EMILY FINDS PEACE.
As soon as I could control my voice I said, “I cannot tell you why I cry so bitterly. I felt so strangely when I read this terrible letter, which Matthias had picked up in the road and given to me. Instead of sorrow covering me, as would seem natural, sorrow for another, not myself, I said, ‘thank God,’ for it seemed as if I had looked at something that would lead me from darkness to light. I have been so miserable, Louis; Mr. Benton has tormented me so long, that I have been filled with despair, and I begin to believe I shall never be worth anything again; oh! I am grieving so, and yet feel such a strange joy;” and I shook as if with ague.
Louis looked as if wonder-struck, and holding both my hands in one of his, drew my head to his shoulder, and with his arm still round me, put his hand on my forehead.
“Your head is like fire, Emily; the first thing is for you to get quiet; a terrible mistake has been made, and we may give thanks for the help that has strangely come.”
I knew it would appear but did not know how. I still grieved and sighed and was trying hard to control myself.
“Emily,” said Louis, in a tone of gentle authority, “do not try to hold on to yourself so; just place more confidence in my strength and I will help your nerves to help themselves, for you see these nerves you are trying to force into quiet, are only disturbed by your will. Let the rein fall loosely, it will soon be gathered up, for when you are quiet you will be strong, and the harder you pull the more troubled you will be. You must lean on me, Emily, from this day on as far as our earthly lives shall go—you are mine. It is blessed to claim you.”
I tried to do as he said, and after a little, the strength he gave crept over me like a tide that bore me up at last; my grieving nerves were still, but my face was pale, as he said again:
“Now, Emily, let me hear from your own lips, ‘I love you, Louis,’” and his dark eyes turned to meet my own, which were filled with tears that were not bitter—holy tears that welled from the fountain of my tired and grateful heart.
“I do love you, Louis—and Louis,” I cried, forgetting again, impetuously, “I thought you had forgotten. I have suffered so long and you did not know it, and I dared not tell.”
“Emily should have done it, but never mind, you say you love me, and shall it be as I desire? will you be my wife, Emily?”
I bowed my head and he continued:
“Thank you, Emily, and I do hope that listening angels hear and know it all. Their love shall sanction ours, and we will do all we can for each other, and also for those who unlike us see not the love, the comfort, and the faith they need. Now you shall be my Emily,—you are christened; this is your royal title,—my Emily through all the years.”