Rushing Her

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Rushing Her  (1916) 
by Ellis Parker Butler

Extracted from Green Book magazine, July 1916, pp. 596-599. Accompanying illustrations by Herbert Norton Stoops omitted.

Rushing Her


By Ellis Parker Butler

Author of "Pigs If Pigs," the "Philo Gubb" and "Jabez Bunker" stories, etc.

ABOUT four miles out of the village of Roxton, in the Catskill Mountains, Mary Hartley was kneeling over a small flower-bed that made a circle in the small lawn in front of her small farmhouse. She was plump, with a full, well-rounded face and arms that swelled beautifully from strong, sun-burned wrists. She wore a blue cotton gown, shaped to her form so that every plump curve showed enticingly. She had made the gown herself. The perfect fit of it, as well as the neatness of everything about her small place, and her brisk, businesslike movements, told the truth: she was a wholesome, healthy, efficient young woman. She was a widow. She was also twenty-four years old.

Mary Hartley looked up from under her sunbonnet as a rig drove into the yard. "Long John" Bain was driving, and when he came opposite the flower-bed he pulled gently on the reins and his team came to a stop.

"Morning, John," said Mary pleasantly. "I was just wondering how your ma was."

"Morning, Mary. Ma's dead."

Long John folded one long leg over the other and tipped his hat back on his head. He turned a little sideways on the waggon scat and seemed in no haste. Mary, however, arose briskly and dusted the palms of her hands. She gathered up her trowel and the little bunch of weeds she had plucked from among her flowers.

"I reckon you want me to go on down, then," she said. "Your ma died rather sudden when she got 'round to it, didn't she? But such things are bound to happen. She's been a sufferer a long while. Just wait till I run into the house and I wont keep you waiting a minute."

"Well, I don't know as you need rush much, Mary," said John slowly. "Mis' Sparks and Mis' Crandall come right over and fixed things for the funeral. I sort of come up about something else, Mary."

The young woman reddened slightly.

"Your husband's been dead nigh onto two years now, Mary," said John. "I aint nothing to hold me back, now that Ma is dead. You know what I asked you before you married Henry, Mary."

"It aint likely I'd forget," said Mary. "I told you then, straight out, John, that if it hadn't been for Henry I'd 've been glad to marry you." '

"You don't like me no less now, Mary, do you? I aint done aught to make you change?"

"No, you aint done nothing, John. I like you just as well as ever I did."

She walked to the wagon and stood beside it, resting her trowel on one of the iron tires.

"I guess you like me well enough," said John. "I don't see nothing in the way of our getting married now."

Mary tapped on the tire with the trowel. She looked up into John's face frankly.

"Nothing but one thing, John," she said. "I suppose I ought to do the best I can for myself. You don't suppose you could put off having my answer for a month or two, do you?"

"Well, I sort of calculated to rush things through a little quick, now that Ma's gone," said John in his slow drawl. "Of course, I don't want to be ornery, no ways. If you got any good reason, Mary—"

"If it's just the same to you, John," said Mary, "I wish you'd sort of leave your offer open awhile. You know I think a heap of you."

"Well, if you've got any good reason," said John doubtfully.

"I'll tell you straight out," said Mary. "William Carbury acts like he was lookin' my way, John. I can't make out anything sure about it yet. He's a slow mover, the same as you are, but it seems to me he is lookin' my way a little. It don't seem hardly right I should rush in and get married to somebody else when a moneyed man like William Carbury is taking notice. He has a fine farm, John. He has money in the bank. He has the best house on the brook. Seems only fair you should give me time to find out whether William means anything or not."

John looked off at the mountain-tops and then down at Mary's face.

"I don't want to ask you to do nothing unreasonable, Mary," he said. "I want to do what's fair."

"It oughtn't to take William long to make up his mind," said Mary. "I'll work to get him to rush as much as he can be made to. I brought Henry around in almost no time at all, you'll remember."

"That's true. I didn't have no cause to complain about that. You didn't keep me waiting more than two months, and it was right in the haying season, when time passed quick. About how much notice is William taking?"

"Well, not as much as I'd like," admitted Mary.

"Kissed ye?"

"Oh, no!"

"Held your hand any?"

"Oh, no!"

"Made eyes at ye?"

"No, not quite that yet."

John sighed.

"Well, Mary," he said. "I wont rush ye. I don't want to be unfair to any man or woman and I'll wait until you see how things are likely to turn out. I done it with Henry and I've still got my chance with you, and I'll take your word you'll hurry William all you can. It's only fair a young woman should have her chance at the best. I'm willing to abide by anything that's reasonable."

"Thank you, John," she said, and gave him her hand. He shook it warmly—so warmly that her knuckle bones were crushed into each other, but she bore the pain with a smile—and he drove out of the yard and down the road toward his home.

{[di|A}} MONTH later he was driving past Mary Hartley's on the way to the sawmill up the brook, and he pulled up his team and walked across the lawn to the house. He could hear Mary singing in the kitchen. When he rapped on the door she came, standing there and smiling.

"Morning, Mary! Was driving by and thought I'd stop and see if William had made any signs yet."

"Not much yet, John. I don't seem to see him as often as I'd like to. Times I have seen him he seemed to be moving onwards a little."

"Kissed ye yet?"

"Oh, no!"

"Held your hand any?"

"Oh, no!"

"Made eyes at ye?"

"No, not quite that yet."

"Well, Mary, I don't want to rush ye. I want to give ye a fair chance at William. I'll wait until you see how things are likely to turn out"

{[di|S}}OME five weeks later Mary was driving into Roxton, and as she passed John Bain's he came out of his barn, clad in overalls and carrying a pitchfork. He walked up to her buckboard.

"Morning, Mary!" William declared, "anything yet?"

"Morning, John. Not yet. He was up to my house yesterday, though."

"Taking any more notice?"

"Seemed to me, John, he was a little bit more perky."

"Kissed ye yet?"

"No, he aint got that far yet, John."

"Held your hand any?"

"No, he aint tried that yet."

"Made eyes at ye?"

"Well, sort of. He has what you might call made eyes, John."

"That's good!" said John with satisfaction. "Keep rushing him all you can, Mary."

"I will, John. Get up, Topsy!"

{[di|T}}HE haying season came on and John had his hands full. There was an enormous hay crop all through the mountains and hay-makers were scarce. It was August before John had time to see Mary again. He stopped at her gate on a trip up the valley to look at three fresh cows Ben Millidge had for sale. Mary saw him and came running down to the gate.

"Morning, John!"

"Morning, Mary! How does William seem to be progressing?"

"I can't complain. Sometimes I wish he'd rush a little more, but things seem to be going along."

"Kissed ye yet?"

"He aint hardly got up to that point yet, John."

"Held your hand any?"

"He's held it a bit, John."

"That's good. Seems like he was making some progress. Well, I don't want to rush things more than is proper. Get up, there!"

August, hot by day and cool by night, passed slowly for John. His farm work gave him plenty of occupation for his hands, but his heart was idle and had nothing to do but yearn for Mary. The first week of September found him in Roxton, makings purchases at the general store.

"Heard about William Carbury?" asked the storekeeper as he tied up a bag of sugar for John.

"No, what?"

"Got himself engaged to be married."

"You don't say! I reckoned he would, from what I heard here and there," said John.

"He took his time to it, anyway," said the storekeeper, "but he got a fine woman when he got around to it."

"None finer," said John with feeling. "None finer in the whole country."

"Well, I don't know as I'd go so far as to say that, John," said the storekeeper. "She's fine and healthy and she'll make him a good wife, but I guess there's as good fish in the sea as has been caught. Plenty of other fine girls up here in the mountains, without going further. Take Mary Hartley, now."

"Hey?" cried John. "Take who?"

"Mary Hartley, Henry's widow, I said," said the storekeeper. "I'd call her a finer piece of woman-flesh any day than what William chose."

"And blame right about it, too!" exclaimed John heartily. He drove home, forgetting matches, canned beans, smoking tobacco and wire nails. He drove past his own place and right on to Mary Hartley's. He drove right into Mary's dooryard and jumped from his seat and walked straight to the kitchen door. A buckboard that was not Mary's was standing in the shade of the barn.

JOHN rapped loudly on the screen door. Mary came to the door. Never had she looked so beautiful to John.

"Come out here," he said.

Mary opened the screen door and came out upon the covered porch.

"What is it, John?" she asked.

"I hear how William Carbury is goin' to marry some other girl," said John.

"That's so," admitted Mary.

"Well, I can't complain of the time I had to wait," he said. "Not but what it seemed longer than it was. But now—"

"Wait, John!" she said hastily. "I want to tell you something. Joe Underhill is in my parlor. I've been thinking for some time that Joe was taking notice, but that he was standing off because of William. I don't want you to do anything but what is fair, John, but Joe has the finest place over Dry Brook way."

"Kissed ye yet?"

"Why, no, John; he's only been in the parlor five minutes."

"Held your hand any yet?"

"He hasn't had opportunity, John. You mustn't be unreasonable."

"I don't aim to be, Mary. Has he made eyes at ye?"

"Now, John! how could I see if he did or not in that dark parlor?"

"I waited for Henry," said John, "and I waited for William—"

"Well, all I ask is that you give Joe a chance to see what he thinks of doing," pleaded Mary. "If he don't come 'round soon—"

"I haven't rushed you," said John sulkily. "I've give you time with William—hog ding it! a man that haint kissed ye and haint held your hand and haint made eyes at ye hasn't no call to keep me waiting! No, by cats! Maybe I'm an impatient man—"

Mary flared up.

"You're an unreasonable man, like all men are!" she cried. "What call have you to talk about did a man kiss me, or hold my hand, or make eyes at me? I'd like to know when you ever made eyes at me, or held my hand, or kissed me, John Bain, that you come talking and asking—"

He took one long step forward, and the next thing Mary said was:

"John! John! Stop! Oh, John—you'll break my ribs!"

But he did not stop.

"Oh, well, if that's how you feel about it!" she said, in a voice that was smothered in his coat, and after that he felt absolutely happy but a little ashamed, for he had a feeling that he had rather rushed Mary.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1937, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 85 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.