Page:Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 5.djvu/175

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prise I was told to 'go into the dining room, and missis would attend to it.'

"I went and found myself face to face, not with 'missis,' but the woman I had loved hopelessly but faithfully all that hard year, since I had gone away to fight my battle alone.

"For a moment I believed she did not know me, in my shabby suit and besmirched face. But she did, and with a world of feeling in her own sweet face, she offered me, not money, but her hand, saying in a voice that made my heart leap up,—

"'Richard, I was afraid you had gone down as so many disappointed young men go when their ambitious hopes fail; but I am so glad, so proud to see in your face that you still work and wait, like a brave and honest man. I must speak to you!'

"What could I do after that but hold the white hand fast in both my grimy ones, while I told my little story, and the hope that had come at last. Heaven knows I told it very badly, for those tender eyes were upon me all the time, so full of unspoken