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

CHAPTER X.

After the flood.

The next morning Bart was not up as usual, and George rushed into the low-ceiled room, under the roof.

“Bart! breakfast is ready!  Ma thinks it strange you ain’t up.  That was a splendid big bass.  Where did you take him?  Are you sick?” as he came in.

“No, Georgie; I am only languid and dull.  I must have been wofully tired.”

“I should think you would be, running all day and up all night.  I should think you’d be hungry, too, by this time.”

“Georgie, how handsome you look this morning!  What a splendid young man you will be, and so bright, and joyous, and good!  Everybody will love you; no woman will scorn you.  There, tell mother not to wait!  I will get up soon.”

Some time after, the light, quick step of his mother was heard approaching his door, where she paused as if to listen.

“I am up, mother,” called out Bart; and she found him partly dressed, and sitting listlessly on his bed, pale and dejected.

“It is nothing, mother; I’m only a little depressed and dull.  I’ll be all right in an hour.  I ran in the woods a good deal, took cold, and am tired.”

She looked steadily and wistfully at him.  The great change in his face could not escape her.  Weary he looked, and worn, as from a heart-ill.

“What has happened, Barton?  Did you go to anybody’s house?  Whom did you see?”

“No; I went to the pond, and met the Doctor and Uncle Jonah, and Theodore came home with me.”

“Did you meet Julia Markham anywhere?”

“I did; she was going home from Coe’s by the old road, and I went out of the woods with her.”

A long, hard-drawn breath from his mother, who saw that he took her question like a stab.

“It is no matter, mother.  It had to be over some time.”

“Barton! you don’t mean, Barton—­”

“I do, just that, mother,” steadily.  “She was kinder in her scorn than she meant.  It was what I needed.”

“Her scorn! her scorn, Barton!”

“Yes, her scorn, mother,” decidedly and firmly.

“You must have talked and acted foolishly, Barton.”

“I did talk and act foolishly, and I take the consequences.”

“You are both young, Barton, and you have all the world in which to overcome your faults and repair your mistakes, and Julia—­”

“Not another word of her, mother dear!  She has gone more utterly out of my life than as if she were buried.  Then I might think of her; now I will not,” firmly.

“Oh, that this should come to you now, my poor, poor boy!”

“Don’t pity me, mother!  I am soft enough now, and don’t you for a moment think that I have nothing else to do in this world but to be killed out of it by the scorn of a girl.  Let us not think of these Markhams.  The Judge is ambitious, and proud of his wealth and self, and his daughter is ambitious too.  The world wants me; it has work for me.  I can hear its voices calling me now, and I am not ready.  Don’t think I am to sit and languish and pine for any girl;” and his mouth was firm with will and purpose, and a great swell of pride and pain agitated the bosom of his mother, who recognized the high elements of a nature drawn from her own.

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