The Gentleman from Indiana (Chapter 2, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 2

It was June. From the patent inner columns of the "Carlow County Herald"
might be gleaned the information (enlivened by cuts of duchesses) that the
London season had reached a high point of gaiety; and that, although the
weather had grown inauspiciously warm, there was sufficient gossip for the
thoughtful. To the rapt mind of Miss Selina Tibbs came a delicious moment
of comparison: precisely the same conditions prevailed in Plattville.

Not unduly might Miss Selina lay this flattering unction to her soul, and
well might the "Herald" declare that "Carlow events were crowding thick
and fast." The congressional representative of the district was to deliver
a lecture at the court-house; a circus was approaching the county-seat,
and its glories would be exhibited "rain or shine"; the court had cleared
up the docket by sitting to unseemly hours of the night, even until ten
o'clock--one farmer witness had fallen asleep while deposing that he "had
knowed this man Hender some eighteen year"--and, as excitements come
indeed when they do come, and it seldom rains but it pours, the identical
afternoon of the lecture a strange lady descended from the Rouen
Accommodation and was greeted on the platform by the wealthiest citizen of
the county. Judge Briscoe, and his daughter, Minnie, and (what stirred
wonder to an itch almost beyond endurance) Mr. Fisbee! and they then drove
through town on the way to the Briscoe mansion, all four, apparently, in a
fluster of pleasure and exhilaration, the strange lady engaged in earnest
conversation with Mr. Fisbee on the back seat.

Judd Bennett had had the best stare at her, but, as he immediately fell
into a dreamy and absent state, little satisfaction could be got from him,
merely an exasperating statement that the stranger seemed to have a kind
of new look to her. However, by means of Miss Mildy Upton, a domestic of
the Briscoe household, the community was given something a little more
definite. The lady's name was Sherwood; she lived in Rouen; and she had
known Miss Briscoe at the eastern school the latter had attended (to the
feverish agitation of Plattville) three years before; but Mildy confessed
her inadequacy in the matter of Mr. Fisbee. He had driven up in the
buckboard with the others and evidently expected to stay for supper Mr.
Tibbs, the postmaster (it was to the postoffice that Miss Upton brought
her information) suggested, as a possible explanation, that the lady was
so learned that the Briscoes had invited Fisbee on the ground of his being
the only person in Plattville they esteemed wise enough to converse with
her; but Miss Tibbs wrecked her brother's theory by mentioning the name of
Fisbee's chief.

"You see, Solomon," she sagaciously observed, "if that were true, they
would have invited him, instead of Mr. Fisbee, and I wish they had. He
isn't troubled with malaria, and yet the longer he lives here the
sallower-looking and sadder-looking he gets. I think the company of a
lovely stranger might be of great cheer to his heart, and it will be
interesting to witness the meeting between them. It may be," added the
poetess, "that they have already met, on his travels before he settled
here. It may be that they are old friends--or even more."

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