Jerome, A Poor Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about Jerome, A Poor Man.
house, and she had been summoned to assist in the extra work.  Somehow time had hung idly on young Lawrence’s hands that summer; the guests in the house were staid elderly folk and no company for him.  There was also much sickness in the village, and his father was not as watchful as usual.  It happened that Lawrence, for lack of other amusement, would often saunter about the domestic byways of the house, and had a hand in various tasks which brought him into working partnership with pretty, young Elmira—­such as stemming currants or shelling pease and beans.  On several occasions, also, he and Elmira had roamed the pastures in search of blackberries for tea.  Once when they were out together, and had been picking a long time from one fat bush, neither saying a word—­for a strange silence which abashed them both, though they knew not why, had come between them—­the girl, moved thereto by some quick impulse of maidenly concealment and shame which she did not herself understand, made some light and trivial remark about the size of the fruit, which would well have acquit her had not her little voice broken with utter self-betrayal of innocent love and passion.  And then young Lawrence, with a quick motion, as of fire which leaps to flame after a long smoulder, flung an arm about her, with a sigh of “Oh, Elmira!” and kissed her on her mouth.

Then they had quickly stood apart, as if afraid of each other, and finished picking their berries and gone home soberly, with scarce a word.  But all the time it was as if invisible cords, which no stretching could thin or break, bound them together, and when they entered the house Doctor Prescott’s wife, Lydia, looked at them both with a gentle, yet keen and troubled air.  That night, when Elmira went home, she said to her softly that since the baking was all done for the week, and the guests were to leave in three days, and the weather was so warm, and she looked tired, she need not come again.  But she drew her to her gently, as she spoke, with one great mother-arm, pressed the little dark head of the girl against her breast, and kissed her.  Lydia Prescott was a large woman, shaped like a queen, but she was softer in her ways than Elmira’s own mother.

When the girl had gone she turned to her son, who had seen her caress, and blushed and thrilled as if he had given it himself.  “You must remember you are very young, Lawrence,” said she; “you must remember that a man has no right to follow his mind until he has proved it, and you must remember your father.”

And Lawrence had blushed and paled a little, and said, “Yes, mother,” soberly, and gone away up-stairs to his own chamber, where he had some wakeful hours, and when he fell asleep often started awake again, with his heart throbbing in his side with that same joyful pain as when he kissed pretty Elmira.

As for Elmira, she did not sleep at all, and came down in the morning with young eyes like stars of love, which no dawn could dim.  For six years the memory of that kiss, which had never been repeated, for Elmira had never seen Lawrence alone since, had been to her her sweetest honey savor of life.  Lucky it was for her that young Lawrence, if the taste had not been in his heart as in hers during his busy life in other scenes, had still the memory of its sweetness left.

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Jerome, A Poor Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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