Westerfelt Part 38

"Well, I didn't see how he could," said Mrs. Floyd. "I didn't, really."

"She hasn't said she will forgive me for thinking she was in love with Wambush, and making such a fool of myself on account of the mistake,"

said Westerfelt. "I wish you'd help me out, Mrs. Floyd."

"I may not forgive you for thinking I could love such a man," answered Harriet, "but I don't blame you a bit for the way you acted. I reckon that was just jealousy, and that showed he cared for me; don't you think so, mother?"

"Yes, daughter, I always have believed that Mr. Westerfelt loved you.

And if I had had the management of this thing there wouldn't have been such a long misunderstanding. Mr. Westerfelt, Hettie Fergusson is out in the kitchen, just crazy to know if you will withdraw the charges against Toot so that he can come back home."

"I wouldn't prosecute that man," laughed Westerfelt, "not if he'd killed my best friend. Tell her that, Mrs. Floyd."

"Well, she'll be crazy to hear it, and I'll go tell her." She went into the hall and quickly returned. "Will Washburn is in front and wants to speak to you," she said. But Washburn came to the door himself, an anxious look on his face.

"The hack's still waitin' fer you, Mr. Westerfelt," he said. "What must I do about it?"

"Tell Ridly to go on without me," laughed Westerfelt. "And--Wash!" he added. "Take all the money out of the cash drawer and go get blind drunk. Shoot off all the guns you can find, and set the stable on fire. Wash, shake hands! I'm the luckiest fellow on G.o.d's green earth."

Washburn was not dense, and he reddened as it occurred to him that his reply ought to voice some sort of congratulations.

"Ef I'm any jedge o' human natur' yo're both lucky," he stammered.

"Mr. Westerfelt is about the squarest man I ever struck an' would fight a circular saw bare-handed, an' Miss Harriet, I'll sw'ar I jest can't think o' nothin' good enough to say about you, except ef you hadn't a-been all wool an' a yard wide Mr. Westerfelt wouldn't a-been so crazy about you." Washburn laughed out suddenly, and added, "Some time I'll tell you about how he used to do at night when he couldn't sleep, especially after Bas' Bates got to cuttin' his patchin', an' buyin'

paper collars an' neckties."

After Washburn had left they sat together on the sofa for several minutes in silence. The pause was broken by Harriet.

"I've been trying to make out what G.o.d meant by making us go through all this--you through all your ups and downs, and me mine. Don't you reckon it was so that He could make us feel just like we do now?"

He nodded, but there was a lump of happiness in his throat that kept him from speaking.

"Well, I do," she said. "I used to think He hadn't treated me fair, but I thank Him with all my heart for _all_ of it--_all_ of it. I wouldn't alter a thing. I believe you love me, and I can't think of anything else I could want. I believe you loved me even when you thought I loved Toot Wambush, and if you did then, I know you will now when I tell you I never loved any other man but you, and never even allowed any other man even hold my hand."

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