She had almost forgotten the object of her visit, and the abruptness with which it was recalled to her embarrassed her.
“I—I want to pay you for Duke. I have some money of my own in the bank and I think——”
“But I gave Duke to you.” He looked grieved. “I accepted Gift from you, I don’t see——”
“You don’t understand. Do you remember what you said when you gave me Duke? You said if I ever left Florida I’d have to give him back to you.”
“That was before I had Gift.”
“And you wouldn’t take Duke from me?” She sprang to her feet.
“Not for the world.”
Suddenly Beth seized Duke, and danced around and around with him. “Oh, goody. Duke, you old dear, we needn’t stay awake nights worrying over that part any more.”
Mr. Brown hitched up and drove Beth back. On the way, she told him of the fire, and how Duke had saved their lives. Duke and Gift were following the carriage, and perhaps Duke was telling his son of his own heroism, because Gift often barked as if excited over something.
Mr. Brown said he would like to see the ruins and so Beth drove with him to the homestead. They found Mr. Davenport, Julia, Harvey, Maggie, and Gustus out near the stables.
“Why Beth, where have you been?” cried her father.
She jumped out of the carriage and ran and threw herself into her father’s arms. “Papa, now that our house is gone, I was afraid you’d take us back North to live. I don’t want to go, but if I had to go, it would have broken my heart to part with Duke, but now, I’ll never, never have to part with him, no matter what happens. Mr. Brown says he’s mine forever.”
“Dear, I do not expect to go back North. Next fall, we’ll build a fine new house, and you shall be a little Florida lady the rest of your life, if you wish.”
“I’m to live South always,” cried Beth, turning a radiant face toward her friends.
“Three cheers for our little Florida lady,” proposed Harvey. All present joined in the hurrahing that followed. Gustus’s voice rang out the loudest of any.
Beth’s face was radiant. The sun was shining once more for her. Her two great fears had proved groundless. Duke was hers, and henceforth she was to remain A Little Florida Lady.
***End of the project gutenberg EBOOK A little Florida lady***
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