“Oh, that’s all right. I’m glad you mentioned it.”
Still a dull, miserable pain fastened itself in Rupert Ames’ heart the rest of the evening; and even when the company had gone, and Miss Wilton had lingered and sweetly said “Good-night,” and the lights were out, strange thoughts and feelings drove from his eyes the sleep that usually came peacefully to him.
Rupert Ames was in love. The fact became the central idea of his existence.
During Rupert’s busy life, love affairs had not occupied much of his attention. Of course, he, in common with the rest of young mankind, thought that some day he would love some girl and make her his wife; but it was always as a far-away dream to him, connected with an angelic perfection which he always found missing in the workaday world. His wife must be a pure, perfect creature. Marriage was a sacred thing—one of the great events in a person’s life. Not that these views had now changed altogether, for Miss Virginia Wilton came nearer his ideal than anyone he had yet met. Still, there was considerable of the tangible present about her. She was educated, businesslike, and a leader, and he, ambitious of attaining to something in the world, would need such a woman for his wife. But that sting which Volmer Holm had given him! His wife must be beyond suspicion. He could not afford to make a mistake, for if he did, it would be the mistake of his life. But was it a sin for a girl to sing in an opera? Certainly not. Anyway, he would not condemn her unheard—and then, he was sure he loved her. It had come to him unbidden. It was no fault of his that this girl should have come into his common life, and, seemingly, completely change it.
The autumn days passed. With the work of harvesting and marketing there was no time for social gatherings. The school teacher had changed her boarding place, and her path lay no longer past the Ames farm. So Rupert mingled his thoughts with his labors, and in time there emerged from that fusion a fixed purpose.
That fall Rupert’s time as school trustee expired. At the first meeting of the new board, Miss Wilton’s position was given to a male teacher. The reason given for the change was that “It takes a man to govern boys.” Other reasons, however, could be heard in the undercurrent of talk.
The first Sunday after he heard of it, Rupert found Miss Wilton, and together they walked up the canyon road. It was a dull, cloudy day, and not a breath moved the odorous choke-cherry bushes which lined the dusty road. Never mind what was said and done that afternoon. ’Tis an old, old story. Between woman’s smiles and tears, the man gained hope and courage, and when that evening they came down the back way through the fields and orchards, Virginia Wilton was Rupert Ames’ promised wife.
“O Lord, lead me in a plain path.”—Isaiah 27:11.