“Perfectly,” was the answer.
“And that was over a dozen years ago! How old are you now, Arthur,—twenty-one—no, twenty-two; and I am just nineteen. To-day is my birthday, you know!”
“I had not forgotten it, Helen.”
“You came to welcome me! And so did everything else. Do you know, I don’t think I’d ever been so happy in my life as I was just now. For I thought the old trees greeted me, and the bridge, and the stream! And I’m sure that was the same bobolink! They don’t have any bobolinks in Germany, and so that one was the first I have heard in three years. You heard him, didn’t you, Arthur?”
“I did—at first,” said Arthur.
“And then you heard me, you wicked boy! You heard me come in here singing and talking to myself like a mad creature! I don’t think I ever felt so like singing before; they make hard work out of singing and everything else in Germany, you know, so I never sang out of business hours; but I believe I could sing all day now, because I’m so happy.”
“Go on,” said the other, seriously; “I could listen.”
“No; I want to talk to you just now,” said Helen. “You should have kept yourself hidden and then you’d have heard all sorts of wonderful things that you’ll never have another chance to hear. For I was just going to make a speech to the forest, and I think I should have kissed each one of the flowers. You might have put it all into a poem,—for oh, father tells me you’re going to be a great poet!”
“I’m going to try,” said Arthur, blushing.
“Just think how romantic that would be!” the girl laughed; “and I could write your memoir and tell all I knew about you. Tell me about yourself, Arthur—I don’t mean for the memoir, but because I want to know the news.”
“There isn’t any, Helen, except that I finished college last spring, as I wrote you, and I’m teaching school at Hilltown.”
“And you like it?”
“I hate it; but I have to keep alive, to try to be a poet. And that is the news about myself.”
“Except,” added Helen, “that you walked twelve miles this glorious Saturday morning to welcome me home, which was beautiful. And of course you’ll stay over Sunday, now you’re here; I can invite you myself, you know, for I’ve come home to take the reins of government. You never saw such a sight in your life as my poor father has made of our house; he’s got the parlor all full of those horrible theological works of his, just as if God had never made anything beautiful! And since I’ve been away that dreadful Mrs. Dale has gotten complete charge of the church, and she’s one of those creatures that wouldn’t allow you to burn a candle in the organ loft; and father never was of any use for quarreling about things.” (Helen’s father, the Reverend Austin Davis, was the rector of the little Episcopal church in the town of Oakdale just across the fields.) “I only arrived last night,” the girl prattled on, venting