Rainbow Valley HTML version

XXII. St. George Knows All About It
At midnight Ellen West was walking home from the Pollock silver wedding. She
had stayed a little while after the other guests had gone, to help the gray-haired
bride wash the dishes. The distance between the two houses was not far and the
road good, so that Ellen was enjoying the walk back home in the moonlight.
The evening had been a pleasant one. Ellen, who had not been to a party for
years, found it very pleasant. All the guests had been members of her old set and
there was no intrusive youth to spoil the flavour, for the only son of the bride and
groom was far away at college and could not be present. Norman Douglas had
been there and they had met socially for the first time in years, though she had
seen him once or twice in church that winter. Not the least sentiment was
awakened in Ellen's heart by their meeting. She was accustomed to wonder,
when she thought about it at all, how she could ever have fancied him or felt so
badly over his sudden marriage. But she had rather liked meeting him again. She
had forgotten how bracing and stimulating he could be. No gathering was ever
stagnant when Norman Douglas was present. Everybody had been surprised
when Norman came. It was well known he never went anywhere. The Pollocks
had invited him because he had been one of the original guests, but they never
thought he would come. He had taken his second cousin, Amy Annetta Douglas,
out to supper and seemed rather attentive to her. But Ellen sat across the table
from him and had a spirited argument with him--an argument during which all his
shouting and banter could not fluster her and in which she came off best, flooring
Norman so composedly and so completely that he was silent for ten minutes. At
the end of which time he had muttered in his ruddy beard--"spunky as ever--
spunky as ever"--and began to hector Amy Annetta, who giggled foolishly over
his sallies where Ellen would have retorted bitingly.
Ellen thought these things over as she walked home, tasting them with
reminiscent relish. The moonlit air sparkled with frost. The snow crisped under
her feet. Below her lay the Glen with the white harbour beyond. There was a light
in the manse study. So John Meredith had gone home. Had he asked Rosemary
to marry him? And after what fashion had she made her refusal known? Ellen felt
that she would never know this, though she was quite curious. She was sure
Rosemary would never tell her anything about it and she would not dare to ask.
She must just be content with the fact of the refusal. After all, that was the only
thing that really mattered.
"I hope he'll have sense enough to come back once in a while and be friendly,"
she said to herself. She disliked so much to be alone that thinking aloud was one
of her devices for circumventing unwelcome solitude. "It's awful never to have a
man-body with some brains to talk to once in a while. And like as not he'll never
come near the house again. There's Norman Douglas, too--I like that man, and
I'd like to have a good rousing argument with him now and then. But he'd never
dare come up for fear people would think he was courting me again--for fear I'D
think it, too, most likely--though he's more a stranger to me now than John
Meredith. It seems like a dream that we could ever have been beaus. But there it