Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/375

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333
ALICE B. NEAL.

manly in telling you how my very heart has gone out to you, at your first bidding? I have never lost trace of your labours. I have seen what you have done for those scattered people. I read of the consecration of your little church; and once I have seen one who had met you, and who told me of your fervour, and that you were wearing yourself out by your never-ceasing labour. He said your eyes were large and dark, though sunken, and that you looked too frail for so rude a life. You see it was not all imagination.

“Yes, we will come. My father has said so with his blessing, and he will renew his youth living among the beautiful things of nature; and I shall know you there face to face as I know you now in spirit, gentle, patient, unselfish.”


The promise was kept, strange as it may seem to those who walk ever in the beaten track of cold formalities. It was again evening on those broad prairie lands, and Paul Stanbridge waited the approaching twilight, pondering on the new revelation of life, the seals of which another day would open. He wondered if it were not a blessed dream, and then he turned to look once more at the few comforts he had recently gathered in his little cabin for her who was henceforth to be its mistress. She had always loved flowers. How fortunate that he had twined the prairie rose and the clematis over the misshapen walls of his dwelling! and the smooth lawn-like slope to the river-side, how peaceful it all seemed as it slept in the sun’s last rays!

Suddenly, he felt rather than saw an approach, and he turned to find two coming slowly towards him. No, no, it was a dream—they could not reach even the village before the morrow—and the strangers were alone, and coming as if they knew the foot-path.

It was no dream; one more glance, and he knew that venerable form; an instant, and that noble woman was clasped in a welcoming embrace. There was no coldness, no formality in that greeting. She was all that he had dreamed and pictured; she was much more than he had dared to hope; and she had bound him for ever by her trustful confidence, her womanly devotion. So they were united for life or death. Her father blessed them as he had done before,