Of course this arch plotter kept all this to herself, for she well knew that her brother would sternly oppose all match-making of this sort; but it became a dearly cherished plan with her, and she bent all her energies toward its accomplishment.
“I Shall Never Marry Again.”
Virgie returned to San Francisco about two weeks after Sir William quitted the city.
Her little girl, now more than two years old, was much improved, and had grown to be a remarkably interesting child, while she was of the greatest comfort to her mother whose every hope was now centered in her.
Virgie entered upon her work with renewed interest, although she had not been idle during the summer by any means. With her pen she had copied nature in every possible phase, and had brought home, for her winter’s campaign, rich treasures of beauty and art.
She had for some time been engaged upon quite an extensive work, which was to be elegantly bound, and which promised to be something very rare and unique.
She threw herself into this with such energy, after her return, and worked at it so steadily and with so much enthusiasm, that Mr. Knight really began to fear that she would overtax her strength.
From the first he had been deeply interested in the beautiful and talented woman who bore her sorrows so bravely and battled so courageously with the adverse fate that had well-nigh ruined her life. He had pitied her friendlessness, and tried to throw around her a sort of fatherly care and protection; but as he came to know her better, to realize her strength of mind and character, and beauty of disposition, a warmer feeling began to take the place of pity and compassion, until, as she grew to confide in and rely upon him more and more, the hope that he might perhaps win her to share and brighten his lonely home during the declining years of his life, gradually dawned upon him, and he finally resolved to ask her to become his wife.
“I could save her from all this toil, and all uncertainty about the future. I would ask no greater happiness than to see her mistress of my home during the remainder of my life, and then, when I am gone, she will have all my wealth to smooth her own future.”
Thus he mused while considering the propriety of putting his fate to the test.
One day Virgie came into his office to consult with him regarding some point connected with her book, and he thought she appeared weary and looked paler than usual.
“You are working too hard, Mrs. Alexander,” he said. “Do not apply yourself so closely—there is no need.”
“No need?” returned Virgie; “there is every need. I am very mercenary, Mr. Knight,” she added, smiling “I am determined to make all the money I can, so that my dear little girl may have every advantage by and by.”
“But if you tax your strength too severely you may break down, and that would be far worse than not to make money quite so rapidly.”