For answer, she extended her hand in silence, and across the grave of the child who had worshipped her, he clasped and raised it reverently to his lips.
Its pallid whiteness struck him mournfully. He kissed it again and again. “A brave right hand to wield in one’s own defense, and battle with a cold and selfish world. It is like nothing in the world but a snowflake, as light and as pure.”
“Now, you are laughing at me,” she said, the deep carnation blooms in her cheeks making her beautiful.
He gave her a glance of adoration. “Here,” he said, having disengaged something from his watch-chain, “is a ring that belonged to an only and beloved sister who died in early youth. I have a fancy it would fit your finger, and I always intended it for my wife, as the most highly valued gift I could bestow upon her. How would you fancy it for an engagement ring?” slipping it upon her finger, where it hung loosely.
“I should prize it more than a Queen’s diadem,” said Clemence, eloquently.
“You shall have the diamonds, by-and-by,” giving her another glance that riveted her own, and then he kissed her, as the seal of their betrothal.
“I was just thinking of you, Betsey,” said Mrs. Wynn, as the figure of the spinster appeared in the doorway of her little sitting room. “Set right down, and I’ll have a cup of tea ready in less than five minutes.”
“Thank’ee, I believe I will,” said Miss Pryor, “though I didn’t intend to stay only long enough to tell you the news. I put this shawl over my head and run just as I was.”
“That’s right, I’m glad of it. We’ll have a sociable time now, Mr. Wynn’s cleared out. I never could bear a man around my kitchen. But what news do you mean!”
“Why, ain’t you heard?”
“Not a livin’ word of anything. What on earth can have happened so wonderful?”
“Well, that does beat all. Just to think! And you ain’t seen a certain magnificent gentleman, as grand as a prince, that sailed up to Widder Hardyng’s and asked for Miss Clemence Graystone? Every girl in town is in love with him already.”
“Do tell! And here I be tied to the house waitin’ on Rose, and never dreamin’ all that’s goin’ on. You might have come over and told me before, Betsey. I’d have done the same by you.”
“Seein’ as how it all happened yesterday, and I only found it out last evening after prayer meeting’, and it ain’t ten o’clock in the forenoon yet, I calkerlate I ain’t done anything so very monstrous,” said that individual, in an injured tone.
However, the sight of a steaming cup of tea that filled the air with its appetizing fragrance, soon mollified her, and after dispatching one cup at boiling point, she paused to take breath before partaking of a second.