THE THEORY OF COPERNICUS DROOP
The two sisters were together in their garden.
Rebecca Wise, turned forty and growing
slightly gray at the temples, was moving slowly from
one of her precious plants to the next, leaning over
each to pinch off a dead leaf or count the buds.
It was the historic month of May, 1898, and May is
the paradise of flower lovers.
Phoebe was eighteen years younger
than her sister, and the beauty of the village.
Indeed, many declared their belief that the whole State
of New Hampshire did not contain her equal.
She was seated on the steps of the
veranda that skirted the little white cottage, and
the absent gaze of her frank blue eyes was directed
through the gate at the foot of the little path bordered
by white rose-bushes. In her lap was a bundle
of papers yellowed by age and an ivory miniature,
evidently taken from the carved wooden box at her side.
Presently Rebecca straightened her
back with a slight grimace and looked toward her sister,
holding her mold-covered hands and fingers spread
away from her.
“Well,” she inquired, “hev ye found
Phoebe brought her gaze back from infinity and replied:
“No, I ain’t. Only
that one letter where Isaac Burton writes her that
the players have come to town.”
“I don’t see what good
them letters’ll do ye in the Shakespeare class,
Rebecca spoke listlessly more
interested in her garden than in her sister’s
“I don’t know,”
Phoebe rejoined, dreamily. “It’s awful
funny but whenever I take out these old
letters there comes over me the feelin’ that
I’m ’way off in a strange country and
I feel like somebody else.”
Rebecca looked up anxiously from her work.
“Them sort o’ philanderin’
notions are foolish, Phoebe,” she said, and
flicked a caterpillar over the fence.
Phoebe gave herself a little shake
and began to tie up the papers.
“That’s so,” she
replied. “But they will come when I get
these out, an’ I got ’em out thinkin’
the’ might be somethin’ about Shakespeare
in ’em for our class.”
She paused and looked wistfully at the letters again.
“Oh!” she cried, “how
I do wonder if he was among those players at the Peacock
Inn that day! You know ‘players’ is
what they called play-actors in those days, and he
was a play-actor, they say.”
“Did he live very far back,
then?” said Rebecca, wishing to appear interested,
but really intent upon a new sprout at the foot of
“Yes, three hundred years ago.
Three of these letters has a date in 1598 exactly.”
There was a long silence, and at length
Rebecca looked up from the ground to ascertain its
cause. She frowned and drew her aching back stiffly
at that pictur’!” she exclaimed. “I
declare to goodness, Phoebe Wise, folks’ll think
you’re vain as a pouter pigeon.”
Phoebe laughed merrily, tossed the
letters into the box and leaped to her feet.
The miniature at which she had been gazing was still
in her hands.
“Folks’ll never see me
lookin’ at it, Rebecca only you,”
Then with a coaxing tone and looking
with appealing archness at her sister, she went on:
“Is it really like me, Rebecca? Honest
The elder woman merely grunted and
moved on to the next bed, and Phoebe, with another
laugh, ran lightly into the house.
A few moments later she reappeared
at the front door with consternation on her face.
“Land o’ goodness, Rebecca!”
she cried, “do you know what time it is?
Near onto one o’clock, an’ I’ve got
to be at the Shakespeare class at half past.
We’ll have to dish up dinner right this minute,
and I don’t see how I can change my dress after
it an’ help with the dishes too.”
She whisked into the house again,
and Rebecca followed her as rapidly as possible.
She was very proud of her baby sister,
proud of her having been “clear through high
school,” and proud of her eminence in the local
literary society. There was certainly something
inspiring in having a sister who was first corresponding
secretary of the Women’s Peltonville Association
for the Study of Shakespearian History and Literature;
and it was simply wonderful how much poetry she could
repeat from the pages of her favorite author.
Peltonville Center, New Hampshire,
was one of those groups of neatly kept houses surrounding
a prettily shaded, triangular common which seem to
be characteristic of New England. Standing two
miles from the nearest railway station, this little
settlement possessed its own combined store and post-office,
from whose narrow veranda one might watch the rising
generation playing Saturday base-ball on the grassy
The traditional old meeting-house
stood on the opposite side of the common, facing the
store. The good old days of brimstone theology
were past, and the descendants of the godly Puritans
who raised this steeple “in the fear of the
Lord,” being now deprived of their chief source
of fear, found Sunday meetings a bore, and a village
pastor an unnecessary luxury.
Indeed, there seemed little need of
pastoral admonition in such a town as Peltonville
Center. There was a grimly commonplace and universal
goodness everywhere, and the village was only saved
from unconsciousness of its own perfection by the
individual shortcomings of one of its citizens.
Fortunately for the general self-complacence, however,
the necessary revealing contrast was found in him.
Copernicus Droop was overfond of the
bottle, and in spite of the prohibition laws of his
State, he proved himself a blessed example and warning
by a too frequent and unmistakable intoxication in
public. He was gentle and even apologetic in
his cups, but he was clearly a “slave of rum”
and his mission was therefore fulfilled.
On this first of May, 1898, a number
of idle young men sat in a row on the edge of the
store veranda. Some were whittling, some making
aimless marks in the dust with a stick. All leaned
limply forward, with their elbows on their knees.
It was clearly not a Sunday, for the
meeting-house was open, and from time to time, one
or perhaps two young women together passed into the
cool and silent room. The loungers at the store
let none escape their notice, and the name of each
damsel was passed down the line in an undertone as
its owner entered the church.
A lantern-jawed young farmer at the
end of the row slowly brushed the shavings from his
clothes and remarked:
“Thet’s the secón’
meetin’ of the Shekspeare class this month, ain’t
“Yep, an’ there’ll
be two more afore the summer boarders comes up ”
The second speaker would have continued,
but he was here interrupted by a third, who whispered
“Say, fellers, there goes Copernicus.”
All eyes were raised and unanimously
followed the shabby figure which had just emerged
from behind the church and now started into the road
leading away from the common toward the north.
“Walks pretty straight fer
him, don’t he?” snickered the first speaker.
“He’s not ben tight fer two
“Bet ye a jack-knife he’ll be spreein’
it fer all he’s wuth to-morrow.”
Fortunately these comments did not
reach the ears of their object, who, all unconscious
of the interest which he inspired, made good his way
at a fairly rapid pace.
Presently he stopped.
With muslin skirts swaying, hair rumpled,
and fair young face flushed with exertion, Phoebe
Wise was hurrying toward the common. She was
almost running in her haste, for she was late and the
Shakespeare class was a momentous institution.
“Oh, say, Cousin Phoebe,”
was the man’s greeting, “can you tell me
ef yer sister’s to home?”
The young girl came to a sudden full
stop in her surprise. This cousinly greeting
from the village reprobate was as exciting and as inexplicable
as it was unheard of.
“Why, Mr. Droop!” she exclaimed, “I I I
The truth was the truth, after all.
But it was hard on Rebecca. What could
this man want with her sister?
Droop nodded and passed on.
“Thank ye. Don’t stop fer
me,” he said.
Phoebe moved forward slowly, watching
Copernicus over her shoulder. She noted his steady
steps and pale face and, reassured, resumed her flying
progress with redoubled vigor. After all, Rebecca
was forty-two years old and well able to take care
Meanwhile, Rebecca Wise, having carefully
wrung out her dishcloth, poured out the water and
swept the little sink, was slowly untying her kitchen
apron, full of a thankful sense of the quiet hour before
her wherein to knit and muse beside the front window
of her little parlor.
In the centre of this room there stood
a wide, round table, bearing a large kerosene-lamp
and the week’s mending. At the back and
opposite the two windows stood the well-blacked, shiny,
air-tight stove. Above this was a wooden mantel,
painted to imitate marble, whereon were deposited
two photographs, four curious Chinese shells, and a
plaster cross to which there clung a very plaster
young woman in scant attire, the whole being marked
“Rock of Ages” in gilt letters at the base.
Horse-hair furniture in all the glory
of endless “tidies” was arranged against
walls bedight with a rainbow-like wilderness of morning-glories.
The ceiling was of white plaster, and the floor was
painted white and decked here and there with knitted
rag-carpets, on whose Joseph’s-coated surfaces
Rebecca loved to gaze when in retrospective mood.
In those humble floor-coverings her knowing eyes recognized
her first clocked stockings and Phoebe’s baby
cloak. There was her brother Robert’s wool
tippet embalmed in loving loops with the remnants of
his wife’s best Sunday-go-to-meetin’ ribbons.
These two had long been dead, but their sister’s
loving eyes recreated them in rag-carpet dreams wherein
she lived again those by-gone days.
Rebecca had just seated herself and
was unrolling her work, when her eyes caught a glimpse
of a man’s form through the window. He had
passed into her gate and was approaching the door.
She leaned forward for a good look and then dropped
back into her chair with a gasp of surprise.
“Copernicus Droop!” she exclaimed, “did
She sat in rigid astonishment until
she heard his timid knock, followed by the sound of
shoes vigorously wiped upon the door-mat.
“Well, come! Thet’s
a comfort!” she thought. “He won’t
muss the carpet” and she rose to
admit her visitor.
said Droop, timidly. “I seen Cousin Phoebe
a-runnin’ down the road, an’ I sorter
thought I’d run in an’ see how you was.”
“Come right in,” said
Rebecca, in non-committal tones. She shut the
door and followed him into the parlor.
“Here, give me yer hat,”
she continued. “Set right there. How
Droop obeyed. In a few moments
the two were seated facing each other, and Rebecca’s
needles were already busy. There was an interval
of awkward silence.
“Well, what did ye come fer?”
It was Rebecca who broke the spell.
In her usual downright fashion, she came to the point
at once. She thought it as well he should know
that she was not deceived by his polite pretence of
casual friendly interest.
Droop settled forward with elbows
on his knees and brought his finger-tips carefully
and accurately together. He found this action
amazingly promotive of verbal accuracy.
“Well, Cousin Rebecca,”
he began, slowly, “I’m lookin’ fer
a partner.” He paused, considering how
The spinster let her hands drop in
speechless wonder. The audacity of the man!
He to her a proposal! At
her age! From him!
Fortunately the next few words disclosed
her error, and she blushed for it as she lifted her
work again, turning nearer the window as if for better
“Yes,” Droop proceeded,
“I’ve a little business plan, an’
it needs capital an’ a partner.”
He waited, but there was no response.
“Capital an’ a partner,”
he repeated, “an’ intelligence an’
ambition. So I come to you.”
Rebecca turned toward him again, scarcely
less surprised now than before.
“To me! D’ye mean
to say ye’ve me in yer mind fer a partner with
Droop nodded slowly and compressed his lips.
“Well, I want to know!” she exclaimed,
“Oh, I know you ain’t
overly rich right now,” said Droop, apologetically;
“but it warn’t no secret thet ye might
hev hed Joe Chandler ef ye hadn’t ben so
shifty in yer mind an’ fell betwixt two stools an’
Lord knows Joe Chandler was as rich as as
Peter Craigin down to Keene pretty nigh.”
Again Rebecca blushed, but this time in anger.
“See here, Copernicus Droop ”
“Oh, I don’t mean nothin’
mean, now,” he insisted, earnestly. “I’m
jest leadin’ up to the pint sorter natural like breakin’
the thing easy, ye know.”
“What air you a-drivin’ at?”
Droop shifted uneasily in his seat
and ran his finger around inside of his collar before
“Ye see, it’s sorter hard
to explain. It’s this way. I hev a
mighty fine plan in my mind founded on a mixin’
up of astronomical considerations with prior inventions ”
“Mister Droop!” exclaimed
his hostess, gazing severely into his eyes, “ef
you think I’ll let you go to drinkin’ rum
“Honest to goodness, Miss Wise,
I’ve not teched a drop!” cried Droop,
leaping to his feet and leaning forward quickly.
“You may smell my breath ef ”
A violent push sent him back to his chair.
“Thet’ll do, Mr. Droop.
I’ll undertake to believe ye fer once,
but I’ll thank ye to speak plain English.”
“I’ll do my best,”
he sighed, plaintively. “I don’t blame
ye fer not takin’ to it quick. I didn’t
myself at first. Well here. Ye
see ye know ”
He paused and swallowed hard, gazing
at the ceiling for inspiration. Then he burst
“Ye know the graphophone an’
the kodak and the biograph an’ all them things
what ye can see down to Keene?”
Rebecca nodded slowly, with suspicion still in her
“Well, the’s a heap o’
things ben invented since the Centennial of 1876.
Don’t you s’pose they’ve made hills
o’ money out o’ them things with
patents an’ all?”
“An’ don’t you s’pose
that ef anybody in 1876 was to up an’ bring out
sech inventions all at once he’d be bigger than
all the other inventors put together!”
Rebecca slowly pushed her needle through
her hair, which was a sign of thoughtfulness.
“Wal, o’ course,”
she said, at length, “ef anybody hed aben smart
enough to’ve invented all them things in 1876
he’d aben a pretty big man, I guess.”
Droop edged forward eagerly.
that you hed married Joe Chandler back in 1876, an’
you was rich enough to back up an inventor like that,
an’ he come to you an’ offered to give
you half ef you’d up an’ help him put ’em
on the market, an’ s’posen’ ”
“What the land sake’s
the use o’ s’posin’?” Rebecca
cried, sharply. “This is 1898, an’
I ain’t married, thanks be to goodness!”
“Ah, but ye could be, ef we
was in 1876! There, there I know what
you want to say but ’taint so!
What would ye say ef I was to tell ye that all ye’ve
got to do is jest to get into a machine I’ve
got an’ I can take ye back to 1876 in next to
no time! What would ye say ”
“I’d say ye was tighter’n
a boiled owl, Copernicus Droop.”
“But I ain’t, I ain’t!”
he almost screamed. “I tell ye I hevn’t
teched liquor fer two days. I’ve reformed.
Ef ye won’t smell my breath ”
“Then you’re plum crazy,” she interrupted.
“No, nor crazy either,”
he insisted. “Why, the whole principle of
it is so awful simple! Ef you’d ben
to high school, now, an’ knew astronomy an’
all, you’d see right through it like nothin’.”
“Well, then, you c’n explain
it to them as hez ben to high school, an’
that’s sister Phoebe. Here she comes now.”
She went at once to the door to admit
the new-comer. Her visitor, watching the pretty
younger sister as she stepped in, rosy and full of
life, could not but remark the contrast between the
“Twenty-two years makes a heap
o’ difference!” he muttered. “But
Rebecca was jest as pretty herself, back in 1876.”
“Look, Rebecca!” cried
Phoebe, as she entered the door, “here’s
a new book Mrs. Bolton lent me to-day. All about
Bacon writing Shakespeare’s plays, an’
how Bacon was a son of Queen Elizabeth. Do you
s’pose he really did?”
“Oh, don’t ask me, child!”
was the nervous reply. “Mr. Droop’s
in the parlor.”
Phoebe had forgotten her short interview
with Droop, and she now snatched off her hat in surprise
and followed her elder sister, nodding to their visitor
as she entered.
“Set down, both o’ ye,”
said Rebecca. “Now, then, Mr. Droop, perhaps
Rebecca was far more mystified and
interested than she cared to admit. Her brusque
manner was therefore much exaggerated a
dissimulation which troubled her conscience, which
was decidedly of the tenderest New England brand.
Poor Copernicus experienced a sense
of relief as he turned his eyes to those of the younger
sister. She felt that Rebecca’s manner was
distinctly cold, and her own expression was the more
cordial in compensation.
“Why, Miss Phoebe,” he
said, eagerly, “I’ve ben tellin’
your sister about my plan to go back to the Centennial
year 1876, ye know.”
“To to what, Mr. Droop?”
Phoebe’s polite cordiality gave
place to amazed consternation. Droop raised a
“Now don’t you go to think
I’m tight or gone crazy. You’ll understand
it, fer you’ve ben to high school.
Now see! What is it makes the days go by ain’t
it the daily revolution of the sun?”
Phoebe put on what her sister always
called “that schoolmarm look” and replied:
“Why, it’s the turning
round of the earth on its axis once in ”
“Yes yes It’s
all one all one,” Droop broke in,
eagerly. “To put it another way, it comes
from the sun cuttin’ meridians, don’t it?”
Rebecca, who found this technical
and figurative expression beyond her, paused in her
knitting and looked anxiously at Phoebe, to see how
she would take it. After a moment of thought,
the young woman admitted her visitor’s premises.
“Very good! An’ you
know’s well’s I do, Miss Phoebe, that ef
a man travels round the world the same way’s
the sun, he ketches up on time a whole day when he
gets all the way round. In other words, the folks
that stays at home lives jest one day more than the
feller that goes round the world that way. Am
Droop glanced triumphantly at Rebecca.
This tremendous admission on her learned young sister’s
part stripped her of all pretended coldness. Her
deep interest was evident now in her whole pose and
“Now, then, jest follow me close,”
Droop continued, sitting far forward in his chair
and pointing his speech with a thin forefinger on his
“Ef a feller was to whirl clear
round the world an’ cut all the meridians in
the same direction as the sun, an’ he made the
whole trip around jest as quick as the sun did time
wouldn’t change a mite fer him, would
Phoebe gasped at the suggestion.
“Why, I should think of course ”
She stopped and put her hand to her head in bewilderment.
“Et’s a sure thing!”
Droop exclaimed, earnestly. “You’ve
said yerself that the folks who stayed to home would
live one day longer than the fellow that went round.
Now, ef that feller travelled round as fast as the
sun, the stay-at-homes would only be one day older
by the time he got back ain’t that
Both sisters nodded.
“Well, an’ the traveller
would be one day younger than they’d be.
An’ ain’t that jest no older at all than
when he started?”
“My goodness! Mr. Droop!”
Phoebe replied, feebly. “I never thought
“Well, ain’t it so?”
“Of course leastways why,
it must be!”
“All right, then!”
Droop rose triumphantly to his feet, overcome by his
“Follow out that same reasonin’
to the bitter end!” he cried, “an’
what will happen ef that traveller whirls round, cuttin’
meridians jest twice as fast as the sun goin’
the same way?”
He paused, but there was no reply.
“Why, as sure as shootin’,
I tell ye, that feller will get jest one day younger
fer every two whirls round!”
There was a long and momentous silence.
The tremendous suggestion had for the moment bereft
both women of all reasoning faculty.
At length the younger sister ventured
upon a practical objection.
“But how’s he goin’
to whirl round as fast as that, Mr. Droop?” she
Droop smiled indulgently.
“Et does sound outlandish, when
ye think how big the world is. But what if ye
go to the North Pole? Ain’t all the twenty-four
meridians jammed up close together round that part
of the globe?”
“Thet’s so,” murmured
Rebecca, “I’ve seen it many’s the
time on the map in Phoebe’s geography book.”
“Sure enough,” Droop rejoined.
“Then ain’t it clear that ef a feller’ll
jest take a grip on the North Pole an’ go whirlin’
round it, he’ll be cuttin’ meridians as
fast as a hay-chopper? Won’t he see the
sun gettin’ left behind an’ whirlin’
the other way from what it does in nature? An’
ef the sun goes the other way round, ain’t it
sure to unwind all the time thet it’s ben
Rebecca’s ball of yarn fell
from her lap at this, and, as she followed it with
her eyes, she seemed to see a practical demonstration
of Droop’s marvellous theory.
Phoebe felt all the tremendous force
of Droop’s logic, and she flushed with excitement.
One last practical objection was obvious, however.
“The thing must be all right,
Mr. Droop,” she said; “an’ come to
think of it, this must be the reason so many folks
have tried to reach the North Pole. But it never
has been reached yet, an’ how are you
agoin’ to do it?”
“You think it never hez,”
Copernicus replied. “The fact is, though,
that I’ve ben there.”
“You!” Phoebe cried.
“And is there a pole there?” Rebecca asked,
“The’s a pole there, an’
I’ve swung round it, too,” Droop replied,
sitting again with a new and delightful sense of no
longer being unwelcome.
“Here’s how ’twas.
About a year ago there come to my back door a strange-lookin’
man who’d hurt his foot some way. I took
him in an’ fixed him up you know
I studied for a doctor once an’ while
he was bein’ fixed up, he sorter took a fancy
to me an’ he begun to give me the story of his
life. He said he was born in the year 2582, an’
had ben takin’ what he called a historical
trip into the past ages. He went on at a great
rate like that, an’ I thought he was jest wanderin’
in his mind with the fever, so I humored him.
But he saw through me, an’ he wouldn’t
take no but I should go down into Burnham’s swamp
with him to see how he’d done it.
“Well, down we went, and right
spang in the thickest of the bushes an’ muck
we come across the queerest lookin’ machine that
ever ye see!
“Right there an’ then
he told me all the scientific talk about time an’
astronomy thet I’ve told you, an’ then
he tuck me into the thing. Fust thing I knew
he give a yank to a lever in the machinery an’
there was a big jerk thet near threw me on the back
o’ my head. I looked out, an’ there
we was a-flyin’ over the country through the
air fer the North Pole!”
“There, now!” cried Rebecca,
“didn’t Si Wilkins’ boy Sam say he
seen a comet in broad daylight last June?”
“Thet was us,” Droop admitted.
“And not a soul believed him,” Phoebe
“Well,” continued Droop,
“to make a long story short, thet future-man
whirled me a few times ‘round the North Pole unwound
jest five weeks o’ time, an’ back we come
to Peltonville a-hummin’!”
“And then?” cried the two women together.
“Ef you’ll believe me,
there we was back to the day he fust come an’
fust thing I knew, thet future-man was a-comin’
up to my back door, same ez before, a-beggin’
to hev his foot fixed. It was hard on him, but
I was convinced fer keeps.”
Copernicus shook his head sadly, with retrospective
“An’ where is the future-man now?”
“Tuk cold on his lungs at the
North Pole,” said Droop, solemnly. “Hed
pneumonia an’ up’n died.”
“But there warn’t nobody
round heerd of him except you,” said Rebecca.
“Who buried him?”
“Ah, thet’s one o’
the beauties o’ the hull business. He’d
showed me all the ropes on his machine his
Panchronicon, as he called it an’
so I up’n flew round the North Pole the opposite
way as soon’s he passed away, till I’d
made up the five weeks we’d lost. Then when
I got back it was five weeks after his funeral, an’
I didn’t hev to bother about it.”
The two sisters looked at each other,
quite overcome with admiration.
“My land!” Rebecca murmured,
gathering up her yarn and knitting again. “Sence
they’ve invented them X-rays an’ took to
picturin’ folks’ insides, I kin believe
“You don’t hev to take
my word fer it,” Droop exclaimed. “Ef
you’ll come right along with me this blessed
minute, I’ll show you the machine right now.”
“I’d jest love to see
it,” said Rebecca, her coldness all forgotten,
“but it’s mos’ too late fer
this afternoon. There’s the supper to get,
you know, an’ ”
“But the plan, Rebecca,”
Phoebe cried. “You’ve forgotten that
I haven’t heard Mr. Droop’s plan.”
“I wish ’t you’d
call me ‘Cousin Copernicus,’” said
Droop, earnestly. “You know I’ve
sworn off quit drinkin’ now.”
Phoebe blushed at his novel proposal
and insisted on the previous question.
“But what is the plan?” she said.
“Why, my idea is this, Cousin
Phoebe. I want we should all go back to 1876
again. Thet’s the year your sister could
hev married Joe Chandler ef she’d wanted to.”
Rebecca murmured something unintelligible,
blushing furiously, with her eyes riveted to her knitting.
Phoebe looked surprised.
“You know you could, Cousin
Rebecca,” Droop insisted. “Now what
I say is, let’s go back there. I’ll
invent the graphophone, the kodak, the vitascope,
an’ Milliken’s cough syrup an’ a
lot of other big modern inventions. Rebecca’ll
marry Chandler, an’ she an’ her husband
can back up my big inventions with capital. Why,
Cousin Phoebe,” he cried, with enthusiasm, “we’ll
all hev a million apiece!”
The sentimental side of Droop’s
plan first monopolized Phoebe’s attention.
“Rebecca Wise!” she exclaimed,
turning with mock severity to face her sister.
“Why is it I’ve never heard tell about
this love affair before now? Why, Joe Chandler’s
just a fine man. Is it you that broke his
heart an’ made him an old bachelor all his life?”
Rebecca must have dropped a stitch,
for she turned toward the window again and brought
her knitting very close to her face.
“What brought ye so early to
home, Phoebe?” she said. “Warn’t
there no Shakespeare meetin’ to-day?”
“No. Mis’ Beecher
was to lead, an’ she’s been taken sick,
so I came right home. But you can’t sneak
out of answerin’ me like that, Miss Slyboots,”
Phoebe continued, in high spirits.
Seating herself on the arm of her
sister’s chair, she put her arms about her neck
and, bending over, whispered:
“Tell me honest, now, Rebecca,
did Joe Chandler ever propose to you?”
“No, he never did!” the
elder sister exclaimed, rising suddenly.
“Now, Mr. Droop,” she
continued, “your hull plan is jest too absurd
to think of ”
Droop tried to expostulate, but she
raised her voice, speaking more quickly.
“An’ you come ‘round
again after supper an’ we’ll tell ye what
we’ve decided,” she concluded.
The humor of this reply was lost on
Copernicus, but he moved toward the door with a sense
of distinct encouragement.
“Remember the rumpus we’ll
make with all them inventions,” Droop called
back as he walked toward the gate, “think of
the money we’ll make!”
But Rebecca was thinking of something
very different as she stood at the front door gazing
with softened eyes at the pasture and woods beyond
the road. She seemed to see a self-willed girl
breaking her own heart and another’s rather
than acknowledge a silly error. She was wondering
if that had really been Rebecca Wise. She felt
again all the old bewitching heart-pangs, sweetened
and mellowed by time, and she wondered if she were
now really Rebecca Wise.