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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about Keziah Coffin.

“Thank you for coming, Aunt Keziah,” she said.  “I was sure you would.”

“Least I could do, deary,” was the older woman’s answer.  “Your uncle and I was good friends once; we haven’t seen each other so often of late years, but that ain’t changed my feelin’s.  Now you must go home and rest.  Don’t let any of these”—­with a rather scornful glance at Josiah Badger and Ezekiel and the Reverend Absalom—­“these Job’s comforters bother you.  Nat, you see that they let her alone, won’t you?”

Captain Nat nodded.  He, too, looked very grave and worn.  “I’ll tend to them,” he said shortly.  “Come, Grace,” he added; “let’s go.”

But the girl hung back.  “Just a minute, Nat,” she said.  “I—­I—­would you mind if I spoke to Aunt Keziah—­alone?  I only want to say a word.”

Nat strode off to the cemetery gate, where Josiah Badger stood, brandishing a red cotton handkerchief as a not too-clean emblem of mourning.  Mr. Badger eagerly sprang forward, but ran into an impossible barrier in the form of the captain’s outstretched arm.  Josiah protested and the captain replied.  Grace leaned forward.

“Auntie,” she whispered, “tell me:  Did a letter—­Did he—­”

“Yes, it came.  I gave it to him.”

“Did—­did he tell you?  Do you know?”

“Yes, I know, deary.”

“Did he—­is he—­”

“He’s well, deary.  He’ll be all right.  I’ll look out for him.”

“You will, won’t you?  You won’t let him do anything—­”

“Not a thing.  Don’t worry.  We’ve had a long talk and he’s going to stay right here and go on with his work.  And nobody else’ll ever know, Gracie.”

“How—­O Aunt Keziah! how he must despise me.”

“Despise you!  For doin’ what was your duty?  Nonsense!  He’ll respect you for it and come to understand ’twas best for both of you, by and by.  Don’t worry about him, Gracie.  I tell you I’ll look out for him.”

“I guess it will be better if he does despise me.  And hate me, too.  He can’t despise and hate me more than I do myself.  But it is right—­what I’m doing; and the other was wrong and wicked.  Auntie, you’ll come and see me, won’t you?  I shall be so lonesome.”

“Yes, yes; I’ll come.  Perhaps not right away.  There’s reasons why I’d better not come right away.  But, by and by, after it’s all settled and you and Nat”—­she hesitated for an instant in spite of herself—­“after you and Nat are married I’ll come.”

“Don’t talk about that now.  Please don’t.”

“All right, I won’t.  You be a good, brave girl and look out for Nat; that’s your duty and I’m sure you’ll do it.  And I’ll do my best for John.”

“Do you call him John?”

“Yup.  We had a sort of—­of adoptin’ ceremony the other mornin’ and I—­Well, you see, I’ve got to have somebody to call by their front name and he’s about all I’ve got left.”

“O Aunt Keziah! if I could be one half as patient and brave and sweet as you are—­”

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