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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Bart Ridgeley.

“My dear child,” she said, “I don’t know what to think of these strange and trying events, mixed up as they are.  There is one very, very unfortunate thing about it.”

“That I met Barton?  Oh, mother!”

“No, no; not that.  It was unfortunate that you came the way you did, or unfortunate that you went, perhaps; but it is not that.  It was most providential that Barton was with you, but so unfortunate that he said to you what he did.”

“Is it a misfortune to be loved, mother?”

“Let us not talk of this to-night, my darling,” stooping and kissing her still pale cheek.  “God only knows of these things.  It may not be a misfortune, but it may bring unhappiness, dear, to somebody.”

“Perhaps, mother, if he had not had such feelings he would not have come with me.”

“My child! my child! don’t say what might have happened.  I am glad and grateful—­so grateful that he was with you—­that he was generous enough to come, after what you said to him; but now, how can we express our gratitude to him?”

“Oh, mamma!  I am sure it is no matter.  He won’t care now what we think.”

“You are too much agitated, my daughter, to-night; let us not talk it over now.  But what became of Barton? did he come in?”

“No, I left him at the back gate, without a word, only waiting for me to run in.  Of course he went back to the woods and wild beasts.  What other place was there for him?”

“Don’t, don’t, Julia! don’t say such words.  Harm will not come to him.”

“I know it won’t,” said the young girl; “for when the whole world turns against a brave, true heart, God watches over it with the more care.”

“True, my child; and we can at least pray God to be near him, only don’t think of this matter now.  In a day or two you will be yourself, and look at it in a different light.  Your father will return to-morrow, and it may not be best to tell him of all this at present.  It would only disturb him.”

“Yes, mamma; I could not tell him everything as I have told you, and so I must not tell him anything, nor anybody else.  How wretched it all is!”

CHAPTER IX.

A darkened soul.

As Julia left Bart, the full force of her scornful words seemed for the first time to reach him.  The great restraint her presence imposed in some way suspended, or broke their effect, and he turned from the gate with a half-uttered moan of anguish.  He did not then recall her words or manner; he only realized that, in a cruel and merciless way, she had crushed his heart and soul.  It was not long; both recoiled with a sense of wrong and injustice, and utter helplessness, for the hurt came from a woman.  Instinctively he returned to the point whence they had emerged when they left the woods, and the thought of the screaming brute came to him with a sense of relief.  Here was an object upon which he could

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