"I'm afraid I shouldn't be of much use," Austen answered. "They'd have given me a back seat, too."
The Widow Peasley's was a frame and gabled house of Revolutionary days with a little terrace in front of it and a retaining wall built up from the sidewalk. Austen, on the steps, stood gazing across at a square mansion with a wide cornice, half hidden by elms and maples and pines. It was set far back from the street, and a driveway entered the picket- fence and swept a wide semicircle to the front door and back again. Before the door was a sleigh of a pattern new to him, with a seat high above the backs of two long-bodied, deep-chested horses, their heads held with difficulty by a little footman with his arms above him. At that moment two figures in furs emerged from the house. The young woman gathered up the reins and leaped lightly to the box, the man followed; the little groom touched his fur helmet and scrambled aboard as the horses sprang forward to the music of the softest of bells. The sleigh swept around the curve, avoided by a clever turn a snow-pile at the entrance, the young woman raised her eyes from the horses, stared at Austen, and bowed. As for Austen, he grew warm as he took off his hat, and he realized that his hand was actually trembling. The sleigh flew on up the hill, but she turned once more to look behind her, and he still had his hat in his hand, the snowflakes falling on his bared head. Then he was aware that James Redbrook was gazing at him curiously.
"That's Flint's daughter, ain't it?" inquired the member from Mercer. "Didn't callate you'd know her."
Austen flushed. He felt exceedingly foolish, but an answer came to him.
"I met her in the hospital. She used to go there to see Zeb Meader."
"That's so," said Mr. Redbrook; "Zeb told me about it, and she used to come to Mercer to see him after he got out. She ain't much like the old man, I callate."
"I don't think she is," said Austen.
"I don't know what she's stayin' with that feller Crewe for," the farmer remarked; of all the etarnal darn idiots--why, Brush Bascom and that Botcher and the rest of 'em are trailin' him along and usin' him for the best thing that ever came down here. He sets up to be a practical man, and don't know as much as some of us hayseeds in the back seats. Where be you goin'?"