I’d like to know real well ef he’s one o’ Hannah Heath’s beaux.” Miranda needed no second bidding. She slipped through the hall and store room, and in a moment stood before the door of the closet. Softly she opened it, and stepped in, lifting her feet cautiously, for the closet floor seemed full of old boots and shoes.
And thus did David, with a pleasant speech, turn aside Hannah Heath’s dart. Yet while she went from the house with a smile and a sound of pleasant wishes in her ears, she carried with her a bitter heart and a revengeful one. David was suddenly brought face to face with the thing he had to tell Marcia.
Heath was spurting; Collingwood passed Bolton, but in doing so did not lessen Heath’s lead—a lead of fully fifteen yards. So they came to the last turn, to the long straight-away home-stretch; and the crowd clustered by the finish broke and ran up alongside the track to meet them. Every one was yelling wildly—one name or another—“Corinthian!” “Pythian!” “Heath!” “Collingwood!”
“Her name is Marcia,” said Miss Amelia in a most satisfied tone; “you must have misunderstood.” Marcia caught a look in Miss Heath’s eyes, alert, keen, questioning, which flashed all over her like something searching and bright but not friendly. She felt a painful shyness stealing over her and wished that David were by her side. She looked across the room at him.
His face had recovered its usual calmness, though he looked pale. He was talking on his favorite theme with old Mr. Heath: the newly invented steam engine and its possibilities. He had forgotten everything else for the time, and his face lighted with animation as he tried to answer William Heath’s arguments against it.
Her upbringing in the atmosphere of Grandmother Heath’s sarcastic, ill-natured gossip had prepared her to be quick to see meaning in any insinuation. She looked at him keenly, archly for a moment, then replied with drooping gaze and coquettish manner: “You should not blame any one for enjoying your company.”
She turned an annoyed look at Kate, who flashed her blue eyes contemptuously as if to blame Hannah. Soon the whole little gathering were in the dining-room and wide hall being served with Grandmother Heath’s fried chicken and currant jelly, delicate soda biscuits, and fruit cake baked months before and left to ripen.
He wanted her to come alone cause the business was private, so I stayed down by the turn of the road till she got in an then I went cross lots an round to the kitchen an called on Mis’ Green a spell. She was tellin me about her boarders an I told her I thought mebbe one of em was a friend o’ Hannah Heath’s so she said I might peek through the key hole of the cubberd an see.
Heath’s heavy voice again, “I tell you, Dave, it can’t be done. It’s impractical. Why, no car could advance against the wind.” “They told Columbus he couldn’t sail around the earth, but he did it!” There was sudden stillness in the room, for it was Marcia’s clear, grave voice that had answered Mr. Heath’s excited tones, and she had not known she was going to speak aloud.
She had not felt like wearing it to Hannah Heath’s wedding, it seemed too precious to take near an unloving person like Hannah. Before that she had never felt an occasion great enough. Now she drew it forth breathlessly. A white crêpe shawl and a pink calico sunbonnet! Marcia laughed softly. But then, what matter! David had said wear it. All things were ready for the morrow now.