During this year Hiram had not seen much of Mr. Bronson, or Lettie. They had gone back to the West over the summer vacation, and when Lettie had returned for her last year at St. Beris, her father had not come on until near Thanksgiving.
Hiram had spoken with Lettie several times during the fail, and he thought that she had vastly improved in one way, at least.
She could not be any prettier, it seemed to him; but her manner was more cordial, and she always asked after Sister and Mrs. Atterson, and showed that her interest in him was not a mere surface interest.
One day, when Hiram had been shipping some of the last of his celery, Lettie met him on the street near the Scoville railroad station. Hiram was in his high boots, and overalls; and Lettie was with two of her girl friends.
But the girl stopped him and shook hands, and told him that her father had arrived and wanted to see him.
"We want you to come to dinner Saturday evening, Hiram. Father insists, and I shall be very much disappointed if you do not come."
"Why, that's very kind of you, Miss Lettie," responded the young farmer, slowly, trying to find some good reason for refusing the invitation. He was determined not to be patronized.
"Now, Hiram! This is very important. We want you to meet somebody," said Lettie, her eyes dancing. "Somebody very particular. Now! do say you'll come like a good boy, and not keep me teasing."
"Well, I'll come, Miss Lettie," he finally agreed, and she gave him a most charming smile.
Lettie's two friends had waited for her, very much amused.
"I declare, Let!" cried one of them--and her voice reached Hiram's ears quite plainly. "You do have the queerest friends. Why did you stop to speak to that yokel?"
"Hush! he'll hear you," said Miss Bronson; yet she smiled, too. "So you think Hiram is a yokel, do you?"
"Hiram!" repeated her friend. "Goodness me! I should think the name was enough. And those boots--and overalls!"
"Well," said Lettie, still amused, "I've seen my own father in just such a costume. And you know very well that he is a pretty good looking man, dressed up."
"But Let! your father's never a farmer$" gasped the other girl.
"Oh, she's just joking us," laughed the third girl. "Of course he's a farmer--he owns half a dozen farms. But he's the kind of a farmer who rides around in his automobile and looks over his crops."
"Well, and this young man may do that--in time," said Lettie. " At least, my father believes Hi is aimed that way."
"He doesn't look as though he had a cent," said the third girl.
"He is putting away more money of his very own in the bank than any boy we know, who works. Father says so," declared Lettie. "He says Hi has done wonderfully well with his crops this year--and he is only raising them on shares.
"Let me tell you, girls, the farmer is coming into his own, these days. That is a great saying of father's. He believes that the man who produces the food-stuffs for the rest of the world should have a satisfactory