Ruth turned abruptly away. The very thought that possessed the heart of the plain-looking man and that so annoyed her; and these two, whom to know was an honor, were looking forward to that consummation as the height of it all!
A WAR OF WORDS.
“Well, why not?” she said, as she went slowly down the aisle. Of course all these people would be in heaven together, and why should they not look forward to a companionship untrameled by earthly forms and conventionalities, and uncumbered by the body in its present dull and ponderous state? What a chance to get into the best society! the highest circle! real best, too, not made up of money, or blood, or dress, or any of the flimsy and silly barriers that fenced people in and out now. Then at once she felt her own inconsistency in growing disgusted with the plainly-dressed, common-looking man. If he did really belong to that “royal family,” why not rejoice over it? Wasn’t she the foolish one? She by no means liked these reflections, but she could not get away from them.
“How do you do?” said a clear, round voice behind her; not speaking to her, but to some one whom he was very glad to see, judging from his tone. And the voice was peculiar; she had been listening to it for an hour, and could not be mistaken; it belonged to Dr. Cuyler himself. She turned herself suddenly. Here was a chance for a nearer view, and to see who was being greeted so heartily. It was the little lady whose society had been thrust upon her that morning by Flossy. And they were shaking hands as though they were old and familiar acquaintances!
“It is good to see your face again,” that same hearty voice which seemed to have so much good fellowship in it was saying. “I didn’t know you were to be here; I’m real glad to see you again, and what about the husband and the dear boy?”
At which point it occurred to Miss Ruth Erskine that she was listening to conversation not designed for her ears. She moved away suddenly, in no way comforted or sweetened as to her temper by this episode. Why should that little bit of an insignificant woman have the honor of such a cordial greeting from the great man, while he did not even know of her existence?
To be sure, Dr. Cuyler had baptized and received into church fellowship and united in marriage the little woman with whom he was talking; but Ruth, even if she had known these circumstances, was in no mood to attach much importance to them.
She wandered away from the crowd down by the lake-side. She stopped at Jerusalem on her way, and poked her parasol listlessly into the sand of which the hills lying about that city were composed, and thought:
“What silly child’s play all this was! How absurd to suppose that people were going to get new ideas by playing at cities with bits of painted board and piles of sand! Even if they could get a more distinct notion of its surroundings, what difference did it make how Jerusalem looked, or where it stood, or what had become of the buildings?”