When told of the errand upon which he was to go, he had consented for the sake of the dying man; but he had expected to find a very rustic couple in this rough region, and he was wholly taken aback to meet a polished gentleman like Mr. Heath—as he was still known except to Virgie and her father—and such an interesting and lovely woman as his young hostess appeared to be.
The clergyman spent an hour with the invalid after tea, and he was no less mystified and astonished regarding him. He realized that he was in a household of more than ordinary culture and refinement, and he was sure that there must be some strange history connected with their lives.
When Virgie went to bid her father good-night before going to her rest, he drew her down to him and looked tenderly and wistfully into her face.
“My daughter,” he questioned, “you have no shrinking no misgivings regarding the step that you are about to take?”
“None, papa,” she said, softly.
“And are you happy in the prospect of becoming Sir William’s wife? Tell me truly, my child.”
“As happy as I can be while you are so ill, papa,” Virgie answered, with starting tears.
“Then I am at peace. God bless you, my darling, and may your life have much of sunshine in it. I give you without fear into Will’s care, for I believe him to be one of nature’s noblemen. And now,” taking a package from beneath his pillow, here is your marriage dowry; it is all yours, Virgie, to do with as you will, and Sir William has promised to settle as much more upon you, which he will tell you about later. You have been a dear, good daughter to me, and I am very happy regarding your future; I could not ask or wish anything better for you.”
“Oh, papa, if I could only have you well again!” Virgie whispered, hiding her tearful eyes upon his pillow.
An expression of pain flitted over the sick man’s face.
“We will not think of that now,” he said, gently; “and you must not give way to grief, for it will unnerve us both, and I do not wish to see a pale or sorrowful bride to-morrow. Now good-night, love, and try to get all the rest that you can.”
He kissed her again, and was about to let her go, when he caught her hand, saying, with something of eagerness:
“But, by the way, Virgie, what will you wear to be married in?”
The young girl flushed, and her lips trembled.
“Oh papa, I have hardly given a thought to that, my heart has been so heavy for you,” she murmured, brokenly. Then she added, after a moment of thought: “I have my pretty silk that you sent to San Francisco for in the spring, and I wondered when I should ever wear it here, you know. It will do, will it not?”
Mr. Abbot sighed.
“I suppose it will have to, since it is the best you have. I should like to have you married in something white, dear; but make yourself look as nicely as you can,” he said in an unsteady voice.