It did not take Janice long one morning to pack her little leather-covered and brass-nail studded trunk, and, this done, her conduct became not a little peculiar. After dinner she spent some time in spinet practice, and then rising announced to the elders that she must pack for the morrow’s journey. Her absence thus explained, she left the room, only to steal through the kitchen, and catch Sukey’s shawl from its hook in the passage to the wood-shed. Regardless of slippers and snow, she then sped toward the concealing hedge, and behind its friendly protection walked quickly to the stable. The door was rolled back enough to let the girl pass in quietly, and when she had done so, she glanced about in search of something. For an instant a look of disappointment appeared on her face, but the next moment, as a faint sound of scratching broke upon her ear, she stole softly to the feed and harness room, and peeked in.
The groom was sitting on a nail barrel, in front of the meal-bin, the cover of which was closed and was thus made to serve for a desk. On this were several sheets of what was then called pro patria paper, or foolscap, and most of these were very much bescribbled. An ink-horn and a sand-box completed the outfit, except for a quill in the hands of the bond-servant, which had given rise to the sound the girl had heard. Now, however, it was not writing, for the man was chewing the feather end with a look of deep thought on his face.
“O Clarion,” he sighed, as the girl’s glance was momentarily occupied with the taking in of these details, “why canst thou not give me a word to rhyme with morn? ’T will not come, and here ’t is the thirteenth.”
A low growl from Clarion, sounding like anything more than the desired rhyme, made the servant glance up, and the moment he saw the figure of some one, he rose, hastily bunched together the sheets of paper, and holding them in his hand cried, “Who ’s that?” in a voice expressing both embarrassment and anger. Then as his eyes dwelt on the intruder, he continued in an altered tone, “I ask your pardon, Miss Janice; I thought ’t was one of the servants. They are everlastingly spying on me. Can I serve you?” he added, rolling the papers up and stuffing them into his belt.
Janice’s eyes sought the floor, as she hesitatingly said, “I —I came to—to ask a favour of you.”
“’T is but for you to name,” replied the man, eagerly.
“Will you let me—I want—I should like Tibbie to see the—the picture of me, and I wondered if—if you would let me take it to Trenton—I’ll bring it back, you know, and—”
“Ah, Miss Janice,” exclaimed the servant, as the girl halted, “if you ’d but take it as a gift, ’t would pleasure me so!” While he spoke, without pretence of concealment he unbuttoned the top button of his shirt and taking hold of a string about his neck pulled forth a small wooden case, obviously of pocket-knife manufacture. Snapping the cord, he offered its pendant to Janice.