“‘Gone, gone, gone!’ she sobbed.
“It was many minutes ere I succeeded in calming and making her understand ’twas but a dream.
“’Oh! but so real, so dreadfully real. I thought he did not care for me. That he had gone and left me, and they told me he was married!’
“Telling this, she began to sob again.
“’Lilly, dear, tell me truly—tell your sister, your very best friend—how it is you love your doctor?’ I asked.
“‘How?’ she returned. ’Oh, Edna, more than all the world! He is all that I have lost and more; and if he should die, or I should lose him, I would not wish to live. I could not live. He loves me a little, does he not, Edna?’
“I could not reply. Just then there was a terrible struggle going on in my heart. That must be ended, the victory won ere I could speak. She waited for my answer and then said, eagerly:
“‘Oh, speak, do! What are you thinking about?’
“Pressing back the sigh—back and far down into the poor heart—I gave her the sweet, and kept the bitter part, when I could answer.
“’Yes, dear, I do think he loves you a little now, and will, by-and-by, love you dearly. God grant he may!’
“‘Oh, you darling Edna! You have made me so happy!’ she cried, kissing me; and still caressing me she fell asleep.
“Next morning I enclosed the ring, with only these words:
if I cause you sorrow, and believe me your true
friend. I return the ring that I am not free to accept.’
“I intended that my reply should mislead him, when I wrote that I was not free, and thus to crush any hope that might linger in his heart. While at breakfast that morning, we received a telegram that grandma was extremely ill, and wanted me. Thus, fate seemed to forward my plans. I had thought to go away for a while, I told mother all. How her dear heart ached for me! Yet she dared not say aught against my decision. She took charge of the note for the doctor, and by noon I was on my journey. Two years passed ere I returned home. Mother wrote me but little news of either Lilly or her doctor after the first letter, telling that my note was a severe shock and great disappointment. Three or four months elapsed before grandma was strong enough for me to leave her. An opportunity at that time presented for my going to Europe. I wanted such an entire change, and gladly accepted. Frequently came letters from Lilly. For many months they were filled with doubts and anxiety; but after a while came happier and shorter ones. Ah, she had only time to be with him, and to think in his absence of his coming again.
“When I was beginning to tire of all the wonders and grandeur of the old world, and nothing would still the longing for home, the tidings came they were married, Lilly and her doctor, and gone to his Western home to take charge of the patients of his uncle, who had retired from practice. Then I hastened back, and ever since, dear girls, I have been contented, finding much happiness in trying to contribute to that of those so dear. Now, little Edna, you have my only love-story, its beginning and ending.”