Taken Alive eBook

Edward Payson Roe
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 425 pages of information about Taken Alive.

“Well, Helen,” he asked wonderingly.

“Imagine it possible,” she continued with the same earnest gaze, “that you were a woman who has loved as I have loved, and lost as I have.  The circumstances are all known, and you have only to recall them.  If a man had loved you as you have loved me—­”

“But, Helen, can you not believe in a love so strong that it does not ask—­”

By a gesture she checked him and repeated, “But if a man had loved you as you have loved me—­remember now, on your honor—­would you permit him to love with no better reward than the consciousness of being a solace, a help, a sort of buffer between you and the ills of life?”

“But, Helen, I am more than that:  I am your friend.”

“Indeed you are, the best a woman ever had, or I could not speak as I am doing.  Yet what I say is true.  From the first it has been your sleepless aim to stand between me and trouble.  What have I ever done for you?”

“In giving me your friendship—­”

Again she interrupted him, saying, “That virtually means giving you the chance for continued self-sacrifice.  Any man or woman in the land would give you friendship on such terms, your terms with me.  But you do not answer my question; yet you have answered it over and over again.  Were you in my place with your unselfish nature, you could not take so very much without an inevitable longing to return all in your power.”

He was deeply agitated.  Burying his face in his hands, he said hoarsely, “I must not look at you, or my duty may be too hard.  Ah, you are banishing peace and serenity now with a vengeance!  I recognize your motive—­whither your thoughts are tending.  Your conscience, your pity, your exaggerated gratitude are driving you to contemplate a self-sacrifice compared with which mine is as nothing.  Yet the possibility of what you suggest is so sweet, so—­ oh, it is like the reward of heaven for a brief life!” Then he bowed his head lower and added slowly, as if the words were forced from him, “No, Helen, you shall not reward me.  I cannot take as pay, or ‘return,’ as you express it, the reward that you are meditating.  I must not remember in after years that my efforts in your behalf piled up such a burdensome sense of obligation that there was but one escape from it.”

She came to his side, and removing his hands from his face, retained one of them as she said, gently, “Hobart, I am no longer a shy girl.  I have suffered too deeply, I have learned too thoroughly how life may be robbed of happiness, and for a time, almost of hope, not to see the folly of letting the years slip away, unproductive of half what they might yield to you and me.  I understand you; you do not understand me, probably because your ideal is too high.  You employed an illustration in the narrowest meaning.  Is heaven given only as a reward?  Is not every true gift an expression of something back of the gift, more than the gift?”

Project Gutenberg
Taken Alive from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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