Other Things Being Equal
Part 3 out of 5
mustache, the girl's heart beating suffocatingly. When he spoke, his voice
sounded oddly clear in the hushed night air.
"What do you mean by 'like that'?"
Her little hand was clinched tight as it lay on his arm. The perfect
silence that followed the words of each made every movement significant.
"You know, --as a woman loves the man she would marry, not as she loves a
"The difference is not clear to me--but--how did you learn the difference?"
"How dare you?" she cried, flashing a pair of dark, wet eyes upon him.
"In such a case, 'I dare do all that may become a man.' Besides, even if
there is a difference, I still ask you to be my wife. You would not regret
it, Ruth, I think."
His voice was not soft, but there was a certain strained pleading about it
that pained her inexpressibly.
"Louis," she said, with slow distinctness, her hand moving down until it
touched his, "I never thought of this as a possibility. You know how much
I have always loved you, dear; but oh, Louis, will it hurt you very much,
will you forgive me if I have to say no, I cannot be your wife?"
"Wait. I wish you to consider this well. I am offering you all that I
have in the world; it is not despicable. Your family, I know, would be
pleased. Besides, it would be well for you--God knows, not because I am
what I am, but for other reasons. Wait. I beg of you not to answer me
till you have thought it over. You know me; I am no saint, but a man who
would give his life for you. I ask of you nothing but the right to guard
yours. Do not answer me now."
They had turned the corner of their block.
"I need no time," said Ruth, with a sad sob in her voice; "I cannot marry
you, Louis. My answer would be the same to-morrow or at the end of all
time, --I can never, never be your wife."
"It is then as I feared, --anything."
The girl's bowed head was the only answer to his bitter words.
"Well," he said, with a hard laugh, "that ends it, then. Don't let it
bother you. Your answer has put it entirely from my mind. I should be
pleased if you would forget it as readily as I shall. I hardly think we
shall meet in the morning. I am going down to the club now. Good-by;
He held out his hand carelessly; Ruth carried it in both hers to her lips.
Being at the gate, he lifted his hat with a smile and walked away. Ruth
did not smile; neither did Arnold when he had turned from her.
Beacham's lies in a dimple of the inner coast range, and is reached
nowadays through one of the finest pieces of engineering skill in the
State. The tortuous route through the mountains, over trestle-bridges that
span what seem, from the car-windows, like bottomless chasms, needs must
hold some compensation at the end to counterbalance the fears engendered on
the way. The higher one goes the more beautiful becomes the scenery among
the wild, marvellous redwoods that stand like mammoth guides pointing
heavenward; and Beacham's realizes expectation.
It is a quiet little place, with its one hotel and two attached cottages,
its old, disused saw-mill, its tiny schoolhouse beyond the fairy-like
woods, its one general merchandise store, where cheese and calico, hats and
hoes, ham and hominy, are forthcoming upon solicitation. It is by no means
a fashionable resort; the Levices had searched for something as unlike the
Del Monte and Coronado as milk is unlike champagne. They were looking for
a pretty, healthful spot, with good accommodations and few social
attractions, and Beacham's offered this.
They were not disappointed. Ruth's anticipation was fulfilled when she saw
the river. Russian River is about as pretty a stream as one can view upon
a summer's day. Here at Beacham's it is very narrow and shallow, with low,
shelving beaches on either bank; but in the tiny row-boat which she
immediately secured, Ruth pushed her way into enchantment. The river winds
in and out through exquisite coves entangled in a wilderness of brambles
and lace-like ferns that are almost transparent as they bend and dip toward
the silvery waters; while, climbing over the rocky cliffs, run bracken and
the fragrant yerba-buena, till, on high, they creep as if in awe about the
great redwoods and pines of the forest.
Morning and night Ruth, in her little boat, wooed the lisping waters.
Often of a morning her mother was her companion; later on, her father or
little Ethel Tyrrell; in the evening one of the Tyrrell boys, generally
Will, was her gallant chevalier. But it was always Ruth who rowed, --Ruth
in her pretty sailor blouses, with her strong round arms and steadily
browning hands; Ruth, whose creamy face and neck remained provokingly
unreddened, and took on only a little deeper tint, as if a dash of bistre
had been softly applied. It was pleasant enough rowing down-stream with
Ruth; she always knew when to sing "Nancy Lee," and when "White Wings"
sounded prettiest. There were numerous coves too, where she loved to beach
her boat, --here to fill a flask with honey-sweet water from a rollicking
little spring that came merrily dashing over the rocks, here to gather some
delicate ferns or maiden-hair with which to decorate the table, or the
trailing yerba-buena for festooning the boat. But Ethel Tyrrell, aged
three, thought they had the "dolliest" time when she and Ruth, having rowed
a space out of sight, jumped out, and taking off their shoes and stockings
and making other necessary preliminaries to wading, pattered along over the
pebbly bottom, screaming when a sharp stone came against their tender feet,
and laughing gleefully when the water rose a little higher than they had
bargained for; then, when quite tired, they would retire to the beach or
the boat and dry themselves with the soft damask of the sun.
Ruth was happy. There were moments when the remembrance of her last
meeting with Louis came like a summer cloud over the ineffable brightness
of her sky, and she felt a sharp pang at her heart; still, she thought, it
was different with Louis. His feeling for her could not be so strong as to
make him suffer poignantly over her refusal. She was almost convinced that
he had asked her more from a whim of good-fellowship, a sudden desire,
perhaps a preference for her close companionship when he did marry, than
from any deeper emotion. In consequence of these reflections her musings
were not so sad as they might otherwise have been.
Her parents laughed to see how she revelled in the freedom of the
old-fashioned little spot, which, though on the river, was decidedly "out
of the swim." It was late in the season, and there were few guests at the
hotel. The Levices occupied one of the cottages, the other being used by a
pair of belated turtle-doves, --the wife a blushing dot of a woman, the
husband an overgrown youth who bent over her in their walks like a devoted
weeping-willow; there was a young man with a consumptive cough, a natty
little stenographer off on a solitary vacation, and the golden-haired
Tyrrell family, little and big, for Papa Tyrrell could not enjoy his
hard-earned rest without one and all. They were such a refined, happy,
sweet family, for all their pinched circumstances, that the Levices were
attracted to them at once. To be with Mrs. Tyrrell one whole day, Mrs.
Levice said was a liberal education, --so bright, so uncomplaining, so
ambitious for her children was she, and such a help and inspiration to her
hard-worked husband. Mr. Levice tramped about the woods with Tyrrell and
brier-wood pipes, and appreciated the moral bravery of a man who struggled
on with a happy face and small hope for any earthly rest. But the
children!--Floy with her dreamy face and busy sketch-book, Will with his
halo of golden hair, his manly figure and broad, open ambitions, Boss with
his busy step and fishing-tackle, and baby Ethel, the wee darling, who ran
after Ruth the first time she saw her and begged her to come and play with
her; ever since, she formed a part of the drapery of Ruth's skirt or a
rather cumbersome necklace about her neck. Every girl who has been
debarred the blessing of babies in the house loves them promiscuously and
passionately. Ruth was no exception; it amused the ladies to watch her
cuddle the child and wonder aloud at all her baby-talk.
Will was her next favorite satellite. A young girl with a winsome,
sympathetic face, and hearty manner, can easily become the confidante of a
fine fellow of fourteen. Will, with his arm tucked through hers, would
saunter around after dusk and tell her all his ambitions.
The soft, starry evenings up in the mountains, where heaven seems so near,
are just the time for such talk.
They were walking thus one evening toward the river, Ruth in a creamy gown
and with a white burnous thrown over her head, Will holding his hat in his
hand and letting the sweet air play through his hair, as he loved to do.
"What do you think are the greatest professions, Miss Ruth?" asked the boy
"Well, law is one--" she began.
"That's the way Papa begins," he interrupted impatiently; "but I'll tell
you what I think is the greatest. Guess, now."
"The ministry?" she ventured.
"Oh, of course; but I'm not good enough for that, --that takes exceptions.
"Well, there are the fine arts, or soldiery, --that is it. You would be a
brave soldier, Willikins, my man."
"No, sir," he replied, flinging back his head; "I don't want to take lives;
I want to save them."
"You mean a physician, Will?"
"That's it--but not exactly--I mean a surgeon. Don't you think that takes
bravery? And it's a long sight better than being a solider; he draws blood
to kill, we do it to save. What do you think, Miss Ruth?"
"Indeed, you are right," she answered dreamily, her thoughts wandering
beyond the river. So they walked along; and as they were about to descent
the slope, a man in overalls and carrying a leather bag came suddenly upon
them in the gloaming. He stood stock-still, his mouth gaping wide.
When Ruth saw it was Ben, the steward, she laughed.
"Why, Ben!" she exclaimed.
The man's mouth slowly closed, and his hand went up to his cap.
"Begging your pardon, Miss, --I mean Her pardon, --the Lord forgive me, I
took you for the Lady Madonna and the blessed Boy with the shining hair.
Now, don't be telling of me, will you?"
"Indeed, we won't; we'll keep the pretty compliment to ourselves. Have you
the mail? I wonder if there is a letter for me."
Ben immediately drew out his little pack, and handed her two. It was still
light enough to read; and as Ben moved on, she stood and opened them.
"This," she announced in a matter-of-course way, "is from Miss Dorothy
Gwynne, who requests the pleasure of my company at a high-tea next
Saturday. That, or the hay-ride, Will? And this--this--"
It was a simple envelope addressed to
Miss RUTH LEVICE--
. . . County--
It was the sight of the dashes that caused the hiatus in her sentence, and
made her heart give one great rushing bound. The enclosure was to the
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 18, 188--.
MISS RUTH LEVICE:
MY DEAR FRIEND, --That you may not denounce me as too presumptuous, I shall
at once explain that I am writing this at Bob's urgent desire. He has at
length got the position at the florist's, and tells me to tell you that he
is now happy. I dropped in there last night; and when he gave me this
message, I told him that I feared you would take it as an advertisement.
He merely smiled, picked up a Marechal Niel that lay on the counter, and
said, "Drop this in. It's my mark; she'll understand." So here are Bob's
rose and my apology.
She was pale when she turned round to the courteously waiting boy. It was
a very cold note, and she put it in her pocket to keep it warm. The rose
she showed to Will, and told him the story of the sender.
"Didn't I tell you," he cried, when she had finished, "a doctor has the
greatest opportunity in the world to be great--and a surgeon comes near it?
I say, Miss Ruth, your Dr. Kemp must be a brick. Isn't he?"
"Boys would call him so," she answered, shivering slightly.
It was so like him, she thought, to fulfil Bob's request in his hearty,
friendly way; she supposed he wanted her to understand that he wrote to her
only as Bob's amanuensis, --it was plain enough. And yet, and yet, she
thought passionately, it would have been no more than common etiquette to
send a friendly word from himself to her mother. Still the note was not
thrown away. Girls are so irrational; if they cannot have the hand-shake,
they will content themselves with a sight of the glove.
And Ruth in the warm, throbbing, summer days was happy. She was not always
active; there were long afternoons when mere existence was intensely
beautiful. To lie at full length upon the soft turf in the depths of the
small enchanted woods, and hear and feel the countless spells of Nature,
was unspeakable rapture.
"Ah, Floy," she cried one afternoon, as she lay with her face turned up to
the great green boughs that seemed pencilled against the azure sky, "if one
could paint what one feels! Look at these silent, living trees that stand
in all their grandeur under some mighty spell; see how the wonderful heaven
steals through the leaves and throws its blue softness upon the twilight
gloom; here at our feet nestle the soft, green ferns, and over all is the
indescribable fragrance of the redwoods. Turn there, to your right, little
artist, high up on that mountain; can you see through the shimmering haze a
great team moving as if through the air? It is like the vision of the
Bethshemites in Dore's mystic work, when in the valley they lifted up their
eyes and beheld the ark returning. Oh, Floy, it is not Nature; it is God.
And who can paint God?"
"No one. If one could paint Him, He would no longer be great," answered
the girl, resting her sober eyes upon Ruth's enraptured countenance.
One afternoon Ruth took a book and Ethel over the tramway to this fairy
spot. It was very warm and still. Mrs. Levice had swung herself to sleep
in the hammock, and Mr. Levice was dozing and talking in snatches to the
Tyrrells, who were likewise resting on the Levices' veranda. All Nature
was drowsy, as Ruth wandered off with the little one, who chattered on as
was her wont.
"Me and you's yunnin' away," she chatted; "we's goin' to a fowest, and by
and by two 'ittle birdies will cover us up wid leaves. My! Won't my mamma
be sorry? No darlin' 'ittle Ethel to pank and tiss no more. Poor Mamma!"
"Does Ethel think Mamma likes to spank her?"
"Yes; Mamma does des what she likes."
"But it is only when Ethel is naughty that Mamma spanks her. Here,
sweetheart, let me tie your sunbonnet tighter. Now Ruth is going to lie
here and read, and you can play hide-and-seek all about these trees."
"Can I go wound and sit on dat log by a bwook?"
"Oh, I's afwaid. I's dweffully afwaid."
"Why, you can turn round and talk to me all the time."
"But nobody'll be sitting by me at all."
"I am here just where you can see me; besides, God will be right next to
"Will He? Ven all yight."
Ruth took off her hat and prepared to enjoy herself. As her head touched
the green earth, she saw the little maiden seat herself on the log, and
turning her face sideways, say in her pleasant, piping voice, --
"How-de-do, Dod?" And having made her acknowledgments, all her fears
Ruth laughed softly to herself, and straightway began to read. The
afternoon burned itself away. Ethel played and sang and danced about her,
quite oblivious of the heat, till, tired out, she threw herself into Ruth's
"Sing by-low now," she demanded sleepily; "pay it's night, and you and me's
in a yockin'-chair goin' to by-low land."
Ruth realized that the child was weary, and drawing her little head to her
bosom, threw off the huge sunbonnet and ruffled up the damp, golden locks.
"What shall I sing, darling?" she mused: she was unused to singing babies
to sleep. Suddenly a little kindergarten melody she had heard came to her,
and she sang softly in her rich, tender contralto the swinging cradle-song:
"In a cradle, on the treetop,
Sleeps a tiny bird;
Sweeter sound than mother's chirping
Never yet was heard.
See, the green leaves spread like curtains
Round the tiny bed,
While the mother's wings, outstretching,
As her voice died slowly into silence, she found Ethel looking over her
shoulder and nodding her head.
"No; I won't tell," she said loudly.
"Tell what?" asked Ruth, amused.
"Hush! He put his finger on his mouf -- sh!"
"Who?" asked Ruth, turning her head hurriedly. Not being able to see
through the tree, she started to her feet, still holding the child.
Between two trees stood the stalwart figure of Dr. Kemp, --Dr. Kemp in
loose, light gray tweeds and white flannel shirt; on the back of his head
was a small, soft felt hat, which he lifted as she turned, --a wave of
color springing to his cheek with the action. As for Ruth, --a woman's
face dare not speak sometimes.
"Did I startle you?" he asked, coming slowly forward, hat in hand, the
golden shafts of the sun falling upon his head and figure.
"Yes," she answered, trying to speak calmly, and failing, dropped into
She made no movement toward him, but let the child glide softly down till
she stood at her side.
"I interrupted you," he continued; "will you shake hands with me,
She put her hand in his proffered one, which lingered in the touch; and
then, without looking at her, he stooped and spoke to the child. In that
moment she had time to compose herself.
"Do you often come up this way?" she questioned.
He turned from the child, straightened himself, and leaning one arm against
the tree, answered, --
"Once or twice every summer I run away from humanity for a few days, and
generally find myself in this part of the country. This is one of my
select spots. I knew you would ferret it out."
"It is very lovely here. But we are going home now; the afternoon is
growing old. Come, Ethel."
A shadow fell upon his dark eyes as she spoke, scarcely looking at him.
Why should she hurry off at his coming?
"I am sorry my presence disturbs you," he said quietly; "But I can easily
go away again."
"Was I so rude?" she asked, looking up with a sudden smile. "I did not
mean it so; but Ethel's mother will want her now."
"Ethel wants to be carried," begged the child.
"All right; Ruth will carry you," and she stooped to raise her; but as she
did so, Kemp's strong hand was laid upon her arm and held her back.
"Ethel will ride home on my shoulder," he said in the gay, winning voice he
knew how so well to use with children. The baby's blue eyes smiled in
response to his as he swing her lightly to his broad shoulder. There is
nothing prettier to a woman than to see the confidence that a little child
reposes in a strong man.
So through the mellow, golden sunlight they strolled slowly homeward.
Mr. Levice, sauntering down the garden-path, saw the trio approaching. For
a moment he did not recognize the gentleman in his summer attire. When he
did, surprise, then pleasure, then a spirit of inquietude, took possession
of him. He had been unexpectedly startled on Ruth's birthnight by a vague
something in Kemp's eyes. The feeling, however, had vanished gradually in
the knowledge that the doctor always had a peculiarly intent gaze, and,
moreover, no one could have helped appreciating her loveliness that night.
This, of itself, will bring a softness into a man's manner; and without
doubt his fears had been groundless, --fears that he had not dared to put
into words. For old man as he was, he realized that Dr. Kemp's strong
personality was such as would prove dangerously seductive to any woman whom
he cared to honor with his favor; but with a "Get thee behind me, Satan"
desire, he had put the question from him. He could have taken his oath on
Ruth's heart-wholeness, yet now, as he recognized her companion, his
misgivings returned threefold. The courteous gentleman, however, was at
his ease as they came up.
"This is a surprise, Doctor," he exclaimed cordially, opening the gate and
extending his hand. "Who would have thought of meeting you here?"
Kemp grasped his hand heartily.
"I am a sort of surprise-party," he answered, swinging Ethel to the ground
and watching her scamper off to the hotel; "and what is more," he
continued, turning to him, "I have not brought a hamper, which makes one of
"You calculate without your host," responded Levice; "this is a veritable
land of milk and honey. Come up and listen to my wife rhapsodize."
"How is she?" he asked, turning with him and catching a glimpse of Ruth's
"Feeling quite well," replied Levice; "she is all impatience now for a
delirious winter season."
"I thought so," laughed the doctor; "but if you take my advice, you will
draw the bit slightly."
Mrs. Levice was delighted to see him; she said it was like the sight of a
cable-car in a desert. He protested at such a stupendous comparison, and
insisted that she make clear that the dummy was not included. The short
afternoon glided into evening, and Dr. Kemp went over to the hotel and
dined at the Levices' table.
Ruth, in a white wool gown, sat opposite him. It was the first time he had
dined with them; and he enjoyed a singular feeling over the situation. He
noticed that although Mrs. Levice kept up an almost incessant flow of talk,
she ate a hearty meal, and that Ruth, who was unusually quiet, tasted
scarcely anything. Her father also observed it, and resolved upon a course
of strict surveillance. He was glad to hear that the doctor had to leave
on the early morning's train, though, of course, he did not say so. As
they strolled about afterward, he managed to keep his daughter with him and
allowed Kemp to appropriate his wife.
They finally drifted to the cottage-steps, and were enjoying the beauty of
the night when Will Tyrrell presented himself before them.
"Good-evening," he said, taking off his hat as he stood at the foot of the
steps. "Mr. Levice, Father says he has at last scared up two other
gentlemen; and will you please come over and play a rubber of whist?"
Mr. Levice felt himself a victim of circumstances. He and Mr. Tyrrell had
been looking for a couple of opponents, and had almost given up the search.
Now, when he decidedly objected to moving, it would have been heartless not
"Don't consider me," said the doctor, observing his hesitancy. "If it ill
relieve you, I assure you I shall not miss you in the least."
"Go right ahead, Jules" urged his wife; "Ruth and I will take care of the
If she had promised to take care of Ruth, it would have been more to his
mind; but since his wife was there, what harm could accrue that his
presence would prevent? So with a sincere apology he went over to the
He hardly appreciated what an admirable aide he had left behind him in his
Kemp sat upon the top step, and leaned his back against the railing;
although outwardly he kept up a constant low run of conversation with Mrs.
Levice, who swayed to and fro in her rocker, he was intently conscious of
Ruth's white figure perched on the window-sill.
How Mrs. Levice happened to broach the subject, Ruth never knew; but she
was rather startled when she perceived that Kemp was addressing her.
"I should like to show my prowess to you, Miss Levice."
"In what?" she asked, somewhat dazed.
"Ruth, Ruth," laughed her mother, "do you mean to say you have not heard a
word of all my glowing compliments on your rowing?"
"And I was telling your mother that in all modesty I was considered a fine
oar at my Alma Mater."
"And I hazarded the suggestion," added Mrs. Levice, "that as it is such a
beautiful night, there is nothing to prevent your taking a little row, and
then each can judge of the other's claim to superiority?"
"My claim has never been justly established," said Ruth. "I have never
allowed any one to usurp my oars."
"As yet," corrected Kemp. "Then will you wrap something about you and come
down to the river?"
"Certainly she will," answered her mother; "run in and get some wraps,
"You will come too, Mamma?"
"Of course; but considering Dr. Kemp's length, a third in your little boat
will be the proverbial trumpery. Still, I suppose I can rely on you two
crack oarsmen, though you know the slightest tremble in the boat in the
fairest weather is likely to create a squall on my part."
If Dr. Kemp wished to row, he should row; and since the Jewish Mrs. Grundy
was not on hand, anything harmlessly enjoyable was permissible.
Ruth went indoors. This was certainly something she had not bargained for.
How could her mother be so blind as not to know or feel her desire to evade
Dr. Kemp? She felt a positive contempt for herself that his presence
should affect her as it did; she dared not look at him lest her heart
should flutter to her eyes. Probably the display amused him. What was she
to him anyway but a girl with whom he could flirt in his idle moments?
Well (with a passionate fling of her arms), she would extinguish her
uncontrollable little beater for the nonce; she would meet and answer every
one of his long glances in kind.
She wound a black lace shawl around her head, and with some wraps for her
mother, came out.
"Hadn't you better put something over your shoulders?" he asked
deferentially as she appeared.
"And disgust the night with lack of appreciation?"
She turned to a corner of the porch and lifted a pair of oars to her
"Why," he said in surprise, coming toward her, "you keep your oars at
"On the principle of 'neither a borrower nor a lender be;' we find it saves
both time and spleen."
She held them lightly in place on her shoulder.
"Allow me," he said, placing his hand upon the oars.
A spirit of contradiction took possession of her.
"Indeed, no," she answered; "why should I? They are not at all heavy."
He gently lifted her resisting fingers one by one and raised the broad bone
of contention to his shoulder. Then without a look he turned and offered
his arm to Mrs. Levice."
The crickets chirped in the hedges; now and then a firefly flashed before
them; the trees seemed wrapped in silent awe at the majesty of the
bewildering heavens. As they approached the river, the faint susurra came
to them, mingled with the sound of a guitar and some one singing in the
"Others are enjoying themselves also," he remarked as their feet touched
the pebbly beach. A faint crescent moon shone over the water. Ruth went
straight to the little boat aground on the shore.
"It looks like a cockle-shell," he said, as he put one foot in after
shoving it off. "Will you sit in the stern or the bow, Mrs. Levice?"
"In the bow; I dislike to see dangers before we come to them."
He helped her carefully to her place; she thanked him laughingly for his
exceptionally strong arm, and he turned to Ruth.
"I was waiting for you to move from my place," she said in defiant
mischief, standing motionless beside the boat.
"Your place? Ah, yes; now," he said, holding out his hand to her, "will
you step in?"
She took his hand and stepped in; they were both standing, and as the
little bark swayed he made a movement to catch hold of her.
"You had better sit down," he said, motioning to the rower's seat.
"And you?" she asked.
"I shall sit beside you and use the other oar," he answered nonchalantly,
smiling down at her.
With a half-pleased feeling of discomfiture Ruth seated herself in the
stern, whereupon Kemp sat in the contested throne.
"You will have to excuse my turning my back on you, Mrs. Levice," he said
"That is no hindrance to my volubility, I am glad to say; a back is not
very inspiring or expressive, but Ruth can tell me when you look bored if I
wax too discursive."
It was a tiny boat; and seated thus, Kemp's knees were not half a foot from
Ruth's white gown.
"Will you direct me?" he said, as he swept around. "I have not rowed on
this river for two or three years."
"You can keep straight ahead for some distance," she said, leaning back in
She could not fail to notice the easy motion of his figure as he rowed
lightly down the river. His flannel shirt, low at the throat, showed his
strong white neck rising like a column from his broad shoulders, and his
dark face with the steady gray eyes looked across at her with grave
sweetness. She would have been glad enough to be able to turn from the
short range of vision between them; but the stars and river afforded her
good vantage-ground, and on them she fixed her gaze.
Mrs. Levice was in bright spirits, and seemed striving to outdo the night
in brilliancy. For a while Kemp maintained a sort of Roland-for-an-Oliver
conversation with her; but with his eyes continually straying to the girl
before him, it became rather difficult. Some merry rowers down the river
were singing college songs harmoniously; and Mrs. Levice soon began to hum
with them, her voice gradually subsiding into a faint murmur. The balmy,
summer-freighted air made her feel drowsy. She listened absently to Ruth's
occasional warnings to Kemp, and to the swift dip of the oars.
"Now we have clear sailing for a stretch," said Ruth, as they came to a
broad curve. "Did you think you were going to be capsized when we shot
over that snag, Mamma?"
She leaned a little farther forward, looking past Kemp.
Then she straightened herself back in her seat. Kemp, noting the sudden
flush that had rushed to and from her cheek, turned halfway to look at Mrs.
Levice. Her head was leaning against the flag-staff; her eyes were closed,
in the manner of more wary chaperones, --Mrs. Levice slept.
Dr. Kemp moved quietly back to his former position.
Far across the river a woman's silvery voice was singing the sweet old
love-song, "Juanita;" overhead, the golden crescent moon hung low from the
floor of heaven pulsating with stars; it was a passionate, tender night,
and Ruth, with her face raised to the holy beauty, was a dreamy part of it.
Against the black lace about her head her face shone like a cameo, her eyes
were brown wells of starlight; she scarcely seemed to breathe, so still she
sat, her slender hands loosely clasped in her lap.
Dr. Kemp sat opposite her--and Mrs. Levice slept.
Slowly and more slowly sped the tiny boat; long gentle strokes touched the
water; and presently the oars lay idle in their locks, --they were
unconsciously drifting. The water dipped and lapped about the sides; the
tender woman's voice across the water stole to them, singing of love; their
eyes met--and Mrs. Levice slept.
Ever, in the after time, when Ruth heard that song, she was again rocking
in the frail row-boat upon the lovely river, and a man's deep, grave eyes
held hers as if they would never let them go, till under his worshipping
eyes her own filled with slow ecstatic tears.
"Doctor," called a startled voice, "row out; I am right under the trees."
They both started. Mrs. Levice was, without doubt, awake. They had
drifted into a cove, and she was cowering from the over-hanging boughs.
"I do not care to be Absalomed; where were your eyes, Ruth?" she
complained, as Kemp pushed out with a happy, apologetic laugh. "Did not
you see where we were going?"
"No," she answered a little breathlessly; "I believe I am growing
"It must be time to sight home now," said her mother; "I am quite chilly."
In five minutes Kemp had grounded the boat and helped Mrs. Levice out.
When he turned for Ruth, she had already sprung ashore and had started up
the slope; for the first time the oars lay forgotten in the bottom of the
"Wait for us, Ruth," called Mrs. Levice, and the slight white figure stood
still till they came up.
"You are so slow," she said with a reckless little laugh; "I feel as if I
could fly home."
"Are you light-headed, Ruth?" asked her mother, but the girl had fallen
behind them. She could not yet meet his eyes again.
"Come, Ruth, either stay with us or just ahead of us." Mrs. Levice, awake,
was an exemplary duenna.
"There is nothing abroad here but the stars," she answered, flitting before
"And they are stanch, silent friends on such a night," remarked Kemp,
She kept before them till they reached the gate, and stood inside of it as
they drew near.
"Then you will not be home till Monday," he said, taking Mrs. Levice's hand
and raising his hat; "and I am off on the early morning train. Good-by."
As she turned in at the gate, he held out his hand to Ruth. His fingers
closed softly, tightly over hers; she heard him say almost inaudibly, --
She raised her shy eyes for one brief second to his glowing ones; and he
passed, a tall, dark figure, down the shadowy road.
When Mr. Levice returned from his game of whist, he quietly opened the door
of his daughter's bedroom and looked in. All was well; the wolf had
departed, and his lamb slept safe in the fold.
But in the dark his lamb's eyes were mysteriously bright. Sleep! With
this new crown upon her! Humble as the beautiful beggar-maid must have
felt when the king raised her, she wondered why she had been thus chosen by
one whom she had deemed so immeasurably above her. And this is another
phase of woman's love, --that it exalts the beloved beyond all reasoning.
At six o'clock the hills in their soft carpet of dull browns and greens
were gently warming under the sun's first rays. At seven the early train
that Dr. Kemp purposed taking would leave. Ruth, with this knowledge at
heart, had softly risen and left the cottage. Close behind the depot rose
a wooded hill. She had often climbed it with the Tyrrell boys; and what
was to prevent her doing so now? It afforded an excellent view of the
It was very little past six, and she began leisurely to ascend the hill.
The sweet morning air was in her nostrils, and she pushed the broad hat
form her happy eyes. She paused a moment, looking up at the wooded
hill-top, which the sun was jewelling in silver.
"Do you see something beautiful up there?"
With an inarticulate cry she wheeled around and faced Dr. Kemp within a
hand's breadth of her.
"Oh," she cried, stepping back with burning cheeks, "I did not mean--I did
"Nor did I," he said in a low voice; "chance is kinder to us than
She turned quite white at the low, intense word.
"You understood me last night--and I was not--deceived?"
Her head drooped lower till the broad brim of her hat hid her face.
With one quick step he reached her side.
"Ruth, look at me."
She never had been able to resist his compelling voice; and now with a
swift-drawn breath she threw back her head and looked up at him fairly,
with all her soul in her eyes.
"Are you satisfied?" she asked tremulously.
"Not yet," he answered as with one movement he drew her to him.
"My Santa Filomena," he murmured with his lips against her hair, "this is
worth a lifetime of waiting; and I have waited long."
In his close, passionate clasp her face was hidden; she hardly dared meet
his eyes when he finally held her from him.
"Why, you are not afraid to look at me? No one knows you better than I,
dear; you can trust me, I think."
"I know," she said, her hand fluttering in his; "but isn't--the train
"Are you so anxious to have me go?"
Her hand closed tightly around his.
"Because," laying his bearded cheek against her fair one, "I have something
to ask you."
"To ask me?"
"Yes; are you surprised, can't you guess? Ruth, will you bless me still
further? Will you be my wife, love?"
A strange thrill stole over her; his voice had assumed a bewildering
tenderness. "If you really want me," she replied, with a sobbing laugh.
"Soon?" he persisted.
"Because you must. You will find me a tyrant in love, my Ruth."
"I am not afraid of you, sir."
"Then you should be. Think, child, I am an old man, already thirty-five;
did you remember that when you made me king among men?"
"Then I am quite an old lady; I am twenty-two."
"As ancient as that? Then you should be able to answer me. Make it soon,
"Why, how you beg--for a king. Besides, there is Father, you know; he
decides everything for me."
"I know; and I have already asked him on paper. There is a note awaiting
him at the hotel; you will see I took a great deal for granted last night,
and_ Ah, the whistle! What day is this, Ruth?"
"Good Friday, sweet, I think."
"Oh, I am not at all superstitious."
"And Monday is four days off; well, it must make up for all we lose.
Monday will be four days rolled into one."
"Remember," he continued hurriedly, "you are doubly precious now, darling,
and take good care of yourself till our 'Auf Wiedersehn.'"
"And--and--you will remember that for me too, D-doctor?"
"Who? There is no doctor here that I know of."
"But I know one--Herbert."
"God bless you for that, dear!" he answered gravely.
Mr. Levice, sleepily turning on his pillow, heard the whistle of the
out-going train with benignant satisfaction. It was taking Dr. Kemp where
he belonged, --to his busy practice, --and leaving his child's peace
undisturbed. Confound the man, anyway! he mused; what had possessed him to
drop down upon them in that manner and rob Ruth of her appetite and happy
talk? No doubt she had been flattered by the interest he had shown in her;
but he was too old and too dignified a gentleman to resort to flirtation,
and anything deeper was out of the question. He must certainly have a
little plain talk with the child this morning, and, well, he could cry
"Ebenezer!" on his departure. With this conclusion, he softly rose, taking
care not to disturb his placidly sleeping wife, who never dreamed of waking
Ruth generally waited for him for breakfast, but not seeing her around, he
went in and took a solitary meal. Sauntering out afterward toward the
hotel porch, his hat on, his stick under his are, and busily lighting a
cigar, he was met at the door of the billiard-room by one of the clerks.
"Dr. Kemp left this for you this morning," said he, holding out a small
envelope. A flush rose to the old gentleman's sallow cheek as he took it.
"Thank you," he said; "I believe I shall come in here for a few minutes."
He passed by the clerk and seated himself in a deep, cane-bottomed chair
near the window. He fumbled for the cord of his glasses in a slightly
nervous manner, and adjusted them hastily. The missive was addressed to
him, certainly; and with no little wonder he tore it open and read:--
BEACHAM'S Friday morning.
MY DEAR SIR,--Pardon the hurried nature of this communication, but I must
leave shortly on the in-coming train, having an important operation to
undertake this morning; otherwise I should have liked to prepare you more
fully, but time presses. Simply, then, I love your daughter. I told her
so last night upon the river, and she has made me the proudest and happiest
of men by returning my love. I am well aware what I am asking of you when
I ask her of you to be my wife. You know me personally; you know my
financial standing; I trust to you to remember my failings with mercy in
the knowledge of our great love. Till Monday night, then, I leave her and
my happiness to your consideration and love.
With the greatest respect,
The clerk standing near him in the doorway turned hurriedly.
"Any trouble?" he asked, moving toward him and noticing the ashy pallor of
The old man's hand closed spasmodically over the paper.
"Nothing," he managed to answer, waving the man away; "don't notice me."
The clerk, seeing his presence was undesirable, took up his position in the
Levice sat on. No further sound broke from him; he had clinched his teeth
hard. It had come to this, then. She loved him; it was too late. If the
man's heart alone were concerned, it would have been an easy matter; but
hers, Ruth's. God! If she really loved, her father knew only too well how
she would love. Was the man crazy? Had he entirely forgotten the gulf
that lay between them? Great drops of perspiration rose to his forehead.
Two ideas held him in a desperate struggle, --his child's happiness; the
prejudice of a lifetime. Something conquered finally, and he arose quietly
and walked slowly off.
Through the trees he heard laughter. He walked round and saw her swinging
"There's your father," cried Boss, from the limb of a tree.
She looked up, startled. With a newborn shyness she had endeavored to put
off this meeting with her father. She gave the swing another push and
waited his approach with beating heart.
"The boys will excuse you, Ruth, I think; I wish you to come for a short
walk with me."
At his voice, the gentle seriousness of which penetrated even to the
Tyrrell boys' understanding, she felt that her secret was known.
She laid her arm about his neck and gave him his usual morning kiss,
reddening slowly under his long searching look as he held her to him. She
followed him almost blindly as he turned from the grounds and struck into
the lane leading to the woods. Mr. Levice walked along, aimlessly knocking
off with his stick the dandelions and camomile in the hedges. It was with
a wrench he spoke.
"My child," he said, and now the stick acted as a support, "I was just
handed a note from Dr. Kemp. He has asked me for your hand."
In the pause that followed Ruth's lovely face was hidden in her hat.
"He also told me that he loves you," he continued slowly, "and that you
return his love. Will you turn your face to me, Ruth?"
She did so with dignity.
"You love this man?"
"I do." As reverently as if at the altar, she faced and answered her
father. All her love was in the eyes she raised to his. Beneath their
happy glow Levice's sank and his steady lips grew pale.
They were away from mankind in the shelter of the woods, the birds gayly
carolling their matins above them.
"And you desire to become his wife?"
Neck, face, and ears were suffused with color as she faltered unsteadily,
"Oh, Father, he loves me." Then at the wonder of it, she exclaimed,
throwing her arms about his neck impulsively and hiding her face in his
shoulder, "I am so happy, so happy! It seems almost too beautiful to be
The old man's trembling hand smoothed the soft little tendrils of hair that
had escaped from their pins. He stifled a groan as he was thus disarmed.
"And what," she asked, her sweet eyes holding his as she stepped back,
"what do you think of Herbert Kemp, M. D.? Will you be proud of your
son-in-law, Father darling?"
Levice's hand fell suddenly on her shoulder. He schooled himself to smile
quietly upon her.
"Dr. Kemp is a great friend of mine. He is a gentleman whom all the world
honors, not only for his professional worth, but for his manly qualities.
I am not surprised that you love him, nor yet that he loves you--except for
"And that?" she asked, smiling confidently at him.
"Child, you are a Jewess; Dr. Kemp is a Christian."
And still his daughter smiled trustingly.
"What difference can that make, since we love each other?" she asked.
"Will you believe me, Ruth, when I say that all I desire is your
"Father, I know it."
"Then I tell you I can never bring myself to approve of a marriage between
you and a Christian. There can be no true happiness in such a union."
"Why not? Inasmuch as all my life you have taught me to look upon my
Christian friends as upon my Jewish, and since you admit him irreproachable
from every standpoint, why can he not be my husband?"
"Have you ever thought of what such a marriage entails?"
"Then do so now: think of every sacrifice, social and religious, it
enforces; think of the great difference between the Jewish race and the
Christians; and if, after you have measured with the deadliest earnestness
every duty that married life brings, you can still believe that you will be
happy, then marry him."
"With your blessing?" Her lovely, pleading eyes still held his.
"Always with my blessing, child. One thing more: did Dr. Kemp mention
anything of this to you?"
"No; he must have forgotten it as I did, or rather, if I ever thought of
it, it was a mere passing shadow. I put it aside with the thought that
though you and I had never discussed such a circumstance, judging by all
your other actions in our relations with Christians, you would be above
considering such a thing a serious obstacle to two people's happiness."
"You see, when it comes to action, my broad views dwindle down to detail,
and I am only an old man with old-fashioned ideas. However, I shall remind
Dr. Kemp of this grave consideration, and then--you will not object to
"Oh, no; but I know--I know--" What did she know except of the greatness of
his love that would annihilate all her father's forebodings?
"Yes," her father answered the half-spoken thought; "I know too. But
ponder this well, as I shall insist on his doing; then, on Monday night,
when you have both satisfactorily answered to each other every phase of
this terrible difference, I shall have nothing more to say."
Love is so selfish. Ruth, hugging her happiness, failed, as she had never
failed before, to mark the wearied voice, the pale face, and the sad eyes
of her father.
"Your mother will soon be awake," he said; "had you not better go back?"
Something that she had expected was wanting in this meeting; she looked at
him reproachfully, her mouth visibly trembling.
"What is it?" he asked gently.
"Why, Father, you are so cold and hard, and you have not even--"
"Wait till Monday night, Ruth. Then I will do anything you ask me. Now go
back to your mother, but understand, not a word of this to her yet. I
shall not recur to this again; meanwhile we shall both have something to
That afternoon Dr. Kemp received the following brief note: --
BEACHAM'S, August 25, 188--..
Have you forgotten that my daughter is a Jewess; that you are a Christian?
Till Monday night I shall expect you to consider this question from every
possible point of view. If then both you and my daughter can
satisfactorily override the many objections I undoubtedly have, I shall
raise no obstacle to your desires.
Sincerely your friend,
In the mean time Ruth was thinking it all out. Love was blinding her,
dazzling her; and the giants that rose before her were dwarfed into
pygmies, at which she tried to look gravely, but succeeded only in smiling
at their feebleness. Love was an Armada, and bore down upon the little
armament that thought called up, and rode it all to atoms.
Small wonder, then, that on their return on Monday morning, as little Rose
Delano stood in Ruth's room looking up into her friend's face, the dreamy,
starry eyes, the smiles that crept in thoughtful dimples about the corners
of her mouth, the whole air of a mysterious something, baffled and
Upon Ruth's writing-table rested a basket of delicate Marechal Niel buds,
almost veiled in tender maiden-hair; the anonymous sender was not unknown.
"It has agreed well with you, Miss Levice," said Rose, in her gentle,
patient voice, that seemed so out of keeping with her young face. "You
look as if you had been dipped in a love-elixir."
"So I have," laughed Ruth, her hand straying to the velvety buds; "it has
made a 'nut-brown mayde' of me, I think, Rosebud. But tell me the city
news. Everything in running order? Tell me."
"Everything is as your kind help has willed it. I have a pleasant little
room with a middle-aged couple on Post Street. Altogether I earn ten
dollars over my actual monthly expenses. Oh, Miss Levice, when shall I be
able to make you understand how deeply grateful I am?"
"Never, Rose; believe me, I never could understand deep things; that is why
I am so happy."
"You are teasing now, with that mischievous light in your eyes. Yet the
first time I saw your face I thought that either you had or would have a
"Sad?" The sudden poignancy of the question startled Rose.
She looked quickly at her to note if she were as earnest as her voice
sounded. The dark eyes smiled daringly, defiantly at her.
"I am no sorceress," she answered evasively but lightly; "look in the glass
"You remind me of Floy Tyrrell. Pooh! Let us talk of something else.
Then it can't be Wednesdays?"
"It can be any day. The Page children can have Friday."
"Do you know how Mr. Page is?"
"Did you not hear of the great operations he--Dr. Kemp--performed Friday?"
"No." She could have shaken herself for the telltale, inevitable rush of
blood that overspread her face. If Rose saw, she made no sign; she had had
"I did not know such a thing was in his line. I had been giving Miss Dora
a lesson in the nursery. The old nurse had brought the two little ones in
there, and kept us all on tenter-hooks running in and out. One of the
doctors, Wells, I think she said, had fainted; it was a very delicate and
dangerous operation. When my lesson was over, I slipped quietly out; I was
passing through the corridor when Dr. Kemp came out of one of the rooms.
He was quite pale. He recognized me immediately; and though I wished to
pass straight on, he stopped me and shook my hand so very friendly. And
now I hear it was a great success. Oh, Miss Levice, he has no parallel but
It did not sound exaggerated to Ruth to hear him thus made much of. It was
only very sweet and true.
"I knew just what he must be when I saw him," the girl babbled on; "that
was why I went to him. I knew he was a doctor by his carriage, and his
strong, kind face was my only stimulus. But there, you must forgive me if
I tire you; you see he sent you to me."
"You do not tire me, Rose," she said gravely. And the same expression
rested upon her face till evening.
Monday night had come. As Ruth half hid a pale yellow bud in her heavy,
low-coiled hair, the gravity of her mien seemed to deepen. This was
partially the result of her father's expressive countenance and voice. If
he had smiled, it had been such a faint flicker that it was forgotten in
the look of repression that had followed. In the afternoon he had spoken a
few disturbing words to her:
"I have told your mother that Dr. Kemp is coming to discuss a certain
project and desires your presence. She intends to retire rather early, and
there is nothing to prevent your receiving him."
At the distantly courteous tone she raised a pair of startled eyes. He was
regarding her patiently, as if awaiting some remark.
"Surely you do not wish me to be present at this interview?" she
questioned, her voice slightly trembling.
"Not only that, but I desire your most earnest attention and calm reasoning
powers to be brought with you. You have not forgotten what I told you to
She felt, though in a greater degree, as she had often felt in childhood,
when, in taking her to task for some naughtiness, he had worn this same sad
and distant look. He had never punished her nominally; the pain he himself
showed had always affected her as the severest reprimand never could have
She looked like a peaceful, sweet-faced nun in her simple white gown, that
fell in long straight folds to her feet; not another sign of color was upon
A calmness pervaded her whole person as she paced the softly lighted
drawing-room and waited for Kemp.
When he was shown into the room, this tranquillity struck him immediately.
She stood quite still as he came toward her. He certainly had some
old-time manners, for the reverence he felt for her caused him first of all
to raise her hand to his lips. The curious, well-known flush rose slowly
to her sensitive face at the action; when he had caught her swiftly to him,
a sobbing sigh escaped her.
"What is it?" he asked, drawing her down to a seat beside him. "Are you
tired of me already, love?"
"Not of you; of waiting," she answered, half shyly meeting his look.
"I hardly expected this," he said after a pause; "has your father flown
bodily from the enemy and left you to face him alone?"
"Not exactly. But really it was kind of him to keep away for a while, was
it not?" she asked simply.
"It was unusually kind. I suppose, however, you will have to make your
exit on his entrance."
"No," she laughed quietly; "I am going to play the r"le of the audience
to-night. He expressly desires my presence; but if you differ--"
He looked at her curiously. The earnestness with which she had greeted him
settled like a mask upon his face. The hand that held hers drew it quickly
to his breast.
"I think it is well that you remain," he said, "because we agree at any
rate on the main point, --that we love each other. Always that, darling?"
The low, sweet voice that for the first time so caressed him thrilled him
oddly; but a measured step was heard in the hall, and Ruth moved like a
bird to a chair. He could not know that the sound of the step had given
her the momentary courage thus to address him.
He arose deferentially as Mr. Levice entered. The two men formed a
striking contrast. Kemp stood tall, stalwart, straight as an arrow;
Levice, with his short stature, his stooping shoulders, and his silvery
hair falling about and softening somewhat his plain Jewish face, served as
a foil to the other's bright, handsome figure.
Kemp came forward to meet him and grasped his hand. Nothing is more
thoroughly expressive than this shaking of hands between men. It is a
freemasonry that women lack and are the losers thereby. The kiss is a sign
of emotion; the hand-clasp bespeaks strong esteem or otherwise. Levice's
hand closed tightly about the doctor's large one; there was a great feeling
of mutual respect between these two.
"How are you and your wife?" asked the doctor, seating himself in a low,
silken easy-chair as Levice took one opposite him.
"She is well, but tired this evening, and has gone to bed. She wished to
be remembered to you." As he spoke, he half turned his head to where Ruth
sat in a corner, a little removed.
"Why do you sit back there, Ruth?"
She arose, and seeing no other convenient seat at hand, drew up the curious
ivory-topped chair. Thus seated, they formed the figure of an isosceles
triangle, with Ruth at the apex, the men at the angles of the base. It is
a rigid outline, that of the isosceles, bespeaking each point an alien from
There was an uncomfortable pause for some moments after she had seated
herself, during which Ruth noted how, as the candle-light from the sconce
behind fell upon her father's head, each silvery hair seemed to speak of
quiet old age.
Kemp was the first to speak, and, as usual, came straight to the point.
"Mr. Levice, there is no use in disguising or beating around the bush the
thought that is uppermost in all our minds. I ask you now, in person, what
I asked you in writing last Friday, --will you give me your daughter to be
"I will answer you as I did in writing. Have you considered that you are a
Christian; that she is a Jewess?"
It was the first gun and the answering shot of a strenuous battle.
"And you, my child?" he addressed her in the old sweet way that she had
missed in the afternoon.
"I have also done so to the best of my ability."
"Then you have found it raised no barrier to your desire to become Dr.
The two men drew a deep breath at the sound of the little decisive word,
but with a difference . Kemp's face shone exultantly. Levice pressed his
lips hard together as the shuddering breath left him; his heavy-veined
hands were tightly clinched; when he spoke, however, his voice was quite
"It is an old and just custom for parents to be consulted by their children
upon their choice of husband or wife. In France the parents are consulted
before the daughter; it is not a bad plan. It often saves some unnecessary
pangs--for the daughter. I am sorry in this case that we are not living in
"Then you object?" Kemp almost hurled the words at him.
"I crave your patience," answered the old man, slowly; "I have grown
accustomed to doing things deliberately, and will not be hurried in this
instance. But as you have put the question, I may answer you now. I do
most solemnly and seriously object."
Ruth, sitting intently listening to her father, paled slowly. The doctor
also changed color.
"My child," Levice continued, looking her sadly in the face, "by allowing
you to fall blindly into this trouble, without warning, with my apparent
sanction for any relationship with Christians, I have done you a great
wrong; I admit it with anguish. I ask your forgiveness."
Dr. Kemp's clinched hand came down with force upon his knee. He was white
to the lips, for though Levice spoke so quietly, a strong decisiveness rang
unmistakably in every word.
"Mr. Levice, I trust I am not speaking disrespectfully," he began, his
manly voice plainly agitated, "but I must say that it was a great oversight
on your part when you threw your daughter, equipped as she is, into
Christian society, --put her right in the way of loving or being loved by
any Christian, knowing all along that such a state of affairs could lead to
nothing. It was not only wrong, but, holding such views, it was cruel."
"I acknowledge my culpability; my only excuse lies in the fact that such an
event never presented itself as a possibility to my imagination. If it
had, I should probably have trusted that her own Jewish conscience and
bringing-up would protest against her allowing herself to think seriously
upon such an issue."
"But, sir, I do not understand your exception; you are not orthodox."
"No; but I am intensely Jewish," answered the old man, proudly regarding
his antagonist. "I tell you I object to this marriage; that is not saying
I oppose it. There are certain things connected with it of which neither
you nor my daughter have probably thought. To me they are all-powerful
obstacles to your happiness. Being an old man and more experienced, will
you permit me to suggest these points? My friend, I am seeking nothing but
my child's happiness; if, by opening the eyes of both of you to what
menaces her future welfare, I can avert what promises but a sometime
misery, I must do it, late though it may be. If, when I have stated my
view, you can convince me that I am wrong, I shall be persuaded and admit
it. Will you accept my plan?"
Kemp bowed his head. The dogged earnestness about his mouth and eyes
deepened; he kept his gaze steadily and attentively fixed upon Levice.
Ruth, who was the cause of the whole painful scene, seemed remote and
"As you say," began Levice, "we are not orthodox; but before we become
orthodox or reform, we are born, and being born, we are invested with
certain hereditary traits that are unconvertible. Every Jew bears in his
blood the glory, the triumph, the misery, the abjectness of Israel. The
farther we move in the generations, the fainter grown the inheritance. In
most countries in these times the abjectness is vanishing; we have been set
upon our feet; we have been allowed to walk; we are beginning to smile,
--that is, some of us. Those whose fathers were helped on are nearer the
man as he should be than those whose fathers are still grovelling. My
child, I think, stands a perfect type of what culture and refinement can
give. She is not an exception; there are thousands like her among our
Jewish girls. Take any intrinsically pure-souled Jew from his coarser
surroundings and give him the highest advantages, and he will stand forth
the equal, at least, of any man; but he could not mix forever with pitch
and remain undefiled."
"No man could," observed Kemp, as Levice paused. "But what are these
things to me?"
"Nothing; but to Ruth, much. That is part of the bar-sinister between you.
Possibly your sense of refinement has never been offended in my family; but
there are many families, people we visit and love, who, though possessing
all the substrata of goodness, have never been moved to cast off the
surface thorns that would prick your good taste as sharply as any physical
pain. This, of course, is not because they are Jews, but because they lack
refining influences in their surroundings. We look for and excuse these
signs; many Christians take them as the inevitable marks of the race, and
without looking further, conclude that a cultured Jew is an impossibility."
"Mr. Levice, I am but an atom in the Christian world, and you who number so
many of them among your friends should not make such sweeping assertions.
The world is narrow-minded; individuals are broader."
"True; but I speak of the majority, who decide the vote, and by whom my
child would be, without doubt, ostracized. This only by your people; by
ours it would be worse, --for she will have raised a terrible barrier by
renouncing her religion."
"I shall never renounce my religion, Father."
"Such a marriage would mean only that to the world; and so you would be cut
adrift from both sides, as all women are who move from where they
rightfully belong to where they are not wanted."
"Sir," interrupted Kemp, "allow me to show you wherein such a state of
affairs would, if it should happen, be of no consequence. The friends we
care for and who care for us will not drop off if we remain unchanged.
Because I love your daughter and she loves me, and because we both desire
our love to be honored in the sight of God and man, wherein have we erred?
We shall still remain the same man and woman."
"Unhappily the world would not think so."
"Then let them hold to their bigoted opinion; it is valueless, and having
each other, we can dispense with them."
"You speak in the heat of passion; and at such a time it would be
impossible to make you understand the honeymoon of life is made up of more
than two, and a third being inimical can make it wretched. The knowledge
that people we respect hold aloof from us is bitter."
"But such knowledge," interrupted Ruth's sweet voice, "would be robbed of
all bitterness when surrounded and hedged in by all that we love."
Her father looked in surprise at the brave face raised so earnestly to his.
"Very well," he responded; "count the world as nothing. You have just
said, my Ruth, that you would not renounce your religion. How could that
be when you have a Christian husband who would not renounce his?"
"I should hope he would not; I should have little respect for any man who
would give up his sacred convictions because I have come into his life. As
for my religion, I am a Jewess, and will die one. My God is fixed and
unalterable; he is one and indivisible; to divide his divinity would be to
deny his omnipotence. As to forms, you, Father, have bred in me a contempt
for all but a few. Saturday will always be my Sabbath, no matter what
convention would make me do. We have decided that writing or sewing or
pleasuring, since it hurts no one, is no more a sin on that day than on
another; to sit with idle hands and gossip or slander is more so. But on
that day my heart always holds its Sabbath; this is the force of custom.
Any day would do as well if we were used to it, --for who can tell which
was the first and which the seventh counting from creation? On our New
Year I should still feel that a holy cycle of time had passed; but I live
only according to one record of time, and my New Year falls always on the
1st of January. Atonement is a sacred day to me; I could not desecrate it.
Our services are magnificently beautiful, and I should feel like a culprit
if debarred from their holiness. As to fasting, you and I have agreed that
any physical punishment that keeps our thoughts one moment from God, and
puts them on the feast that is to come, is mere sham and pretence. After
these, Father, wherein does our religion show itself?"
"Surely," he replied with some bitterness, "we hold few Jewish rites.
Well, and so you think you can keep these up? And you, Dr. Kemp?"
Dr. Kemp had been listening attentively while Ruth spoke. His eyes kindled
brightly as he answered, --
"Why should she not? If all her orisons have made her as beautiful, body
and soul, as she is to me, what is to prevent her from so continuing? And
if my wife would permit me to go with her upon her holidays to your
beautiful Temple, no one would listen more reverently than I. Loving her,
what she finds worshipful could find nothing but respect in me."
Plainly Mr. Levice had forgotten the wellspring that was to enrich their
lives; but he perceived that some impregnable armor encased them that made
every shot of his harmless.
"I can understand," he ventured, "that no gentleman with self-respect
would, at least outwardly, show disrespect for any person's religion. You,
Doctor, might even come to regard with awe a faith that has withstood
everything and has never yet been sneered at, however its followers have
been persecuted. Many of its minor forms are slowly dying out and will
soon be remembered only historically; this history belongs to every one."
"Certainly. Let us, however, stick to the point in question. You are a
man who has absorbed the essence of his religion, and cast off most of its
unnecessary externals. You have done the same for my--for your daughter.
This distinguishes you. If I were to say the characteristic has never been
unbeautiful in my eyes, I should be excusing what needs no excuse. Now,
sir, I, in turn, am a Christian broadly speaking; more formally, a
Unitarian. Our faiths are not widely divergent. We are both liberal;
otherwise marriage between us might be a grave experiment. As to forms,
for me they are a show, but for many they are a necessity, --a sort of
moral backbone without which they might fall. Sunday is to me a day of
rest if my patients do not need me. I enjoy hearing a good sermon by any
noble, broad-minded man, and go to church not only for that, but for the
pleasure of having my spiritual tendencies given a gentle stirring up.
There is one holiday that I keep and love to keep; that is Christmas."
"And I honor you for it; but loving this day of days, looking for sympathy
for it from all you meet, how will it be when in your own home the wife
whom you love above all others stands coldly by and watches your feelings
with no answering sympathy? Will this not breed dissension, if not in
words, at least in spirit? Will you not feel the want and resent it?"
Dr. Kemp was silent. The question was a telling one and required thought;
therefore he was surprised when Ruth answered for him. Her quiet voice
carried no sense of hysteric emotion, but one of grave grace.
She addressed her father; each had refrained from appealing to the other.
The situation in the light of their new, great love was strained and
"I should endeavor that he should feel no lack," she said; "for so far as
Christmas is concerned, I am a Christian also."
"I do not understand." Her father's lips were dry, his voice husky.
"Ever since I have been able to judge," explained the girl, quietly,
"Christ has been to me the loveliest and one of the best men that ever
lived. You yourself, Father, admire and reverence his life."
"Yes?" His eyes were half closed as if in pain; he motioned to her to
"And so, in our study, he was never anything but what was great and good.
Later, when I had read his 'Sermon on the Mount,' I grew to see that what
he preached was beautiful. It did not change my religion; it made me no
less a Jewess in the true sense, but helped me to gentleness. To me he
became the embodiment of Love in the highest, --Love perfect, but warm and
human; human Love so glorious that it needs no divinity to augment its
power over us. He was God's attestation, God's symbol of what Man might
be. As a teacher of brotherly love, he is sublime. So I may call myself a
christian, though I spell it with a small letter. It is right that such a
man's birthday should be remembered with love; it shows what a sweet power
his name is, when, as that time approaches, everybody seems to love
everybody better. Feeling so, would it be wrong for me to participate in
my husband's actions on that day?"
She received no answer. She looked only at her father with loving
earnestness, and the look of adoration Kemp bent upon her was quite lost.
"Would this be wrong, Father?" she urged.
He straightened himself in his chair as if under a load. His dark, sallow
face seemed to have grown worn and more haggard.
"I have always imagined myself just and liberal in opinion," he responded;
"I have sought to make you so. I never thought you could leap thus far.
It were better had I left you to your mother. Wrong? No; you would be but
giving your real feelings expression. But such an expression would
grieve--Pardon; I am to consider your happiness." He seemed to swallow
something, and hastily continued: "While we are still on this subject, are
you aware, my child, that you could not be married by a Jewish rabbi?"
She started perceptibly.
"I should love to be married by Doctor C----." As she pronounced the grand
old rabbi's name, a tone of reverential love accompanied it.
"I know. But you would have to take a justice as a substitute."
"A Unitarian minister would be breaking no law in uniting us, and I think
would not object to do so; that is, of course, if you had no objection."
The doctor looked at him questioningly. Levice answered by turning to
Ruth. She passed her hand over her forehead.
"Do you think," she asked, "that after a ceremony had been performed, Dr.
C---- would bless us? As a friend, would he have to refuse?"
"He would be openly sanctioning a marriage which according to the
rabbinical law is no marriage at all. Do you think he would do this,
notwithstanding his friendship for you?" returned her father. They both
looked at him intently.
"Ah, well," she answered, throwing back her head, a half-smile coming to
her pale lips, "it is but a sentiment, and I could forego it, I suppose.
One must give up little things sometimes for great."
"Yes; and this would be but the first. My children, there is something
radically wrong when we have to overlook and excuse so much before
marriage. 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;' and why should we
add trouble to days already burdened before they come?"
"We should find all this no trouble," said Kemp; "and what is to trouble us
after? We have now the wherewithal for our happiness; what, in God's name,
do you ask for more?"
"As I have said, Dr. Kemp, we are an earnest people. Marriage is a step
not entered into lightly. Divorce, for this reason, is seldom heard of
with us, and for this reason we have few unhappy marriages. We know
beforehand what we have to expect from every quarter. No question I have
put would be necessary with a Jew. His ways are ours, and, with few
exceptions, a woman has nothing but happiness to expect from him. How am I
sure of this with you? In a moment of anger this difference of faith may
be flung in each other's teeth, and what then?"
"You mean you cannot trust me."
The quiet, forceful words were accompanied by no sign of emotion. His deep
eyes rested as respectfully as ever upon the old gentleman's face. But the
attack was a hard one upon Levice. A vein on his temple sprang into blue
prominence as he quickly considered his answer.
"I trust you, sir, as one gentleman would trust another in any undertaking;
but I have not the same knowledge of what to expect from you as I should
have from any Jew who would ask for my daughter's hand."
"I understand that," admitted the other; "but a few minutes ago you imputed
a possibility to me that would be an impossibility to any gentleman. You
may have heard of such happenings among some, but an event of that kind
would be as removed from us as the meeting of the poles. Everything
depends on the parties concerned."
"Besides, Father," added Ruth, her sweet voice full with feeling, "when one
loves greatly, one is great through love. Can true married love ever be
divided and sink to this?"
The little white and gold clock ticked on; it was the only sound. Levice's
forehead rested upon his hand over which his silvery hair hung. Kemp's
strong face was as calm as a block of granite; Ruth's was pale with
Suddenly the old man threw back his head. They both started at the
revelation: great dark rings were about his eyes; his mouth was set in a
"I--I," he cleared his throat as if something impeded his utterance, --"I
have one last suggestion to make. You may have children. What will be
The little clock ticked on; a dark hue overspread Kemp's face. As for the
girl, she scarcely seemed to hear; her eyes were riveted upon her father's
The doctor gave one quick glance at Ruth and answered, --
"If God should so bless us, I think the simple religion of love enough for
childhood. Later, as their judgment ripened, I should let them choose for
themselves, as all should be allowed."
"And you, my Ruth?"
A shudder shook her frame; she answered mechanically, --
"I should be guided by my husband."
The little clock ticked on, backward and forward, and forward and back,
dully reiterating, "Time flies, time flies."
"I have quite finished," said Levice, rising.
Kemp did likewise.
"After all," he said deferentially, "you have not answered my question."
"I--think--I--have," replied the old man, slowly. "But to what question do
"The simple one, --will you give me your daughter?"
"No, sir; I will not."
Kemp drew himself up, bowed low, and stood waiting some further word, his
face ashy white. Levice's lips trembled nervously, and then he spoke in a
gentle, restrained way, half apologetically and in strange contrast to his
"You see, I am an old man rooted in old ideas; my wife, not so old, holds
with me in this. I do not know how wildly she would take such a
proposition. But, Dr. Kemp, as I said before, though I object, I shall not
oppose this marriage. I love my daughter too dearly to place my beliefs as
an obstacle to what she considers her happiness; it is she who will have to
live the life, not I. You and I, sir, have been friends; outside of this
one great difference there is no man to whom I would more gladly trust my
child. I honor and esteem you as a gentleman who has honored my child in
his love for her. If I have hurt you in these bitter words, forgive me; as
my daughter's husband, we must be more than friends."
He held out his hand. The doctor took it, and holding it tightly in his,
made answer somewhat confusedly, --
"Mr. Levice, I thank you. I can say no more now, except that no son could
love and honor you more than I shall."
Levice bent his head, and turned to Ruth, who sat, without a movement,
looking straight ahead of her.
"My darling," said her father, softly laying his hand on her head and
raising her lovely face, "if I have seemed selfish and peculiar, trust me,
dear, it was through no lack of love for you. Do not consider me; forget,
if you will, all I have said. You are better able, perhaps, than I to
judge what is best for you. Since you love Dr. Kemp, and if after all this
thought, you feel you will be happy with him, then marry him. You know
that I hold him highly, and though I cannot honestly give you to him, I
shall not keep you from him. My child, the door is open; you can pass
through without my hand. Good-night, my little girl."
His voice quavered sadly over the old-time pet name as he stooped and
kissed her. He wrung the doctor's hand again in passing, and abruptly
turned to leave the room. It was a long room to cross. Kemp and Ruth
followed with their eyes the small, slightly stooped figure of the old man
passing slowly out by himself. As the heavy portiere fell into place
behind him, the doctor turned to Ruth, still seated in her chair.
She was perfectly still. Her eyes seemed gazing into vacancy.
"Ruth," he said softly; but she did not move. His own face showed signs of
the emotions through which he had passed, but was peaceful as if after a
long, triumphant struggle. He came nearer and laid his hand gently upon
"Love," he whispered, "have you forgotten me entirely?"
His hand shook slightly; but Ruth gave no sign that she saw or heard.
"This has been too much for you," he said, drawing her head to his breast.
She lay there as if in a trance, with eyes closed, her face lily-white
against him. They remained in this position for some minutes till he
became alarmed at her passivity.
"You are tired, darling," he said, stroking her cheek; "shall I leave you?"
She started up as if alive to his presence for the first time, and sprang
to her feet. She turned giddy and swayed toward him. He caught her in his
"I am so dizzy," she laughed in a broken voice, looking with dry, shining
eyes at him; "hold me for a minute."
He experienced a feeling of surprise as she clasped her arms around his
neck; Ruth had been very shy with her caresses.
His eyes met hers in a long, strange look.
"Of what are you thinking?" he asked in a low voice.
"There is an old German song I used to sing," she replied musingly; "will
you think me very foolish if I say it is repeating itself to me now, over
and over again?"
"What is it, dear?' he asked, humoring her.
"Do you understand German? Oh, of course, my student; but this is a sad
old song; students don't sing such things. These are some of the words:
'Beh te Gott! es war zu sch"n gewesen.' I wish--"
"It is a miserable song," he said lightly; "forget it."
She disengaged herself from his arms and sat down. Some late roisterers
passing by in the street were heard singing to the twang of a mandolin. It
was a full, deep song, and the casual voices blended in perfect accord. As
the harmony floated out of hearing, she looked up at him with a haunting
"People are always singing to us; I wish they wouldn't. Music is so sad;
it is like a heart-break."
He knelt beside her; he was a tall man, and the action seemed natural.
"You are pale and tired," he said; "and I am going to take a doctor's
privilege and send you to bed. To-morrow you can answer better what I so
long to hear. You heard what your father said; your answer rests entirely
with you. Will you write, or shall I come?"
"Do you know," she answered, her eyes burning in her pale face, "you have
very pretty, soft dark hair? Does it feel as soft as it looks?" She
raised her hand, and ran her fingers lingeringly through his short, thick
"Why," she said brightly, "here are some silvery threads on your temples.
"You shall pull them out," he answered, drawing her little hand to his
"There, go away," she said quickly, snatching it from him and moving from
her chair as he rose. She rested her elbow on the mantel-shelf, and the
candles from the silver candelabra shone on her face; it looked strained
and weary. Kemp's brows gathered in a frown as he saw it.
"I am going this minute," he said; "and I wish you to go to bed at once.
Don't think of anything but sleep. Promise me you will go to bed as soon
as I leave."
"Good-night, sweetheart," he said, kissing her softly, "and dream happy
dreams." He stooped again to kiss her hands, and moved toward the door.
"Herbert!" His hand was on the portiere, and he turned in alarm at her
"What is it?" he asked, taking a step toward her.
"Nothing. Don't--don't come back, I say. I just wished to see your face.
I shall write to you. Good-night."
And the curtain fell behind him.
As he passed down the gravel walk, a hack drew up and stopped in front of
the house. Louis Arnold sprang out. The two men came face to face.
Arnold recognized the doctor immediately and drew back. When Kemp saw who
it was, he bowed and passed on. Arnold did likewise, but he went in where
the other went out.
It was late, after midnight. He had just arrived on a delayed southern
train. He knew the family had come home that morning. Dr. Kemp was rather
early in making a visit; it had also taken him long to make it.
Louis put his key in the latch and opened the door. It was very quiet; he
supposed every one had retired. He flung his hat and overcoat on a chair
and walked toward the staircase. As he passed the drawing-room, a stream
of light came from beneath the portiere. He hesitated in surprise,
everything was so quiet. Probably the last one had forgotten to put out
the lights. He stepped noiselessly up and entered the room. His footfall
made no sound on the soft carpet as he moved about putting out the lights.
He walked to the mantel to blow out the candles, but stopped, dumfounded,
within a foot of it. The thing that disturbed him was the motionless white
figure of his cousin. It might have been a marble statue, so lifeless she
seemed, though her face was hidden in her hands.
For a moment Arnold was terrified; but the feeling was immediately
succeeded by one of exquisite pain. He was a man not slow to conjecture;
by some intuition he understood.
He regained his presence of mind and turned quietly to quit the room; his
innate delicacy demanded it. He had but turned when a low, moaning sound
arrested him; he came back irresolutely.
"Did you call, Ruth?"
"Ruth, it is I, Louis, who is speaking to you. Do you know how late it
With gentle force he drew her fingers from her face. The mute misery there
depicted was pitiful.
"Come, go to bed, Ruth," he said as to a child.
She made a movement to rise, but sank back again.
"I am so tired, Louis," she pleaded in a voice of tears, like a weary
"Yes, I know; but I will help you." The unfamiliar, gentle quality of his
voice penetrated even to her numbed senses.
She had not seen him since the night he had asked her to be his wife. No
remembrance of this came to her, but his presence held something new and
restful. She allowed him to draw her to her feet; and as calmly as a
brother he led her upstairs and into her room. Without a question he lit
the gas for her.
"Good-night, Ruth," he said, blowing out the match. "Go right to bed; your
head will be relieved by sleep."
"Thank you, Louis," she said, feeling dimly grateful for something his
words implied; "good-night."
Arnold noiselessly closed the door behind him. She quickly locked it and
sat down in the nearest chair.
Her hands were interlaced so tightly that her nails left imprints in the
flesh. She had something to consider. Oh dear, it was such a simple
thing; was she to break her father's heart, or her own and--his? Her
father's, or his.
It was so stupid to sit and repeat it. Surely it was decided long ago.
Such a long time ago, when her father's loving face had put on its misery.
Would it look that way always? No, no, no! She would not have it; she
dared not; it was too utterly wretched.
Still, there was some one else at the thought of whom her temples throbbed
wildly. It would hurt him; she knew it. The thought for a moment was a
miserable ecstasy; for he loved her, --her, simple Ruth Levice, --beyond
all doubting she knew he loved her; and, oh, father, father, how she loved
him! Why must she give it all up? she questioned fiercely; did she owe no
duty to herself? Was she to drag out all the rest of her weary life
without his love? Life! It would be a lingering death, and she was young
yet in years. Other girls had married with graver obstacles, in open
rupture with their parents, and they had been happy. Why could not she?
It was not as if he were at fault; no one dared breathe a word against his
fair fame. To look at his strong, handsome face meant confidence. That
was when he left the room.
Some one else had left the room also. Some one who had loved her all her
life, some one who had grown accustomed in more than twenty years to listen
gladly for her voice, to anticipate every wish, to hold her as in the palm
of a loving hand, to look for and rest on her unquestioned love. He too
had left the room; but he was not strong and handsome, poor, poor old
father with his small bent shoulders. What a wretched thing it is to be
old and have the heart-strings that have so confidently twisted themselves
all these years around another rudely cut off, --and that by your only
At the thought an icy quiet stole over her. How long she sat there,
musing, debating, she did not know. When the gray dawn broke, she rose up
calmly and seated herself at her writing-table. She wrote steadily for
some time without erasing a single word. She addressed the envelope
without a falter over the name.
"That is over," she said audibly and deliberately.
A cock crowed. It was the beginning of another day.
Dr. Kemp tossed the reins to his man, sprang from his carriage, and hurried
into his house. "Burke!" he called while closing the door, "Burke!" He
walked toward the back of the house and into the kitchen, still calling.
Finding it empty, he walked back again and began a still hunt about the
pieces of furniture in the various rooms. Being unsuccessful, he went into
his bedroom, made a hasty toilet, and hurried again to the kitchen.
"Where have you been, Burke?" he exclaimed as that spare-looking personage
turned, spoon in hand, from the range.
"Right here, General," he replied in surprise, "except when I went out."
"Well; did any mail come here for me?"
"One little Billy-do, General. I put it under your dinner-plate; and shall
I serve the soup?" the last was bellowed after his master's retreating
"Wait till I ring," he called back.
He lifted his solitary plate, snatched up the little letter, and sat down
hastily, conscious of a slight excitement.
His name and address stared at him from the white envelope in a round, firm
hand. There was something about the loop-letters that reminded him of her,
and he passed his hand caressingly over the surface. He did not break the
seal for some minutes, --anticipation is sometimes sweeter than
realization. Finally it was done, but he closed his eyes for a second, _ a
boyish trick of his that had survived when he wished some expected pleasure
to spring suddenly upon him. How would she address him? The memory of
their last meeting gave him courage, and he opened his eyes. The
denouement was disconcerting. Directly under the tiny white monogram she
had begun without heading of any description: --
It was cruel of me to let you go as I did: you were hopeful when you left.
I led you to this state for a purely selfish reason. After all, it saved
you the anguish of knowing it was a final farewell; for even then I knew it
could never be. Never! Forever!--do you know the meaning of those two
long words? I do. They have burned themselves irrevocably into my brain;
try to understand them, --they are final.
I retract nothing that I said to my father in your presence; you know
exactly how I still consider what is separating us. I am wrong. Only I am
causing this separation; no one else could or would. Do not blame my
father; if he were to see me writing thus he would beg me to desist; he
would think I am sacrificing my happiness for him. I have no doubt you
think so now. Let me try to make you understand how different it really
is. I am no Jephthah's daughter, --he wants no sacrifice, and I make none.
Duty, the hardest word to learn, is not leading me. You heard my father's
words; but not holding him as I do, his face could not recoil upon your
heart like a death's hand.
I am trying to write coherently and to the point: see what a coward I am!
Let me say it now, --I could never be happy with you. Do you remember
Shylock, --the old man who withdrew from the merry-making with a breaking
heart? I could not make merry while he wept; my heart would weep also.
You see how selfish I am; I am doing it for my own sake, and for no one's
And that is why I ask you now to forgive me, --because I am not noble
enough to consider you when my happiness is at stake. I suppose I am a
light person seemingly to play thus with a man's heart. If this
reflection can rob you of regret, think me so. Does it sound presumptuous
or ironical for me to say I shall pray you may be happy without me?
Well, it is said hearts do not break for love, --that is, not quickly. If
you will just think of what I have done, surely you will not regret your
release; you may yet find a paradise with some other and better woman. No,
I am not harsh or unreasonable; even I expect to be happy. Why should not
you, then, --you, a man; I, a woman? Forget me. In your busy, full life
this should be easy. Trust me, no woman is worthy of spoiling your life
My pen keeps trailing on; like summer twilight it is loath to depart. I am
such a woman. I may never see your face again. Will you not forgive me?
He looked up with a bloodless face at Burke standing with the smoking soup.
"I--I--thought you had forgotten to ring," he stammered, shocked at the
"Take it away," said his master, hoarsely, rising from his chair. "I do
not wish any dinner, Burke. I am going to my office, and must not be
The man looked after him with a sadly wondering shake of his head, and went
back to his more comprehensible pots and kettles.
Kemp walked steadily into his office, lit the gas, and sat down at his
desk. He began to re-read the letter slowly from the beginning. It took a
long time, for he read between the lines. A deep groan escaped him as he
laid it down. It was written as she would have spoken; he could see the
expression of her face in the written words, and a miserable empty feeling
of powerlessness came upon him. He did not blame her, --how could he, with
that sad evidence of her breaking heart before him? He got up and paced
the floor. His head was throbbing, and a cold, sick feeling almost
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