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- Sara, a Princess - 40/43 -

"Then, Sara, there is nothing left for you but to be lady's maid!" giggled the other twin.

"I should rather like the position," smiled Sara, "to read aloud to her, answer her notes, do her errands, and"--

"Button her boots!" put in atrocious Molly again, at which Morton slapped at her with his napkin, when she fled--pursued by him--to the veranda, where decency demanded a cessation of hostilities.

Sara soon joined them, and a little later, Preston Garth,--who was back in town for a day or so, to assist in setting up some new apparatus lately arrived at the laboratory,--strolled up the walk.

"You're too late!" exclaimed Molly saucily, as he dropped upon the upper step, and began fanning himself vigorously with his hat; "Morton's eaten up all the muffins, and I think Sara finished the peaches."

"And I suppose, as usual, Miss Molly had nothing," was the ironic reply.

"Oh, a trifle--not worth mentioning"--

"Yes, Molly has a starved appearance, as you may have observed," put in Sara. "But, Mr. Garth, in spite of her discouraging remarks, I think we could find"--

"Oh, thank you, Miss Olmstead--I have been to tea; just left the table, in fact, and am on my way back to the museum, so dropped in here. Has anybody noticed the sunset to-night?" All turned to observe it (the house fronted towards the south), and simultaneously exclaimed at its grandeur. The sun was just dropping behind a thunderous bank of clouds, closely resembling a range of mountains capped with snow, now tinged ruddily with the dying light, and between these crowding peaks was an arched opening, as if a vaulted passageway had been blasted through the mass of rock, giving a vista of pale blue sky, from which radiated prismic bars of light, while way above the topmost peak, like some beacon-light suspended high, swung the new moon, a slender crescent, also near its setting.

"Oh, I saw it over my right shoulder!" cried Molly gayly. "Don't you long to hear what wish I made?"

"Not half so much as you long to tell it," replied Morton cruelly.

"How snubbed I feel!" she sniffed, amid the laughter, making a face at him. "But if you knew it included you--Mr. Garth, do you believe in omens?"

"Really, Miss Molly, I never thought--in fact, I don't know of any, do I? What omens?"

"Oh, that you're going to quarrel, if you spill the salt, and that it's bad luck to step over a crack in the floor, and you musn't begin things on Friday, and"--

"Molly, what nonsense! I thought we agreed to forget all that kind of thing when the mirror broke," said Morton.

"Yes; when instead of bringing us misfortune it brought us comfort. Did we ever tell you about that, Mr. Garth?" asked Sara; then, as he gave a negative sign, she repeated the story.

He listened interestedly.

"Where did you live, then, Miss Olmstead?"

"In Killamet--a tiny fishing-village on the coast. We are the children of a fisherman, perhaps you know."

"You?" surprisedly. "I would never have thought it! I supposed"--He stopped in some confusion, and colored.

"Say it out!" urged Morton.

"Yes, relieve your mind," added Molly; "it won't stand too much pressure."

"Molly, be quiet!" interposed Sara peremptorily.

"Well," said the young man at this, giving Molly a queer glance, "I had always supposed fishermen to be a rude sort of people--entirely unlike you all, of course."

"'With the exception of one,' you would say, if you dared," added Molly instantly. "But you needn't blame any of my ancestors for my tongue-- Sara will tell you our mother was a real lady, in speech and manners, and our father one of Nature's noblemen. I was probably changed in the cradle by some wicked fairy."

"Let us thank the creature for leaving such a unique specimen, at least," laughed Mr. Garth, completely mollified; (if you will not accuse us of an insane desire to make a pun). "Come, fairy changeling, and let's have a song together."

"Yes, if you won't insist upon classical music more than half the time. Do you know what I'd like to sing to-night?" rising to go indoors; "one of those rollicking, rioting old sailor-songs, with no tune, and not many more words, but with a catchiness in the two or three bars that gives you the sensation of a ship rolling and pitching under your feet-- but Sara won't let me, so"--laughing mischievously--"I suppose I'll have to come down to Bach and Wagner!"

Sara left alone outside, for Morton now departed for the store, seated herself in one of the piazza-chairs to listen at her leisure. The twilight was deepening into the warm, scented dusk of a mid-summer eve, with nameless soft noises amid the dew and the perfume, as countless tiny creatures settled themselves to repose or came out for their nightly dance beneath the stars.

The tender influences of night and silence inwrapped the girl as if in motherly arms, and she felt glad, and hushed, and still. What was the little struggle of a day when all this great, yet minute world lived, slept, woke and worked, subject to one Will--a Will mighty enough to control the universe, precise enough to make perfect and beautiful the down upon the wing of an insect invisible except under a powerful microscope? Why should she fret, or worry, or dread?

"I have but one care," she said, "to do right--to abide by my inner heaven-given instinct, which we call conscience, the rest is of the Will."

She leaned her head back restfully against the small down pillow tied by gay ribbons to her chair; but her resting soul leaned against an Arm,-- mighty to save, and tender to feel. Amid all her musings ran the sweet strains of the old English ballad the others were singing inside, whose refrain only was clear to her,--

"Trust me, Love, only Trust!"

A figure moving with a springing motion came swiftly up the gravelled walk and mounted the steps. Not till then did Sara notice it. She turned, rose, and stepped forward; and as the figure advanced to meet her, it stood full in the light streaming through the drawing-room windows.

"Robert?" she questioned, still in a dream, and not realizing that she had used a name only whispered in her own heart till now.

"Yes, Sara," was the reply, "I have come--were you waiting for me?"

Still only half herself, so sudden and surprising was all this, she answered in his own tone, quiet, but threaded with deep meaning,--

"Yes, I--think I was."

He drew her to him, whispered three little words--and the new moon, just dipping her last upturned horn beneath the horizon, may have seen their kiss of betrothal; but if so, she modestly withdrew from sight, and never told the sweet secret.

I suppose my story should properly end here, but Sara felt that hers was just beginning. With arm linked in arm the two went softly down the steps, and strolled through the odorous hush of the garden, trying to tell the emotions of three years in as many minutes, while the unconscious couple within sang, and sparred, and sang again, perfectly certain of their unseen listener outside. After the first few moments, in which they could think of nothing but their own two selves, so strangely and quickly bound into one, Sara asked,--

"But how did you happen to be here just now, Robert?"

"Because I came! I was like a chained beast all the time you were ill, though Molly's letters gave only the most cheering news, but I knew I couldn't see you if I were here, and I mustn't leave aunt; but when word came from uncle that he was down with a malarial attack at Omaha, on his way home, and she started at once to nurse him, I made up my mind very shortly as to my next move--which was to pack my grip and come on, to 'put my courage to the test, to win or lose it all.'"

"It required a great deal of courage!" laughed Sara.

"More than you think, sweetheart. I was not at all sure of your feelings towards me--to tell the truth, I have been horribly jealous of that singing-fellow--what's his name--Garth, isn't it?"

Sara laughed merrily, and just then a booming strain rolled out from the drawing-room upon the silent air.

"Listen!" she said; "isn't that a fine baritone? That's something from Offenbach, I think."

"Magnificent!" returned Robert unsuspiciously, thrilling at her light, trustful touch upon his arm. "Who is it? Some friend of the Macons?"

"No, of ours. It is--Mr. Preston Garth."

He started, looked at her, and even in the dusk caught the amused flash of her eye.

"The rascal! Must I then run upon him the very first minute of my meeting you?" he queried tragically.

"Not necessarily--still perhaps, just for politeness' sake, we had better go back and say good-night to him. I think they have finished now, the music seems to have ceased."

They turned back towards the house just as Molly, who, with Mr. Garth, had now come out upon the veranda, cried excitedly,

"Why, she's gone. Sara! Sara! Where are you?"

Sara, a Princess - 40/43

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