Josiah's Sweetheart

What Katy learned one spring day to her surprise,
Josiah's chagrin and Martha's amusement.

"Looks like it's spring, all right," Josiah chuckled from his vantage-point at the front window.

Martha, vigorously rubbing-in handcream after washing the supper dishes, went to stand beside him. My curiosity piqued, I joined the observers at their post overlooking the whole street.

Evening falls gently these days as though the sun were loath to leave and the street lights glimmer faintly in the rosy afterglow. Here and there clusters of middle-sized children were tossing a lazy ball back and forth or, draped over a tangle of bicycles, were discussing whatever it is that children of that age find pertinent. An abandoned tricycle with a sled tied on for a trailer mutely attested to the earlier activities of younger fry already on their way through the bath and bed routine.

These were not the attractions that held Jos' and Martha's attention, but rather the young couples who were moving through the twilight to the tune of some mystic melody within.

On the porch across the street sat a boy and girl, a pile of books ignored at their feet, heads so close together that a long strand of her hair lay on his sleeve. Another pair ambled along the sidewalk, hands interlocked and swinging, their shoulders bumping "accidentally" now and then. At the corner mailbox two more star-crossed souls had met and were talking with shy awkwardness, new to the age-old game.

Romance blooms along with the spring flowers. The restlessness engendered by Mother Nature's mildly teasing spring mood brings all her young things out into the soft, sweet night in search of companionship. They are beautiful to watch, these limpid lotharios and their dainty damozels.

"Might have been us a few years back, Katy Louise." Josiah said, slipping his arm around my shoulders.

"Would you two like to be alone?" Martha teased with a broad smile on her face.

"Josiah, behave yourself. It's hardly likely you remember mooning around me at that age since we didn't meet till I was nineteen. You must be thinking of some other old flame." I pretended to be miffed as I slipped away from him and settled myself with my knitting.

"Tell me, Uncle Jos, did you have many girl friends before you met Aunt Katy? Just think, I might be sitting here with someone else entirely." Martha continued her teasing.

Josiah still stood at the window, lost in thought, then he fetched a huge sigh and walked heavily to his chair where he sank into a ponderous brown study. I was not entirely sure whether my puckish husband was about to spin us a web of fancy or whether he had recalled some long forgotten romance and was tasting its bitter-sweetness again. After all, I had beaux a-plenty before I met Jos, one or two that I had seriously considered as a possible husband. It was not unthinkable that Josiah had been likewise attracted.

"Well, Uncle, are you going to tell us about your childhood sweetheart or are we never to know?" Martha persisted.

"Sweetheart?" Josiah echoed, looking at me with musing eyes. "I never had any sweetheart but Katy Lou. Unless...... maybe Angeline Brisbane."

"Ange Brisbane Oates?" I gasped, dropping my knitting from startled hands and knocking the ball of yarn to the floor. "My grief, no wonder she was always so nasty nice to me. I never could understand it before and you knew it all the time."

"I didn't know Ange wasn't nice to you, Katy. But I did sort of stop seeing her after I met you at the Sunday School picnic that day." Jos admitted.

A horrid thought struck me, one I hesitated even to voice though it shouldn't matter after so many years had passed. I just had to know.

"You didn't by any chance take Ange to that picnic and forget all about her after we met, did you, Jos?" I demanded, peering sternly over the tops of my eyeglasses.

"Well, now, Katy, I didn't 'xactly -take- her. We all went in the hay wagon together, you recollect, but I might have sat beside her." Josiah had the good grace to squirm a bit.

"And might you have sat beside her to eat lunch?" I prodded, ignoring Martha's smothered giggles.

"Well, now that you mention it, I do recall something of the sort." Josiah admitted reluctantly. "But we'd never had what you might call an understanding or any such."

"Maybe -you- didn't, Josiah Eldwood, but I'll bet you a pretty penny that Angeline did. Oh, my soul! All those years when I tried to be friendly she must have thought I knew I'd turned you away from her and was flaunting it in her face."

Rama had taken advantage of my preoccupation to carry off my ball of yarn. Martha untangled it from two chairs, an end table ,rescued it from the cat's paws, rewound and replaced it on my lap.

"Don't look so tragic, dear," she said. "You really didn't know so it's Uncle Jos who should be feeling remorseful, if anyone needs to after all this time. And he looks rather pleased with himself, I would say."

He did at that, slyly grinning at me with twinkling eyes, and suddenly the whole thing struck me as being very funny. Rama accepted our laughter as a tribute to his clowning and redoubled his efforts to amuse us so the evening settled into a happy mood after all.