All was animation at Greenwood the next morning, while yet it was dark, and as Janice dressed by candle-light, she trembled from something more than the icy chill of the room. The girl had been twice in her life to New York, once each to Newark and to Burlington, and though her visits to Trenton were of greater number, the event was none the less too rare an occurrence not to excite her. Her mother had to order her sharply to finish what was on her plate at breakfast, or she would scarce have eaten.
“If thou dost not want to be frozen, lass, before we get to Trenton,” warned the squire, “do as thy mother says. Stuff cold out of the stomach, or ’t is impossible to keep the scamp out of the blood.”
“Yes, dadda,” said the girl, obediently falling to once more. After a few mouthfuls she asked, “Dadda, who was Thalia?”
“’T was a filly who won the two-year purse at the Philadelphia races in sixty-eight,” the squire informed her, between gulps of sausage and buckwheat cakes.
“Was she very lovely?” asked Janice, in a voice of surprise.
“No. An ill-shaped mare, but with a great pace.”
The girl looked thoughtful for a moment and then asked, “Is that the only one there is?”
“Only what?” demanded her mother.
“The only Thalia?”
“’T is the only one I’ve heard of,” said the squire.
“Thou ’rt wrong, Lambert,” corrected his spouse, in wifely fashion. “’T was one of those old heathens with horns, or tail, or something, I forget exactly. What set thy mind on that, child? Hast been reading some romance on the sly?”
“No, mommy,” denied the girl.
“Put thy thoughts to better uses, then,” ordered the mother. “Think more of thy own sin and corruption and less of what is light and vain.”
It had been arranged that Thomas was to drive the sleigh, the squire preferring to leave Fownes in care of the remaining horses. It was Charles, however, who brought down the two trunks, and after he had put them in place he suggested, “If you’ll take seat, Miss Janice, I’ll tuck you well in.” Spreading a large bearskin on the seat and bottom of the sleigh, he put in a hot soapstone, and very unnecessarily took hold of the little slippered feet, and set them squarely upon it, as if their owner were quite unequal to the effort. Then he folded the robe carefully about her, and drew the second over that, allowing the squire, it must be confessed, but a scant portion for his share.
“Thank you, Charles,” murmured the girl, gratefully. “Of course he’s a bond-servant and he has a horrid beard,” she thought, “but it is nice to have some one to—to think of your comfort. If he were only Philemon!”
The bondsman climbed into the rear of the sleigh, that he might fold the back part of the skin over her shoulders. The act brought his face close to the inquirer, and she turned her head and whispered, “Who was Thalia?”