Charles reported to the squire at an hour the following morning which indicated either a desire for once to please his master, or some other motive, for an obedience so prompt must have necessitated a moonlight start from Greenwood in order to reach Trenton so early. He was told to bait his horses at the tavern, and the time this took was spent by the girls in repeating farewells.
“’T is a pity thee hast to go before Friend Penrhyn hath spoken,” said Tibbie, regretfully.
“Isn’t it?” sighed Janice. “I did so want to see how he’d say it.”
“You may—perhaps Charles—” brokenly but suggestively remarked Tibbie.
“Perhaps,” responded Janice, “but ’t will be very different. I know he’ll—well, he’ll be abrupt and—and excited, and will—his sentences will not be well thought out before-hand. Now Penrhyn would have spoken at length and feelingly. ’T would have been monstrously enjoyable.”
“At least thee’ll find out who Thalia is.”
“Oh, Tibbie, I fear me I sha’n’t dare. I tried to ask Mr. Taggart, who, being college-bred, ought to know, but I was so afraid she was a wicked woman, that I began to blush before I’d so much as got out the first word. I wish I was pale and delicate like Prissy Glover. ’T is mortifying to be so healthy.”
“Thy waist is at least two inches smaller than hers, when ’t is properly laced.”
“But I have red cheeks,” moaned Janice,” and, oh, Tibbie, at times I have such an appetite!”
“Oh, Jan! so have I,” confided Miss Drinker in the lowest of whispers, as if fearing even the walls. “Sometimes when the men are round, I’d eat twice as much but for the fear they ’d think me coarse and—”
“Gemini, yes!” assented Janice, when the speaker paused. “Many and many ’s the time I’ve wanted more. But ’t is all right as long as the men don’t know that we do.”
“Here ’s the sleigh,” interrupted Tabitha, going to the door. “Come out quickly, while thy father is having the stirrup cup, and I’ll ask him about Thalia.”
“Oh, will you?” joyfully cried Janice. “Tibbie, you’re a—”
Miss Meredith’s speech was stopped by the two coming within hearing of the redemptioner, who promptly removed his cap. “’T will be good to have you back at Greenwood, Miss Janice,” he said with a bow.
“How gracefully he does it!” whispered Tabitha, as they approached the sleigh. Then aloud she asked, “Charles, wilt tell me who—who—who was chosen captain of the ’Invincibles’?”
The question brought a scowl to the man’s face, and both girls held their breath, expecting an outbreak of temper, while Tabitha to herself bemoaned that so unfortunate a subject sprang first into her thoughts to replace the question she dared not put. But before the groom replied, the scowl changed suddenly into a look of amusement, and when he spoke, it was to say,—