“You. You knew about it all and you married her mother. I know all about it, and I wish to marry herself.”
“You know that she never heard the story?”
“Yes. She never shall.”
“No, John—she never must. Well, all good go with you.”
So Charles Juxon gave his consent. And Mary Juxon consented too; but for the first time in many years the tears rose again to her eyes, and she laid her hand on John’s arm, as they walked together in the park.
“Oh, John,” she said, “do you think it is right—for you yourself?”
“Of course I think so,” quoth John stoutly.
“You John—with your reputation, your success, with the whole world at your feet—you ought not to marry the daughter of—of such a man.”
“My dear Mrs. Juxon,” said John Short, “is she not your daughter as well as his? Pray, pray do not mention that objection. I assure you I have thought it all over. There is really nothing more to be said, which I have not said to myself. Dear Mrs. Juxon—do say Yes!”
“You are very generous, John, as well as great,” she answered looking up to his face. “Well—I have nothing to say. You must do as you think best. I am sure you will be kind to Nellie, for I have known you for ten years—you may tell her I am very glad—” she stopped, her eyes brimming over with tears.
“Do you remember how angry I was once, when you told me to go and talk to Nellie?” said John. “It was just here, too—”
Mary Juxon laughed happily and brushed the tears from her eyes. So it was all settled.
Once more the Reverend Augustin Ambrose united two loving hearts before the altar of Saint Mary’s. He was well stricken in years, and his hair and beard were very white. Mrs. Ambrose also grew more imposing with each succeeding season, but her face was softer than of old, and her voice more gentle. For the sorrow and suffering of a few days had drawn together the hearts of all those good people with strong bands, and a deep affection had sprung up between them all. The good old lady felt as though Mary Juxon were her daughter—Mary Juxon, by whom she had stood in the moment of direst trial and terror, whom she had tended in illness and cheered in recovery. And the younger woman’s heart had gone out towards her, feeling how good a thing it is to find a friend in need, and learning to value in her happiness the wealth of human kindness she had found in her adversity.
They are like one family, now, having a common past, a common present, and a common future, and there is no dissension among them. Honest and loyal men and women may meet day after day, and join hands and exchange greetings, without becoming firm friends, for the very reason that they have no need of each other. But if the storm of a great sorrow breaks among them and they call out to each other for help, and bear the brunt of the weather hand in hand, the seed of a deeper affection is brought into their midst; and when the tempest is past the sweet flower of friendship springs up in the moistened furrows of their lives.