rising visions of Bennington. Upon the fairy-tale that she had been living with her cow-boy lover broke the voices of the world. She could hear them from afar. She could see the eyes of Bennington watching this man at her side. She could imagine the ears of Bennington listening for slips in his English. There loomed upon her the round of visits which they would have to make. The ringing of the door-bells, the waiting in drawing-rooms for the mistress to descend and utter her prepared congratulations, while her secret eye devoured the Virginian’s appearance, and his manner of standing and sitting. He would be wearing gloves, instead of fringed gauntlets of buckskin. In a smooth black coat and waistcoat, how could they perceive the man he was? During those short formal interviews, what would they ever find out of the things that she knew about him? The things for which she was proud of him? He would speak shortly and simply; they would say, “Oh, yes!” and “How different you must findthis from Wyoming!”--and then, after the door was shut behind his departing back they would say--He would be totally underrated, not in the least understood. Why should he be subjected to this? He should never be!

Now in all these half-formed, hurried, distressing thoughts which streamed through the girl’s mind, she altogether forgot one truth. True it was that the voice of the world would speak as she imagined. True it was that in the eyes of her family and acquaintance this lover of her choice would be examined even more like a specimen than are other lovers upon these occasions: and all accepted lovers have to face this ordeal of being treated like specimens by the other family. But dear me! most of us manage to stand it, don t we? It isn’t, perhaps, the most delicious experience that we can recall in connection with our engagement. But it didn’t prove fatal. We got through it somehow. We dined with Aunt Jane, and wined with Uncle Joseph, and perhaps had two fingers given to us by old Cousin Horatio, whose enormous fortune was of the greatest importance to everybody. And perhaps fragments of the other family’s estimate of us subsequently reached our own ears. But if a chosen lover cannot stand being treated as a specimen by the other family, he’s a very weak vessel, and not worth any good girl’s love. That’s all I can say for him.

Now the Virginian was scarcely what even his enemy would term a weak vessel; and Molly’s jealousy of the impression which he might make upon Bennington was vastly superfluous. She should have known that he would indeed care to make a good impression; but that such anxiety on his part would be wholly for her sake, that in the eyes of her friends she might stand justified in taking him for her wedded husband. So far as he was concerned apart from her, Aunt Jane and Uncle Joseph might say anything they pleased, or think anything they pleased. His character was open for investigation. Judge Henry would vouch for him.

This is what he would have said to his sweetheart had she but revealed to him her perturbations. But she did not reveal them; and they were not of the order that he with his nature was likely to divine. I do not know what good would have come from her speaking out to him, unless that perfect understanding between lovers which indeed is a good thing. But I do not believe that he could have reassured her; and I am certain that she could not have prevented his writing to her mother.

“Well, then,” she sighed at last, “if you think so, I will tell her.” That sigh of hers, be it well understood, was not only because of those far-off voices which the world would in consequence of her news be lifting presently. It came also from bidding farewell to the fairy-tale which she must leave now; that land in which she and he had been living close together alone, unhindered, unmindful of all things.

“Yes, you will tell her,” said her lover. “And I must tell her too.” “Both of us?” questioned the girl.

What would he say to her mother? How would her mother like such a letter as he would write to her? Suppose he should misspell a word? Would not sentences from him at this time--written sentences--be a further bar to his welcome acceptance at Bennington?

“Why don’t you send messages by me?” she asked him.

He shook his head. “She is not going to like it, anyway,” he answered. “I must speak to her direct. It would be like shirking.” Molly saw how true his instinct was here; and a little flame shot upward from

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.