And return he did. Darkness once more had settled in when the familiar masculine tread was heard at the door. "Harry!" a chorus of voices broke out. The young fellow was quite engulfed by the arms of the children. Janet clung to him violently.
"There, there, now," he exclaimed in suprise, "You'd think I'd been gone for a year!"
"Where did you go?" Mrs. Drewry asked anxiously.
"Oh, is that it?" the boy replied. "How dull I am! Well, I said I planned to work hard and long to pay off that debt. I figured I might as well get a head start ." He looked around at the faces surrounding him, "Maybe I should have been clearer about my intentions," he added.
Suddenly, Meredith stepped back, aghast. "You mean," she stammered, "you mean, you went and got a job working for those Scalawags, the Harveys?"
"Well," he demanded, "who else didn't get their property burned out and salted? Besides, their money is worth as much as anybody elses." At the aghast and even horrified looks on their faces, he said quietly, "I said I sold myself out..." With that he turned and left the barn.
After a pause, Mrs. Drewry said, "He's right; and he does have debt to pay off..." She got no further, for Meredith, feeling it was her fault that he was being ostracized, rushed out the door after Harry. He was walking slowly towards the trees, his chin on his chest, wondering if now he would have to leave. Just as he reached the treeline, Meredith caught up with him.
"Harry," she gasped, "Harry, please...I'm sorry!"
He had turned toward when he heard her voice and now he stood looking down at her. Being dark, he couldn't see her tears, but he could hear them. He didn't say anything, but his attitude asked, 'are you sure?'
"Please, Harry. Come home." She was somewhat frightened by his silence. He felt her hand slip into his. "Please, Harry?"
He started to amble back towards the barn, Meredith still clinging to his hand.
To be continued...