"Abigail, there is one thing I must talk to thee about. Friend Speakman's partner,--perhaps thee's heard of him, Richard Hilton,-- has a son who is weakly. He's two or three years younger than Moses. His mother was consumptive, and they're afraid he takes after her. His father wants to send him into the country for the summer--to some place where he'll have good air, and quiet, and moderate exercise, and Friend Speakman spoke of us. I thought I'd mention it to thee, and if thee thinks well of it, we can send word down next week, when Josiah Comly goes"
"What does THEE think?" asked his wife, after a pause
"He's a very quiet, steady young man, Friend Speakman says, and would be very little trouble to thee. I thought perhaps his board would buy the new yoke of oxen we must have in the fall, and the price of the fat ones might go to help set up Moses. But it's for thee to decide."
"I suppose we could take him," said Abigail, seeing that the decision was virtually made already; "there's the corner room, which we don't often use. Only, if he should get worse on our hands--"
"Friend Speakman says there's no danger. He is only weak-breasted, as yet, and clerking isn't good for him. I saw the young man at the store. If his looks don't belie him, he's well-behaved and orderly."
So it was settled that Richard Hilton the younger was to be an inmate of Friend Mitchenor's house during the summer.
At the end of ten days he came.
In the under-sized, earnest, dark-haired and dark-eyed young man of three-and-twenty, Abigail Mitchenor at once felt a motherly interest. Having received him as a temporary member of the family, she considered him entitled to the same watchful care as if he were in reality an invalid son. The ice over an hereditary Quaker nature is but a thin crust, if one knows how to break it; and in Richard Hilton's case, it was already broken before his arrival. His only embarrassment, in fact, arose from the difficulty which he naturally experienced in adapting himself to the speech and address of the Mitchenor family. The greetings of old Eli, grave, yet kindly, of Abigail, quaintly familiar and tender, of Moses, cordial and slightly condescending, and finally of Asenath, simple and natural to a degree which impressed him like a new revelation in woman, at once indicated to him his position among them. His city manners, he felt, instinctively, must be unlearned, or at least laid aside for a time. Yet it was not easy for him to assume, at such short notice, those of his hosts. Happening to address Asenath as "Miss Mitchenor," Eli turned to him with a rebuking face.
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