They talked, of course. They talked of Tom, and all these changes and the attachment Mr. Chuzzlewit had conceived for him, and the bright prospects he had in such a friend, and a great deal more to the same purpose. The more they talked, the more afraid this fluttering little Ruth became of any pause; and sooner than have a pause she would say the same things over again; and if she hadn't courage or presence of mind enough for that (to say the truth she very seldom had), she was ten thousand times more charming and irresistible than she had before.
`Martin will be married very soon now, I suppose?' said John.
She supposed he would. Never did a bewitching little woman suppose anything in such a faint voice as Ruth supposed that.
But seeing that another of those alarming pauses was approaching, she remarked that he would have a beautiful wife. Didn't Mr. Westlock think so?
`Ye -- yes,' said John, `oh, yes.'
She feared he was rather hard to please -- he spoke so coldly.
`Rather say already pleased,' said John. `I have scarcely seen her. I had no care to see her. I had no eyes for her, this morning.'
Oh, good gracious!
It was well they had reached their destination. She never could have gone any further. It would have been impossible to walk in such a tremble.
Tom had not come in. They entered the triangular parlour together and alone. Fiery Face, Fiery Face, how many years' purchase now!
She sat down on the little sofa, and untied her bonnet-strings. He sat down by her side, and very near her: very, very near her. Oh rapid, swelling, bursting little heart, you knew that it would come to this, and hoped it would. Why beat so wildly, heart!
`Dear Ruth! Sweet Ruth! If I had loved you less, I could have told you that I loved you, long ago. I have loved you from the first. There never was a creature in the world more truly loved than you, dear Ruth, by me!'
She clasped her little hands before her face. The gushing tears of joy, and pride, and hope, and innocent affection, would not be restrained. Fresh from her full young heart they came to answer him.
`My dear love! If this is -- I almost dare to hope it is, now -- not painful or distressing to you, you make me happier than I can tell, or you imagine. Darling Ruth! My own good, gentle, winning Ruth! I hope I know the value of your heart, I hope I know the worth of your angel nature. Let me try and show you that I do; and you will make me happier, Ruth --'
`Not happier,' she sobbed, `than you make me. No one can be happier, John, than you make me!'
Fiery Face, provide yourself! The usual wages or the usual warning. It's all over, Fiery Face. We needn't trouble you any further.
The little hands could meet each other now, without a rampant horse to urge them. There was no occasion for lions, bears, or mad bulls. It could all be done, and infinitely better, without their assistance. No burly drayman or big butts of beer, were wanted for apologies. No apology at all was wanted. The soft light touch fell coyly, but quite naturally, upon the lover's shoulder; the delicate waist, the drooping head, the
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