“The way may be rough, and our feet not well shod for the long journey,” she said, almost with a smile on her pure face, “the sky may be sunless and moonless, and thick clouds may hide even the stars—but there are soft green meadows beyond, and glorious sunshine. If I am not to meet him here, I shall be gathered lovingly into his arms there, and God will bless the union!”
When next Mrs. Denison saw this young martyr, there was even a serener aspect in her countenance than before. She was in possession of a secret that gave a new vitality to her existence. Until now, all in regard to Hendrickson had been vague and uncertain. Their few brief but disastrous meetings had only revealed an undying interest; but as to the quality of his love, his sentiments in regard to her, and his principles of life, she knew literally nothing. Now all was made clear; and her soul grew strong within her as she looked forward into the distance.
“I will keep that letter,” she said to Mrs. Denison, in so firm a voice that her friend was surprised. “It is more really addressed to me than it is to you; and it was but fair that it should come into my possession. He is one of earth’s nobler spirits.”
“You say well, Miss Loring. He is one of earth’s nobler spirits. I know him. How he would stand the fire, I could not tell. But I had faith in him; and my faith was but a prophecy. He has come out purified. I was not at first satisfied with this last step; but on close reflection, I am inclined to the belief that he was right. I do not think either of you are strong enough yet to meet. You would be drawn together by an attraction that might obscure your higher perceptions, and lead you to break over all impediments. That, with your views, would not be well. There would be a cloud in the sky of your happiness; a spot on your marriage garments; a shadow on your consciences.”
“There would—there would!” replied Miss Loring with sudden feeling. Then, as the current grew placid again, she said:
“I can hardly make you comprehend the change which that letter has wrought in me. All the thick clouds that mantled my sky, have lifted themselves from the horizon, showing bright gleams of the far away blue; and sunrays are streaming down by a hundred rifts. Oh, this knowledge that I am so deeply, purely, faithfully loved, trammelled as I am, and forbidden to marry, fills my soul with happiness inexpressible. We shall be, when the hand of our wise and good Father leads us together, and His smile falls unclouded upon our union, more blessed a thousand fold than if, in the eagerness of natural impulses, we had let our feelings have sway.”
“If you are both strong enough, you will have the higher blessing,” was the only answer made by Mrs. Denison.