Word to Bennington

They kept their secret for a while, or at least they had that special joy of believing that no one in all the world but themselves knew this that had happened to them. But I think that there was one person who knew how to keep a secret even better than these two lovers. Mrs. Taylor made no remarks to any one whatever. Nobody on Bear Creek, however, was so extraordinarily cheerful and serene. That peculiar severity which she had manifested in the days when Molly was packing her possessions, had now altogether changed. In these days she was endlessly kind and indulgent to her “deary.” Although, as a housekeeper, Mrs. Taylor believed in punctuality at meals, and visited her offspring with discipline when they were late without good and sufficient excuse, Molly was now exempt from the faintest hint of reprimand.

“And it’s not because you’re not her mother,” said George Taylor, bitterly. “She used to get it, too. And we’re the only ones that get it. There she comes, just as we’re about ready to quit! Aren’t you going to say nothing to her?” “George,” said his mother, “when you’ve saved a man’s life it’ll be time for you to talk.” So Molly would come in to her meals with muchirregularity; and her remarks about the imperfections of her clock met with no rejoinder. And yet one can scarcely be so severe as had been Mrs. Taylor, and become wholly as mild as milk. There was one recurrent event that could invariably awaken hostile symptoms in the dame. Whenever she saw a letter arrive with the Bennington postmark upon it, she shook her fist at that letter. “What’s family pride?” she would say to herself. “Taylor could be a Son of the Revolution if he’d a mind to. I wonder if she has told her folks yet.” And when letters directed to Bennington would go out, Mrs. Taylor would inspect every one as if its envelope ought to grow transparent beneath her eyes, and yield up to her its great secret, if it had one. But in truth these letters had no great secret to yield up, until one day--yes; one day Mrs. Taylor would have burst, were bursting a thing that people often did. Three letters were the cause of this emotion on Mrs. Taylor’s part; one addressed to Bennington, one to Dunbarton, and the third--here was the great excitement--to Bennington, but not in the little schoolmarm’s delicate writing. A man’s hand had traced those plain, steady vowels and consonants.

“It’s come!” exclaimed Mrs. Taylor, at this sight. “He has written to her mother himself.” That is what the Virginian had done, and here is how it had come about.

The sick man’s convalescence was achieved. The weeks had brought back to him, not his whole strength yet--that could come only by many miles of open air on the back of Monte; but he was strong enough now to get strength. When a patient reaches this stage, he is out of the woods.

He had gone for a little walk with his nurse. They had taken (under the doctor’s recommendation) several such little walks, beginning with a five-minute one, and at last to-day accomplishing three miles.

“No, it has not been too far,” said he. “I am afraid I could walk twice as far.” “Afraid?” “Yes. Because it means I can go to work again. This thing we have had together is over.” For reply, she leaned against him.

“Look at you!” he said. “Only a little while ago you had to help me stand on my laigs. And now--” For a while there was silence between them. “I have never had a right down sickness before,” he presently went on. “Not to remember, that is. If any person had told me I could enjoy such a thing--” He said no more, for she reached up, and no more speech was possible.

“How long has it been?” he next asked her.

She told him.

“Well, if it could be forever--no. Not forever with no more than this. I reckon I’d be sick again! But if it could be forever with just you and me, and no one else to bother with. But any longer would not be doing right by your mother. She would have a right to think ill of me.” “Oh!” said the girl. “Let us keep it.” “Not after I am gone. Your mother must be told.” “It seems so--can’t we--oh, why need anybody know?” “Your mother ain’t ‘anybody.’ She is your mother. I feel mighty responsible to her for what I have done.” “But I did it!” “Do you think so? Your mother will not think so. I am going to write to her to-day.” “You! Write to my mother! Oh, then everything will be so different! They will all--” Molly stopped before the

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