As his mind grew clearer, his keen observation began to reveal hopeful indications. She was listening intently with approval, and something more in her expression, he dared to fancy. Suddenly he exclaimed, “How changed you are for the better, Clara! You are lovelier to-night than ever you were. What is it in your face that is so sweet and bewildering? You were a pretty girl before; now you are a beautiful woman.”
The color came swiftly at his words, and she faltered as she averted her eyes, “Please go on with your story, Ralph. You have scarcely begun yet. I fear you were in danger.”
He came and stood beside her. “Clara,” he pleaded, “look at me.”
Hesitatingly she raised her eyes to his.
“Shall I tell you what I hope I see?”
The faintest suggestion of a smile hovered about her trembling lips.
“I hope I see what you surely see in mine. Come, Clara, you shall choose before you hear my story. Am I to be your husband or friend? for I’ve vowed that you shall not be without a loyal protector.”
“Ralph, Ralph,” she cried, springing up and hiding her face on his shoulder, “I have no choice at all. You know how I loved papa; but I’ve learned that there’s another and different kind of love. I didn’t half understand you when you first spoke; now I do. You will always see in my eyes what you’ve seen to-night.”
LOVE IN THE WILDERNESS
Hopeless indeed must that region be which May cannot clothe with some degree of beauty and embroider with flowers. On the 5th day of the month the early dawn revealed much that would charm the eyes of all true lovers of nature even in that section of Virginia whose characteristics so grimly correspond with its name—The Wilderness. The low pines and cedars, which abound everywhere, had taken a fresh green; the deciduous trees, the tangled thickets, impenetrable in many places by horse or man, were putting forth a new, tender foliage, tinted with a delicate semblance of autumn hues. Flowers bloomed everywhere, humbly in the grass close to the soil as well as on the flaunting sprays of shrubbery and vines, filling the air with fragrance as the light touched and expanded the petals. Wood-thrushes and other birds sang as melodiously and contentedly as if they had selected some breezy upland forest for their nesting-place instead of a region which has become a synonym for gloom, horror, and death.