BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
86. CHAPTER LXXXVI.
"It will be a sad while before you can be married, Mary," said her father,
not looking at her, but at the end of the stick which he held in his other
"Not a sad while, father--I mean to be merry," said Mary,
laughingly. "I have been single and merry for four-and-twenty
years and more: I suppose it will not be quite as long again
as that." Then, after a little pause, she said, more gravely,
bending her face before her father's, "If you are contented with Fred?"
Caleb screwed up his mouth and turned his head aside wisely.
"Now, father, you did praise him last Wednesday. You said he
had an uncommon notion of stock, and a good eye for things."
"Did I?" said Caleb, rather slyly.
"Yes, I put it all down, and the date, anno Domini, and everything,"
said Mary. "You like things to be neatly booked. And then his
behavior to you, father, is really good; he has a deep respect for you;
and it is impossible to have a better temper than Fred has."
"Ay, ay; you want to coax me into thinking him a fine match."
"No, indeed, father. I don't love him because he is a fine match."
"What for, then?"
"Oh, dear, because I have always loved him. I should never like
scolding any one else so well; and that is a point to be thought
of in a husband."
"Your mind is quite settled, then, Mary?" said Caleb, returning to
his first tone. "There's no other wish come into it since things
have been going on as they have been of late?" (Caleb meant a great
deal in that vague phrase;) "because, better late than never.
A woman must not force her heart--she'll do a man no good by that."