Mr. Heath Talks of Becoming a Miner.
The next morning broke fair and beautiful.
Every trace of the storm had passed away, save that the dust was laid and all nature looked fresher and brighter for the copious bath it had received.
Virgie Abbot, despite her sleeplessness during the first half of the night, was up at an early hour, superintending breakfast for her father and their guest.
If she had been lovely the previous evening she was doubly so now in her pretty flannel wrapper—for the mornings were chilly in that region, even in the summer The wrapper was of a light blue tint, wonderfully becoming to her delicate complexion, and harmonized well with her eyes and the dainty pink in her cheeks.
Her face wore a brighter, more eager look, than was its wont, this morning, and she was full of life and energy that was born of her youth and sunny, hopeful temperament.
The incidents of the previous evening had been a pleasant break in her hitherto monotonous life, and she was now looking forward, with no small degree of interest, to meeting by daylight the handsome stranger who had taken refuge with them.
During all the years that she had been in that rude place she had not seen one real gentleman, excepting her father; they had never before entertained a visitor, and there had been nothing but her reading and studies, her drawing and fancy work, to vary the quiet, almost dull uniformity of her existence.
Mr. Abbot himself looked brighter and better as he came out from his chamber and gave Virgie his usual morning greeting and caress.
This visit had evidently done him good also, and Virgie took “heart of grace” from the fact, and put aside, for the time at least, the anxious fears that had so burdened her the night before.
Breakfast was served in the simple but clean and cheerful kitchen which led from the parlor, while the small table, laid for three, had almost an air of elegance, with its spotless cloth, its few pieces of silver, china, and cut glass, relics of former glory, and the tiny vase of flowers, with the dew and rain still on them, which Virgie had gathered from the edge of the cliff near by.
Mr. Heath’s glance expressed something of surprise as it swiftly took in these appointments; but to him the fairest sight of all was the slim but perfect figure of the young girl who sat at the head of the table, and poured his coffee, and waited upon him with all the ease and self-possession of one who had been long accustomed to the formalities and etiquette of high life.
The young man wondered at it. There was no other woman in the house, nor had been since they came there, for Mr. Abbot had mentioned that he lost his wife more than six years ago; but this girl was a perfect little hostess, and dainty, to the last degree, in her person. Her hands were white and delicate, the pretty pink nails without a blemish; her hair soft and silken, showing a careful wielding of the brush; her linen collar and cuffs were immaculate, her handkerchief white as snow, and fine and sheer, while everything about her bespoke lady-like refinement and a high regard for nicety of toilet.