The Glamour of Spring, a Victorian Romance By Susan Hartley Swett 1860-1907
The Glamour of Spring
A Victorian Romance By Susan Hartley Swett
"I really believe that Marthy is a witch," said my aunt, regarding a silken table cover profusely befringed and decorated with embroidery, which had just been sent her from a distant State, with something like awe depicted on her countenance. "She said in the last fortune she told for me, that I was going to receive a present that would surprise me, and from an unexpected quarter. And who ha' thought that Cousin Sabriny Wood's daughter, that I never saw and scarce ever heard of, would set up and send me a present? Another time, when she cut the cards, she told me that I was going to be real fortunate in some money matters, and so I was, for the very next week his brother died and left me this place. I wish I knew whether something she told me the last time would come true."
My aunt took a good look at herself in the glass as she breathed this wish, and anxiously arranged some airy little curls which were grouped tenderly about her smooth but too high and not especially intellectual-looking forehead.
Nelly, my sister, laughed. "She's always predicting presents and money, and it would be very strange if she did not get it right sometimes," she said rather scornfully.
"What does a child like you know about such things?" exclaimed my aunt angrily.
Nelly was nineteen, and besides being very pretty, had a good stock of common sense, as everybody remarked, but my aunt was always pleased to call her a child.
Nelly made no reply, but my aunt made haste to say that "of course, she didn't believe in fortune-telling, as a general thing, but the cards ran very queer sometimes, and Marthy read 'em wonderfully."
All that morning my aunt seemed to have something more than usual on her mind. She was airily playful and deeply meditative by turns, and with a knot of gay ribbon at her throat, astonished us by her juvenility and sprightliness.
"Joe," she called to me after dinner, "I wish you would go over and ask Marthy Doane if she won't come here to supper tonight. Say that I am going to have plum fritters, and that she mustn't forget to bring her cards."
Nelly and I exchanged glances, and when my aunt had left the room, she said with a sigh: "Oh, dear, I wish Aunt Jane wouldn't have such notions."
"But I'm glad she has," I replied. "Marthy is fun, and there'll be four or five kinds of preserves for supper."
Nelly remarked that I was a greedy boy, and so I was, but all boys are more or less afflicted with that complaint.
Marthy, who lived in a little weather-beaten log house just outside the village, or rather hamlet--Clewly's Mills was nothing more than that--with her aged mother, seemed delighted with the invitation, and said she "could come as well as not. She had got her week's work pretty well out of her hands, and Solon's daughter was coming over that afternoon as soon as she could after dinner, and would keep Marm company while she was absent."
Marthy's appearance was not impressive enough to give one great faith in her powers as a seeress. She was fat and roly-poly and had a funny little nose which looked as if it had been an afterthought and had been made with putty and stuck on, but she wore an air of great solemnity, and never appeared without two pairs of spectacles, as she called them, one pair of plain glass and another of blue, which she wore one above the other, giving an additional air of drollery to her face. There was a shrewd twinkle in her eyes, however, and there was a report that she had saved quite a comfortable little sum out of her small earnings as a rug and quilt maker. She did mending, too, and as there were a great many lumber men in camp during the winter in the not far-distant woods, she reaped quite a harvest during their sojourn. But she was miserly in her habits, and the two women subsisted upon the poorest and most meager food, so it is little wonder that when she was bidden to my aunt's to supper, she accepted with such alacrity.
She came early that day, and my aunt, who was in uncommon spirits and wore a spray of pink arbutus which I had brought in from the woods, in her hair, had supper at an earlier hour than usual, so impatient was she to get at the fortune-telling. And while Nelly was doing up the supper dishes, my aunt drew two chairs into a distant corner of the room. Marthy produced a not over clean and well-worn pack of cards from her pocket, and the important sitting began.
"You don't see nobody comin', do you, sonny?" Marthy said with a little anxious look out of the window, as she shuffled the cards. "I know there ain't no harm in reading the cards for persons, but bein' a church member, it's just as well--
I locked the outside door," said my aunt, who had a little feverish spot on either cheek. "Of course 'tain't any harm, but I don't want Mis' Deacon Price or Mis' Christopher Jones spyin' in upon us. 'Twould be all over town before bed time. I'll light the lamp and pull the shades down bime-bye."
"So do. Lem me see; there's a dark complected man that has a real good heart for you. Don't seem's if he lived close by; no, there's a wood. I can't see there's no water between ye. I ain't certain that you know him, now--"
Here, I mischievously made a little creaking sound with the rockers of a chair which stood beside the lounge where I was pretending to be asleep, when they both started up in dismay. Marthy dropped the cards into her pocket and bent innocently over some knitting work which lay upon the table, and my aunt rushed to the cupboard and commenced to rattle the dishes.
"What was it?" she exclaimed in a tragic whisper.
"He's tall, a real personable man, and it 'pears as if you'd meet him first where there was something particular goin' on," pursued Marthy after a little interval of breathless waiting, "and judging' by the cards 'round him, he's got a lot o'money. My, jest look at them ten-spots, 'bout every one in the pack! Seem's as if he must be a 'squire; yes, I know he's a 'squire by the way the cards run--there's books and an awful lot o' people he has to deal with and--"
"Mightn't he be a minister?" interrupted my aunt, her eyes very wide open.
"No, there's too much confusion 'round him for that, and he don't look a mite like a school-master."
"How old should you think he was?" inquired my aunt anxiously.
"Well, it looks as if he waren’t more'n forty, but I can't tell exactly. Mebbe the next time you cut the cards his age 'll come out plainer. Everything looks kinder topsy-turvy, as if you was goin' ter git merried in a great hurry."
"But I can't think who he can be," said my aunt, wrinkling her brows and clasping her hands excitedly. "Is he a widower or an old bachelor?"
"Seems as ef he was an old bachelder. Now, I'll give 'em a real good shuffling' and you cut ag'in."
"Well, there, it's the same thing over ag'in," she exclaimed after the shuffling and cutting had been accomplished, "only your wish comes out plainer. Yes, you'll get your wish, sure enough. It's the same wish, I recon."
"Yes, 'twas; and it looks as if I'd surely get it, does it?" inquired my aunt with a flushed face and delighted eyes.
"Yes, plain enough. There, I can tell ye who the old bachelder 'squire is now; I never thought of him before. "it's "Squire Canning over to Fowler's Falls. He's about forty, he's a bachelder--and has got no end o' money. He's tall, too, and looks for all the world like the feller in the cards."
"But I never saw him," said my aunt, looking rather doubtful. "I've heard he was real haughty too, and wouldn't even speak to common folks 'less he took a notion."
"Well, you don't call yourself common folks, do ye?" replied the wily Marthy. "You're pritty-lookin' and genteel enough for anybody I--"
"Do shuffle them once more, Marthy, and see if the cards come the same," pleaded my aunt childishly.
Marthy did as she was requested, and they did come just the same, though she handled the pack with the greatest violence, and my aunt was allowed to see for herself.
"I was thinking of going over to Fowler's Falls for a few days next week," faltered my aunt, looking very red in the face. "I haven't made a visit there for a long time, and I'm always being invited."
"You've got folks there, ain't you? Why, ain't it your cousin that manages the 'squire's place?"
"Y-e-s, but I don't know 's I shall go to his house. I've got a lot of other friends at the Falls, and Mr. Rollins, the hotel keeper, is a relative of my husband's--distant, but I've always known the family."
Marthy went home that night perfectly laden with presents of preserves and other goodies in which her soul delighted, and my aunt was in so absent-minded a state that she would have gone to bed and left all the doors unlocked--fastening up for the night was a task which she always insisted upon doing herself--if Nelly had not reminded her of the omission after she had gone upstairs.
She had never spoken to Nelly and me of her intended visit to Fowler's Falls, and as the roads between the Mills and that place were in a frightful condition, owing to unusually heavy spring rains, we thought it rather strange she should contemplate doing so at that time. It was not like Aunt Jane to keep such an intention to herself, either, as Nelly remarked, but we resolved not to speak to her about it, or at least, Nelly did, and cautioned me with a great deal of impressiveness, to be silent on the subject.
The next morning Aunt Jane announced at the breakfast table that she was going to get John Brodstreet, a neighbor who owned a horse and buggy which he let to the neighbors sometimes, to take her down to Greenville Corner, a village about three miles distant, as she wished to do some shopping, and we were not to be worried about her if she did not return until late.
She seemed in the highest of spirits, but still very much excited when she left the house, and returned that night with most astonishing additions to her wardrobe. Surely, my aunt, who had always been of a decidedly thrifty turn, if not very sober, had never been in such state before.
"You will startle Clewly's Mills beyond recovery, Aunt Jane," said Nelly, when our flighty relative displayed her new spring bonnet, which was of delicate leaf-green with such a profusion of blushing roses and trailing pink ribbons that it looked like nothing so much as a May basket. She also displayed a jaunty little mantle, which was suggestive of sweet sixteen with its floating streamers and girlish shape; a pair of lavender kid gloves, a quantity of fluffy laces and frills for the neck, besides yards and yards of rainbow ribbon, which she said was to brighten up her best black silk dress, which was altogether too plain and frumpy for a lady as young as herself.
"I ain't going to be so frumpy, nor dress so frumpy as I have done, anymore. There's no sense in a young person's settlin' down so," she said, trying the effect of the bonnet in the glass. "I'm going on a visit over to Fowler's Mills next week, you know, and I couldn't go over there without being dressed up a little"
"But I thought Cousin Levi's folks were the plainest of farming people," said Nelly, looking puzzled.
"Cousin Levi's folks ain't all the people that I shall see over there, by any means in the world. I, myself, shall stop at the public house--that's the genteelest thing to do when you visit a place; then you can go where you want to from there, and receive visitors, too. I guess I shall take you and Joe to the Falls with me though, and let you go to Levi's. He ain't seen you yet, Nelly, and he's always askin' to have you come over."
"Very well, I shall like that, I'm sure," replied my sister, "for I have often heard father speak of the kindness and cordiality of the family. He and Cousin Levi were great friends when they were boys, I believe.
"Why, yes--mebbe, but then your father was somebody, you know, if he did die poor, and Levi--well, he's well enough in his way, but real small potatoes. Nothing but a farmer, and he ain't workin' on his own farm, either."
We started for Fowler's Falls the next Tuesday. It was a delightful morning, with all the sweet bustle of spring in the woods and along the river; birds calling and singing, brooks and river trying to outdo each with flying feet and bubbling laughter. But alas, it was very muddy also, and the old yellow stage coach was plastered with the blackest and stickiest of this most objectionable commodity. The wheels dripped with it, and the driver himself was plentifully bespattered, even to his whiskers.
My aunt in her bonnet, so like the fresh young spring in its tender coloring, and some new, very shining and also very thin boots adorned with huge ribbon rosettes, hesitated a moment before climbing into this dripping vehicle, but the driver called out reassuringly that he had been through the worst of the mud already, and inside passengers were all right, anyway, and she accordingly stepped in, Nellie and I following, very much hampered with bundles and band-boxes for Aunt Jane, beside our own necessary traveling bags. There were four other passengers occupying the stage when we entered. Two fat old ladies and two men; one little old man who was evidently a stranger in the region and was interested in the rafts and booms sliding down the rapid river, of which we caught glimpses through the pine woods all the way, and the other a rather distinguished-looking man of about forty, or perhaps younger, who was leaning back in a corner with his hat pushed far down over his eyes. He seemed to be rather drowsy, but still conversed at intervals with the little old man, who wished to know about everything and seemed to be unable to keep silent for a moment. The old ladies talked too, or at least one of them did; the other, we were informed, was kinder stage-sick and discouraged.
"Oh, dear," cried my aunt, in a little mincing, high-keyed tone to which I was entirely unaccustomed, "I know I shall be stage-sick too, if I have to ride backwards; I ain't strong enough for that. There, I'm getting dizzy now."
"Take my seat, madam," said the man in the soft hat with quick politeness.
My aunt demurred, saying with a great many airy titters and nods of her beflowered head, that she "never allowed herself to be selfish, never."
"But it doesn't affect me in the least to ride backwards," he said, and taking her by the arm, he passed her over into his seat and settled himself into the one she had occupied, with scant ceremony.
As he did so, he displayed a hand as white and shapely as that of a woman, and on one of the fingers glittered a diamond ring, the sight of which quite overcame my aunt, who thanked him with so many smiles and so profusely that Nelly colored with mortification and I, brutal boy that I was, grinned from ear to ear.
There was a little spark of amusement in the man's eyes also as he really looked at my aunt for the first time, but as his glance traveled on to Nelly, who was looking uncommonly nice in her little rough straw hat and tight-fitting jacket, the amused, half-contemptuous look changed to one of respectful admiration. He sat up in a more erect position after that, and I could see that every now and then his gaze wandered to Nelly's face, but she, poor girl, was in a chronic state of blushing--Aunt Jane, who was evidently talking at this elegant stranger, was taking such extraordinary airs and talking in such a false and affected manner.
"Who can that gentleman be?" she whispered to me. "He evidently lives down to Greenville, by the way he talks. It can't be "Squire Austin, can it?"
"No, it wasn't 'Squire Austin; he was up 'round the Mills the other day and I saw him. 'Squire Auston had gray hair."
"You ain't never seen this one 'round there, have you?"
"No, I never had--no one that looks like him in the least."
The state rolled along for a while at a pretty comfortable pace, for we were on high land where the mud had dried considerably. There was a soft little breeze blowing, sweet with the air of the pines and the moist spring soil. Moose-wood blossoms nodded from the edge of the woods in creamy-white clusters, which were in strange contrast to the velvety-black of the stump fences, and along the brook which followed the road, marsh-marigolds sprinkled the turf for miles, shining like the sunshine itself. Sometimes we were entirely shut in by the pine woods, then we caught delightful glimpses of the valley below, dotted with little clearings which looked like emeralds dropped in the midst of the airy and mist-like green of the oak and birch woods, and the twisted river with the dark shadows of great mills stretched across its silver surface at one point, and now and then drifts of rainbow spray where it leaped over rocks and swirled about the roots of giant trees. Nelly, who had not lived in the back-woods very long, having been at school at an academy down river for several years, and before that time with another aunt in the city, was delighted with everything she saw. As for me, I had lived with Aunt Jane ever since mother died, and that was when I was a baby, so I was quite accustomed to the aspect of spring in that region.
She quite forgot to be annoyed by Aunt Jane's frivolities for a time, so absorbed was she in looking at the sights which came in view from the stage window, and at the first glimpse of the marsh-marigolds, exclaimed:
"Oh, Aunt Jane, do look at those beautiful flowers!"
"I guess you like posies," said the little elderly man, and the man in the soft hat smiled sympathetically.
"They make beautiful greens, them cowslips, b'iled with a little piece of salt pork, but I never could see no great beauty in em," said one of the fat women.
"They're nothing but weeds, of course," tittered my aunt. "But she ain't much used to wild blows. She's lived mostly in the city." Then she took occasion to whisper pettishly in Nelly's ear that she wished she wouldn't keep calling her aunt. "There wasn't the least need of it, and everybody thought that they were two sisters, of course."
We were creeping down into the valley now, and our way was growing more difficult. The road had been so badly washed by the rains that we pitched into cradle-holes, bumped over hillocks and sank so deeply into the mud that the panting horses could hardly drag the lumbering old vehicle with its clogged and mud-laden wheels.
We came to a standstill at the foot of a moderately long and high hill, and the driver sang out:
"Now, if you'll all get out and walk up this hill, I guess we can get along the rest of the way; as far as Fowler's Falls, at least. 'Twon't be such bad goin' t'other side o' the hill."
"I can do it, but I don't know's she can," said the wide-awake fat old lady, regarding her dozing companion doubtfully. "She's troubled with rheumatiz considerable."
But when she was made to understand what was required of her, the sleepy old lady aroused herself and declared that the walk was just what she wanted to limber her out a little and wake her up.
"I'm sorry for the old folks," said the driver, "but I guess you younger ones can get up the hill well enough."
I'm sure my aunt was about to declare in the most positive terms that she could not walk up; she was not strong enough to undertake such a feat; but to be classed with old folks was more than she could endure. So she gave an airy little jump, and of course, landed in the very midst of the stickiest mud puddle, where she stuck fast, unable to lift either foot.
The gentleman of the soft hat ran to her assistance, and after a good deal of tugging and pulling, for my aunt was by no means delicate in weight, succeeded in extricating her from her unhappy predicament, and was obliged to carry her in his arms for several yards to the comparatively dry turf by the side of the road, she blushing and tittering in the meantime like a silly school-girl, though she was moved to place her head confidingly on his shoulder.
His face expressed both annoyance and amusement as he left her, rosetted boots and all, standing upon a rock, while he went to assist the driver in moving the stage, which was stuck so fast in the mud that the tired horses were unable to stir the wheels without help. Fortunately, some men were at work on the river near by, and with the combined efforts of the whole party, it was finally extricated from the mud-hole and pushed up the hill, at the top of which was a public house at which a change of horses was to be made.
Nelly and I tried to assist my aunt in walking up the rather steep ascent, but she scorned our attentions and lingered at the foot, deeply interested in the men who were tugging at the unfortunate stage, so we hurried along by ourselves, and seeing indications of May flowers on the edge of the woods, we ran in for a few moments and found a quantity of them, pink as the dawning, and hiding so prettily under their russet leaves.
Our hands were nearly full when the man in the soft hat came hurrying towards us, holding an overshoe in his hand.
"Cinderella's rubber!" he exclaimed with a smile, and a smile made him look very youthful and pleasant.
Nelly looked ruefully down at her water-soaked and muddy feet. She had not missed the rubber, for having been quite above her boots in mud, one foot was as wet and uncomfortable as the other.
"Stay, it is not quite dry yet," he said as she was about to take it, and producing his pocket handkerchief, he wiped out the inside with great care. Nelly blushingly protested against this proceeding, saying that her shoes were as wet as possible already.
"But if the overshoe is dry when you put it on, it will warm your foot at least," he said with paternal solicitude.
Nelly thanked him rather shyly and turned away. Aunt Jane's extraordinary behavior and his evident amusement and air of social superiority inspired her with a wish to avoid him.
But he seemed to have no idea of leaving us to ourselves and was evidently as pleased as a boy with the arbutus blossoms. He said that they did not grow in the region where he lived, though it was only a few miles distant, and busied himself in picking a large bunch of them. He was so merry and genial that one could hardly help talking with him, after all. And when he brought Nelly a long wreath of the loveliest and most perfect leaves and blossoms, which he had carefully pulled with all its trailing sprays and rootlets, she twisted it jauntily about her hat, he assisting with deft and artistic fingers.
The driver's shrill whistle and cry of "all aboard," broke up our picnic and we hastened up the hill where the stage was waiting with fresh horses, my aunt looking rather unhappy, and all the other passengers already within.
"The glamour of spring," remarked the little elderly man, with a meaning glance at Nelly and her posies. Then his glance traveled to our male companion and he repeated: "The glamour of spring," smiling broadly. He pronounced it glaymour, and my aunt frowned at him with a puzzled look on her expressive countenance.
But our friend, who seemed to be no longer in his picnic mood, settled himself into a corner once more, pulled his hat over his eyes and ignored even his presence.
"The driver says he can't get any further than Fowler's Falls today, no how," announced the fat old woman, who had just found breath to speak after climbing the hill.
"'Twill be pretty good goin' between here 'n' there, he says, but beyond there the road lays through an awful swampy place, you know, for a good piece. Well, I've got folks to the Falls where I can put up for a spell. So's she," with a glance at her companion, who was already becoming drowsy again. "Be you goin' to stop to the Falls, too?" addressing my aunt.
"yes, I'm going there for a visit," replied my aunt, whose tender-colored ribbons were spattered with mud, and whose face was correspondingly clouded.
"Be you? Well, now, I know about everybody at the Falls, and probably I'm well acquainted with your folks, if I might take the liberty to ask who they be?"
"I'm going to visit "Squire Canning's folks," said my aunt with a little self-important nod of the head , and in a little, mincing voice, "but today, I shall put up at the public house and get cleaned up and rested a little before I go to see any of my folks."
The old lady glanced from my aunt to the man in the soft hat with a look of amazement. My aunt's statement seemed to have a strange effect upon him also, for he started visibly, and looking my startling relative full in the face, said:
"Madam, pardon me, but may I ask your name?"
"Certainly," simpered my aunt; "it is Benson. The Widow Benson, that is."
Nelly kept her head resolutely turned toward the window, apparently absorbed in the landscape, but I could see that even her ears were crimson. As for me, in my surprise and perturbation, I came near swallowing the huge piece of gum which I had in my mouth, and which Nelly said I must not chew because it was ill-bred.
"So you know the 'squire?" he said with that amused spark in his keen eyes.
"Oh, yes, indeed. I--"
My aunt faltered a little, for she really was not accustomed to such fabricating.
"Pray, what do you think of him?" he inquired.
"Well, I don't know 's I want to discuss my friends in a public conveyance," she replied, detecting something like mockery in his voice.
"Quite right. And of course, you know little Nan?" he went on.
"Of course. I think she is a lovely child."
"Child! Well, I suppose we are all children in the sight of God," he said with a broad smile, but meeting Nelly's glance, which was fixed upon him with a half-appealing, half-indignant expression, the smile quickly vanished, and he returned the glance with one of boyish frankness and contrition. And sinking back into his corner once more, became silent for the remainder of the journey.
The fat old lady kept up a most offensive tittering with meaning glances at Aunt Jane, but no one heeded her and no one spoke, with the exception of my aunt and the little elderly man, who were getting quite chummy and personal in their conversation.
It was late when we reached Fowler's Falls, and everybody looked tired and cross. The man with the soft hat took his departure first, the stage stopping at a beautiful avenue which led to a far more pretentious mansion than is usually seen in a back-woods village.
He took off his hat to my aunt and Nelly, bidding them good day very politely, and saying that if they were to spend a week or so at the Falls, he should probably see them. He hoped so, at any rate, with a meaning glance at my sister.
"It was "Squire Canning himself!" tittered the fat old lady, as soon as he had turned his back. "The man you are going to visit."
My aunt grew as white as the frill about her throat, but she kept a discreet silence and ignored the speaker entirely. Nelly and I squeezed each other's hands under the carriage robe.
We next passed Cousin Levi's cozy but somewhat dilapidated looking old farmhouse, and I would have begged to stop there, had I dared, but my aunt, in her crushed gentility, did not glance in its direction, so we rode on to the hotel, which was perhaps a half mile farther. But finding the hotel closed for repairs, at least to all but "mealers," as the driver said, we had nothing to do but to walk back to Cousin Levi's, Aunt Jane, plaintive in the extreme, and just ready to burst into tears in her airy but tight boots and her mud-plastered skirts.
:I feel a spell of tic-douloureux comin' on," she said, "and shall go back home again in the stage tomorrow."
And go she would, in spite of our remonstrances and the entreaties of Cousin Levi and his wife, who were delighted to see us and determined that we should make a good long visit.
"The children can stay a week or a fortnight if they want to, but I'm going back with the stage," she said. "I'm better off at home when I have an attack, and other folks are a good deal better off without me."
"But the stage starts so early in the morning, and you won't have time to go over and see "Squire Canning's new conservatory even," complained Cousin Sarah. "There's nothing like it in this county, either. I suppose you'd be too tired to go tonight."
At the mention of 'Squire Canning's name, my aunt's face flushed painfully, then grew deadly white. She "was indeed too tired to go anywhere," she said. She thought she would retire to her room as soon as possible.
But she wasn't destined to get away from the place without another glimpse of the 'squire, for while we were all seated at the supper table, when Cousin Levi rose and opened the outside door in answer to a rap, there he stood in plain sight, and recognized us at the first glance it was evident by a little start of surprise, and the same quick amusement dawning in his eyes that we had noticed before. We all pretended that we did not recognize him, though I suppose we made sorry work of it. I am sure Aunt Jane did, and even Nelly grew very red in the face.
"The best and kindest man in the world," said Cousin Levi, returning from a little outside conference with him. "He's been buying some new plants, and he wants me to bring you all over to see them after supper."
But we were all too tired to accept the invitation.
Aunt Jane seemed less drooping in the morning, but the stage took her away, also the little elderly man who had only come to the Falls on a little voyage of discovery. Nelly and I were to remain with our cousins a fortnight, and were both anticipating a right good time.
'Squire Canning appeared soon after Aunt Jane had taken her departure, and Nelly and I, who were just leaving the house for a little walk, came plump upon him at the gate. He was most cordial, and said he had come to take us over his grounds and to see his conservatory. But Nelly met his advances with unusual dignity, and declined the invitation on some pretext or another.
After our first day at Cousin Levi's, I did not see very much of my sister, for Cousin Levi lent me his gun, and as there was all sorts of game in the woods, I did not care to be tied to the apron string of any girl, much less to a grown-up young body like Nelly, who did not like guns and objected if I killed even a woodchuck. But I was a little bit surprised as the days went on, to meet her occasionally with "soft-hat," as I still called him, sauntering about the lanes, the pair seeming to be on the best of terms, in fact, quite absorbed in each other. And by-and-bye Cousin Sarah and Levi began to whisper in delighted wonder over the 'squire's attentions to my sister, for, as they said, "he had seemed to be a real settled-down old bach and never was known to look at a girl before, and it must mean something particular. Nelly appeared to have something against him at first, and fought shy, but now, like a sensible girl, she had made it all up with him, and seemed real pleased."
But I did not think much about it until the day before we started for home, when Nelly came to me and told me that she had promised to marry 'Squire Canning, that is, if Aunt Jane would give her consent, and that he was going to take us home to her in his own private carriage.
I was only equal to a prolonged whistle by way of reply.
When we reached Aunt Jane's, we found her, to our astonishment, seated on the sofa in the best room with the little elderly man who had been our fellow passenger to Fowler's Falls, close beside her.
She rushed forward as we entered the room, and clasping her arms around Nelly's neck, burst into tears. Then we knew what had happened without further enlightenment. Then Nelly whispered in her sympathetic ear the tale of her own engagement to the 'squire, and she consented to the marriage on the spot, and all went as merry as one could desire, for Aunt Jane did not seem to mind meeting the 'squire at all, and he was all deference and politeness to her, behaving quite like one of the family.
It seems that Aunt Jane and the little elderly man, who was a Mr. Pendleton from Bangor, and had just made a purchase of a water privilege at Clewly's Mills, had fallen in love with each other on the way back to the Mills, and he had proposed and been accepted the very next day. He told the story himself with evident delight, notwithstanding the blushes of Aunt Jane, and when he had finished, the 'squire, taking Nelly's hand, said with a meaning smile, "the glamour of spring, the glamour of spring."
"And you see, Nelly," whispered Aunt Jane, "that in spite of your contempt at fortune-telling, Marthy was more than half right. She is a witch after all."
But in spite of this belief, Aunt Jane grew more sensible after her marriage and troubled her head no more with Marthy's predictions. She left off her juvenile airs also, and was forever after, I think it safe to say, as strictly truthful as she had always been kind-hearted.
Copyright :: Nancy Oram Group. All Rights Reserved.