He saw that her nerves needed Space Research quieting, and he set about the task with such simple tact as he possessed.  His first step was to light his pipe in the most nonchalant

manner, and then he burst out laughing. "I'll hang that hickory up.  It has done too good service to be put to common use again.  Probably you never heard of a

skimelton, Alida.  Well, they are not so uncommon in this region.  I suppose I'll have to own up to taking part in one myself when I was a young chap.  They usually

are only rough larks and are taken good-naturedly.  I'm not on jesting terms with my neighbors, and they had no business to come here, but I wouldn't have made any

row if they hadn't insulted you."
Her head bowed very low as she faltered, "They've heard everything."
He came right to her and took her hand. "Didn't I hear everything before they did?"
"Well, Alida, I'm not only satisfied with you, but I'm very grateful to you.  Why shouldn't I be when you are a good Christian woman?  I guess I'm the one to be

suited, not Oakville. I should be as reckless as the devil if you should go away from me.  Don't I act like a man who's ready to stand up for and protect you?"
"Yes, too ready.  It would kill me if anything happened to you on my account."
"Well, the worst would happen," he said firmly, "if we don't go right on as we've begun.  If we go quietly on about our own affairs, we'll soon be let alone and

that's all we ask."
"Yes, yes indeed!  Don't worry, James.  I'll do as you wish."
"Famous!  You never said 'James' to me before.  Why haven't you?"
"I don't know," she faltered,  to her pale face.
"Well, that's my name," he resumed, laughing. "I guess it's because we are getting better acquainted.
She looked up and said impetuously, "You don't know how a woman feels when a man stands up for her as you did tonight."
"Well, I know how a man feels when there is a woman so well worth standing up for.  It was a lucky thing that I had nothing heavier in my hand than that hickory." 

All the while he was looking at her curiously; then he spoke his thought. "You're a quiet little woman, Alida, most times, but you're capable of a thunder gust now

and then."
"I'll try to be quiet at all times," she replied, with drooping Neo skin labeyes.