“That’s one thing I like in you, Hobart. You are so perfectly willing that others should be happy.”
“Helen, I agree with your father. Your laugh was music, the sweetest I ever heard. I’m more than willing that you should be happy. Why should you not be? I have always felt that what he said was true—what he said about the right to laugh after sorrow—but it never seemed so true before. Who could wish to leave blighting sorrow after him? Who could sing in heaven if he knew that he had left tears which could not be dried on earth?”
“You couldn’t,” she replied with bowed head.
“Nor you, either; nor the brave man who died, to whom I only do justice in believing that he would only be happier could he hear your laugh. Your father’s wholesome, hearty nature should teach us to banish every morbid tendency. Let your heart grow as light as it will, my friend. Your natural impulses will not lead you astray. Good-night.”
“You feel sure of that?” she asked, giving him a hand that fluttered in his, and looking at him with a soft fire in her eyes.
“Oh, Helen, how distractingly beautiful you are! You are blooming again like your Jack-roses when the second growth pushes them into flower. There; I must go. If I had a stone in my breast instead of a heart—Good-night. I won’t be weak again.”
MORE THAN REWARD
Helen Kemble’s character was simple and direct She was one who lived vividly in the passing hour, and had a greater capacity for deep emotions than for retaining them. The reputation for constancy is sometimes won by those incapable of strong convictions. A scratch upon a rock remains in all its sharpness, while the furrow that has gone deep into the heart of a field is eventually almost hidden by a new flowering growth. The truth was fully exemplified in Helen’s case; and a willingness to marry her lifelong lover, prompted at first by a spirit of self-sacrifice, had become, under the influence of daily companionship, more than mere assent. While gratitude and the wish to see the light of a great, unexpected joy come into his eyes remained her chief motives, she had learned that she could attain a happiness herself, not hoped for once, in making him happy.
He was true to his word, after the interview described in the preceding chapter. He did not consciously reveal the unappeased hunger of his heart, but her intuition was never at fault a moment.
One Indian-summer-like morning, about the middle of October, he went over to her home and said, “Helen, what do you say to a long day’s outing? The foliage is at its brightest, the air soft as that of June. Why not store up a lot of this sunshine for winter use?”
“Yes, Helen, go,” urged her mother. “I can attend to everything.”
“A long day, did you stipulate?” said the girl in ready assent; “that means we should take a lunch. I don’t believe you ever thought of that.”