may inflict with Christian fortitude and resignation, and
"What is the matter, child? So weary, eh? Nothing worse than that, I hope."
"Are you quite strong this morning? Strong enough to listen to my troubles; strong enough to bear your own if God sees fit to send them?" came hesitatingly from her lips as she watched the effect of each word, in breathless anxiety.
"Troubles? There can be but one trouble for me," was his unexpected reply. "That I do not fear - will not fear in my hour of happy recovery. So long as Edith is well - Doris! Doris! You alarm me. Edith is not ill; - not ill?"
The poor child could not answer save with her sympathetic look and halting, tremulous breath; and these signs, he would not, could not read, his own words had made such an echo in his ears.
"Ill! I cannot imagine Edith ill. I always see her in my thoughts, as I saw her on that day of our first meeting; a perfect, animated woman with the joyous look of a glad, harmonious nature. Nothing has ever clouded that vision. If she were ill I would have known it. We are so truly one that - Doris, Doris, you do not speak. You know the depth of my love, the terror of my thoughts. Is Edith ill?"
The eyes gazing wildly into his, slowly left his face and raised themselves aloft, with a sublime look. Would he understand? Yes, he understood, and the cry which rang from his lips stopped for a moment the beating of more than one heart in that little cottage. "Dead!" he shrieked out, and fell back fainting in his chair, his lips still murmuring in semi-unconsciousness, "Dead! dead!"
Doris sprang to her feet, thinking of nothing but his wavering, slipping life till she saw his breath return, his eyes refill with light. Then the horror of what was yet to come - the answer which must be given to the how she saw trembling on his lips, caused her to sink again upon her knees in an unconscious appeal for strength. If that one sad revelation had been all!
But the rest must be told; his brother exacted it and so did the situation. Further waiting, further hiding of the truth would be insupportable after this. But oh, the bitterness of it! No wonder that she turned away from those frenzied, wildly-demanding eyes.
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