And the almost broken-hearted girl promised, but feeling as if it would be almost more than she could bear, to go back to the gay world, where she would be kindly cared for and sheltered, and leave her dear father lying in his lonely grave upon that desolate mountain.
William Heath entered with great apparent interest upon his mining operations, and although he frankly acknowledged his entire ignorance of the business, exhibited a goodly amount of judgment and common sense which warned the workmen whom he had hired that it would not be well for them to attempt to take advantage of him.
He was unable to find any place in which he was willing to live, so he caused a small cabin to be erected just opposite Mr. Abbot’s dwelling, furnished it simply but comfortably from the nearest supply station, and with Mr. Abbot’s permission, contracted with Chi Lu to keep his table supplied with all needful provisions.
No one would have supposed from his humble surroundings from the industrious and energetic life which he led, and the total absence of anything like arrogance or assumption, that he belonged to an almost royal family, and had been for years the petted darling of fashionable circles and drawing rooms, the catch of many seasons, and the prize for which fond mammas and beautiful, aspiring maidens had long angled in vain.
But such was the fact, and William Heath had thus isolated himself from his home and all that he held most dear simply because, while on a pleasure trip, he had accidentally met a beautiful girl who had chanced to touch a chord in his heart that had never vibrated before.
These two young people were now thrown almost daily into each other’s society.
Mr. Heath was quite literary in his tastes, and after the duties of the day were over he invariably sought the companionship of Virgie, sometimes reading to her while she worked, and often with her as she still persisted in reviewing certain studies and authors which she loved.
The failing invalid, too, received much of his care and attention, while many delicacies, which he had never taken pains to procure for himself, found their way to his table to help sustain his waning strength.
It is easy to see whither all this tended.
Virgie soon learned to look for Heath’s coming, to listen for his footsteps and the sound of his voice, as she had never looked for or listened to anything else in the world before. She began to rely upon him, to experience a sense of restfulness and content in his care that sometimes made her wonder how she had ever been able to live without him.
There came new beauty, and light, and earnestness into her face, a tenderer smile to her red lips, a more musical cadence into her voice. The hours dragged heavily without him, and they took to themselves wings when he came.
Before she realized the fact she had learned to love him with all the strength of her nature, and her destiny was sealed.