Mr. Davis shook hands with us all just as the clock tolled nine, and to Clara he said:
“Sister, angels have anointed thee; do thy work.”
This was a visit such as might never occur again. Truly and strangely our life was a panorama all these days. I dreamed all night of Clara and her thoughts, and through her eyes that were bent on me in that realm of dreams, I read chapters of the life to come.
It would be now only a few days to Mr. Benton’s return, and I dreaded it, never thinking of him without a shudder passing over me; Aunt Hildy would have called it “nervous creepin’.” I felt that this was wrong, and especially so since I knew I was thus hindered in the well-doing for which I so longed.
“Happiness comes from the inner room,” said Aunt Hildy; “silver and gold and acres of land couldn’t make a blind man see.”
Her comparisons were apt, and her ideas pebbles of wisdom, clear and white, gathered from experience and polished by suffering. Both she and Clara were books which I read daily. How differently they were written! and then how different from both was the wisdom of a mother whose light seemed daily to grow more beautiful. It seemed when I thought of it as if no one had ever such good teachers. And now if I could only break these knots which had been tangled through Mr. Benton’s misunderstanding of me, there seemed no reasonable excuse for not progressing. Church affairs had been happily regulated, so far as Mr. Davis and our few nearer friends were concerned, and the sermon on good deeds which he preached the Sabbath after his visit to us was more than worthy of him.
Clara said, “He talked of things he really knew; facts are more beautiful than fancies.”
“And stand by longer,” added Aunt Hildy.
Louis was to come on the first of July, his mother not deeming it advisable for him to study through that month; but Mr. Benton preceded him and came the first day of June. It was a royal day, and he entered the door while the purplish tinge of sunset covered the hills and lay athwart the doorway.
“Home again,” was his first salutation.
“Very welcome,” said Hal and father; mother met him cordially, and I came after them with Clara at my side, and only said:
“How do you do, Mr. Benton?”
He grasped my hand and held it for an instant in a vice-like grasp. I darted a look of reproof at him, and the abused look he wore at our last talk came back and settled on his features.
It seemed to me the more I tried to keep out of his way the more fate would compel me to go near him. Hal was very busy, and it seemed as if Clara had never spent so much time in her own room as now, when I needed her so much. Mother was not well, and every afternoon took a long nap, so I was left down stairs, and no matter which side of the house I was in he was sure to find me. The third day after his arrival he renewed his pleading, trying first to compliment me, saying: