded up into the maiden’s face and neck at the action, but still more embarrassing to her was the awkward pause which ensued, as they set out on their return. She could think of nothing to say, and the stranger would not help her. “Let her blush and falter and stammer,” was his thought. “Every minute of embarrassment is putting me deeper in her thoughts.”
Fortunately for the girl, the distance to the house was not great, and the rapid pace she set in her stress quickly brought them to the doorway, which she entered with a sigh of relief. The guest was at once absorbed by her father, and Janice sought her room.
As she primped, the miniature lay before her, and occasionally she paused for a moment to look at it. Finally, when properly robed, she picked it up and held it for a moment. “I wonder if she broke his heart?” she soliloquised. “I don’t see how he could help loving her; I know I should.” Janice hesitated for a moment, and then tucked the miniature into her bosom. “If only Tibbie wasn’t—if—we could talk about it,” she sighed, as she pinned on her little cap of lace above the hair dressed high a la Pompadour. “Why did she have to be—just as so many important things were to happen!” Miss Meredith looked at her double in the mirror, and sighed again. “Mr. Evatt must have been laughing at me,” she said, “for she is so much prettier. But I should like to know why Charles always stares so at me.”
In the meantime, Evatt, without so much as an allusion to the bond-servant, had presented a letter from a New Yorker, introducing him to the squire, and by the confidence thus established he proceeded to question Mr. Meredith long and carefully, not about farming lands and profits, but concerning the feeling of the country toward the questions then at issue between Great Britain and America. He made as they talked an occasional note, and the interview ended only with Peg’s announcement of supper. Nor was this allowed to terminate the inquiry, for the squire, as Mrs. Meredith had foreseen, insisted on Evatt’s spending the night, and Charles was accordingly ordered to ride over to the inn for the traveller’s saddlebags. After the ladies had left the two men at the table, the questioning was resumed over the spirits and pipes, and not till ten o’clock was passed did Evatt finally rise. Clearly he must have pleased the squire as well as he had the dames, for Mr. Meredith, with the hospitality of the time, pressed him heartily to stay for more than the morrow, assuring him of a welcome at Greenwood for as long as he would make it his abiding spot.