“Helen,” protested the other, helplessly, “I wish you would not always refer to Mrs. Dale with that adjective; she is the best helper I have.”
“Yes, Daddy,” said Helen, with the utmost solemnity; “when I have a dreadful eagle nose like hers, perhaps I can preside over meetings too. But I can’t now.”
“I do not want you to, my love; but—”
“And if I have to cling by the weaker virtue of cleanliness just for a little while, Daddy, you must not mind. I’ll visit all your clean parishioners for you,—parishioners like Aunt Polly!”
And before Mr. Davis could make another remark, the girl had skipped into the other room to the piano; as her father went slowly out the door, the echoes of the old house were laughing with the happy melody of Purcell’s—
Nymphs and shepherds, come a-way, come
Nymphs and shepherds, come a-way, come a-way, Come,
come, come, come a-way!
“For you alone I strive to sing,
Oh, tell me how to woo!”
When Helen was left alone, she seated herself before her old music stand which had been brought down to welcome her, and proceeded to glance over and arrange the pieces she had learned and loved in her young girlhood. Most of them made her smile, and when she reflected upon how difficult she used to think them, she realized that now that it was over she was glad for the German regime. Helen had accounted herself an accomplished pianist when she went away, but she had met with new standards and learned to think humbly of herself in the great home of music. She possessed a genuine fondness for the art, however, and had devoted most of her three years to it, so that she came home rejoicing in the possession of a technic that was quite a mastership compared with any that she was likely to meet.
Helen’s thoughts did not dwell upon that very long at present, however; she found herself thinking again about Arthur, and the unexpected ending of her walk with him.
“I had no idea he felt that way toward me,” she mused, resting her chin in her hand; “what in the world am I going to do? Men are certainly most inconvenient creatures; I thought I was doing everything in the world to make him happy!”
Helen turned to the music once more, but the memory of the figure she had left sunken helplessly upon the forest seat stayed in her mind. “I do wonder if that can be why he did not wait for me,” she thought, shuddering,—“if he was too wretched to see me again; what can I do?” She got up and began walking restlessly up and down the room for a few minutes.
“Perhaps I ought to go and look for him,” she mused; “it was an hour or two ago that I left him there;” and Helen, after thinking the matter over, had half turned to leave, when she heard a step outside and saw the door open quickly. Even before she saw him she knew who it was, for only Arthur would have entered without ringing the bell. After having pictured him overcome by despair, it was rather a blow to her pride to see him, for he entered flushed, and seemingly elated.