BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
86. CHAPTER LXXXVI.
"My feelings have not changed, father," said Mary, calmly.
"I shall be constant to Fred as long as he is constant to me.
I don't think either of us could spare the other, or like any one
else better, however much we might admire them. It would make too
great a difference to us--like seeing all the old places altered,
and changing the name for everything. We must wait for each other
a long while; but Fred knows that."
Instead of speaking immediately, Caleb stood still and screwed his
stick on the grassy walk. Then he said, with emotion in his voice,
"Well, I've got a bit of news. What do you think of Fred going
to live at Stone Court, and managing the land there?"
"How can that ever be, father?" said Mary, wonderingly.
"He would manage it for his aunt Bulstrode. The poor woman has
been to me begging and praying. She wants to do the lad good,
and it might be a fine thing for him. With saving, he might gradually
buy the stock, and he has a turn for farming."
"Oh, Fred would be so happy! It is too good to believe."
"Ah, but mind you," said Caleb, turning his head warningly, "I must take
it on MY shoulders, and be responsible, and see after everything;
and that will grieve your mother a bit, though she mayn't say so.
Fred had need be careful."
"Perhaps it is too much, father," said Mary, checked in her joy.
"There would be no happiness in bringing you any fresh trouble."
"Nay, nay; work is my delight, child, when it doesn't vex your mother.
And then, if you and Fred get married," here Caleb's voice shook
just perceptibly, "he'll be steady and saving; and you've got
your mother's cleverness, and mine too, in a woman's sort of way;
and you'll keep him in order. He'll be coming by-and-by, so I
wanted to tell you first, because I think you'd like to tell HIM
by yourselves. After that, I could talk it well over with him,
and we could go into business and the nature of things."