“And the ‘little round Godamighty in the middle of it,’” said Mrs. Ripwinkley, her face all bright and her eyes full of tears.
Then Mrs. Ripwinkley told her Miss Craydocke’s story.
“Well,” said Luclarion, “there’s something dear and right-to-the-spot about it; but it does sound singular; and it certainly ain’t a thing to say careless.”
* * * * *
Desire Ledwith grew bright and excited as the summer came on, and the time drew near for going to Z——. She could not help being glad; she did not stop to ask why; summer-time was reason enough, and after the weariness of the winter, the thought of Z—— and the woods and the river, and sweet evenings and mornings, and gardens and orchards, and road-side grass, was lovely to her.
“It is so pleasant up there!” she would keep saying to Dorris; and somehow she said it to Dorris oftener than to anybody else.
There was something fitful and impetuous in her little outbursts of satisfaction; they noticed it in her; the elder ones among them noticed it with a touch of anxiety for her.
Miss Craydocke, especially, read the signs, matching them with something that she remembered far back in the life that had closed so peacefully, with white hairs and years of a serene content and patience, over all unrest and disappointment, for herself. She was sorry for this young girl, for whom she thought she saw an unfulfilled dream of living that should go by her like some bright cloud, just near enough to turn into a baptism of tears.
She asked Desire, one day, if she would not like to go with her, this summer, to the mountains.
Desire put by the suggestion hastily.
“O, no, thank you, Miss Craydocke, I must stay with mamma and Helena. And besides,” she added, with the strict, full truth she always demanded of herself, “I want to go to Z——.”
“Yes,” said Miss Craydocke.
There was something tender, like a shade of pity, in her tone.
“But you would enjoy the mountains. They are full of strength and rest. One hardly understands the good the hills do one. David did, looking out into them from Jerusalem. ’I will look to the hills, from whence cometh my strength.’”
“Some time,” said Desire. “Some time I shall need the hills, and—be ready for them. But this summer—I want a good, gay, young time. I don’t know why, except that I shall be just eighteen this year, and it seems as if, after that, I was going to be old. And I want to be with people I know. I can be gay in the country; there is something to be gay about. But I can’t dress and dance in the city. That is all gas-light and get-up.”
“I suppose,” said Miss Craydocke, slowly, “that our faces are all set in the way we are to go. Even if it is—” She stopped. She was thinking of one whose face had been set to go to Jerusalem. Her own words had led her to something she had not foreseen when she began.