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- Senator North - 56/56 -


"I don't know that your mental exercise has done you any harm," he had written, "but it certainly was thrown away. You have too much common- sense and too thorough a capacity for loving to do anything so foolish or so outrageous as to marry the wrong man. If you had followed a romantic impulse--induced by nervous excitement--and married him the day you learned that your word might be put to too severe a test, you would have been miserable, and so would Burleigh. A mistaken sense of duty has been the cause of quite one fourth of the unhappiness of mankind, and few have been so bigoted as not to acknowledge this when too late. And a broken engagement is a small injustice to a man compared to a lifetime with an unloving wife. Burleigh is unhappy now, but it is no lack of admiration which prompts me to say that if he had married you he would have been unhappier still. You could do nothing by halves.

"Formalities with us would be an affectation unworthy of either, and I have come to you at once. I knew that you would send for me, but I preferred to wait until you wrote that your engagement was broken. What I felt when I received your note announcing it, I leave to your imagination, and I forgot it as quickly as possible. I understood perfectly, but you exaggerated the dangers; for my love for you is so great and so absorbing, so complete in all its parts, that nothing but marriage would satisfy me. I should have preferred a memory to a failure.

"If your mother were with you, I should go over to-night. But I shall wait for you at five to-morrow morning where you were in the habit of letting me board your boat. And the day will not be long enough! R. N."

Betty slept little that night, but felt no lack of freshness the next morning when she rose shortly after four. A broken night meant little to her now, and happiness would have stimulated every faculty if she had not slept for a week.

She rowed swiftly across the lake. It was almost June now, and the warmth of summer was in the air, the paler greens among the grim old trees of the forest. The birds had come from the South and were singing to the accompaniment of the pines, the roar of distant cataracts; and yet the world seemed still. The stars were white and faint; the moon was tangled in a treetop on the highest peak.

He might have been the only man awake as he stood with the forest behind him, and she recalled her fancy that although her horizon was thick with flying mist his figure stood there, immovable, always. He looked as if he had not moved since he stood there last, but the mist was gone.

As he stepped into the boat, she moved back that he might take the oars.

"I have on a white frock, and a blue ribbon in my hair," she said nervously, but smiling, "else I could not have forgotten that a year has come and gone."

He too was smiling. "I think it is the only year we ever shall want to forget," he said. And he rowed up the lake.


Senator North - 56/56

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