HER OWN AGAIN
by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Dallas Bain watched with straining gaze that scene within Mrs. Fleming’s brilliant drawing-room, and his heart was wrung with a pain more bitter than death.
The vague belief and hope that had brought him back to Gull Beach were dashed to earth now, and despair reigned in its stead.
She had not loved him, after all; she had but played on his credulity to gratify a coquette’s vanity. The proof was here before him as she stood there all in bridal white, speaking the solemn words that bound her for aye to another.
“Fool that I was to return,” he muttered, in fierce self-scorn; and just then he caught a flutter of drapery near him, and a shrill voice giggled:
“La, me! if this ain’t Mr. Bain come back again! Howdydo, sir? Looking at the play, are you? But it does seem awful real like, don’t it? They got their parts well, certain! He’s even putting the ring on her hand, and now the women are kissing the bride. Ha! ha!”
Dallas grasped Letty Green’s arms so convulsively that she winced with the pain.
“Ouch! don’t pinch so! What have I done?”
He muttered fiercely, like one beside himself.
“What does this mean? Is it a play, as you said, or a horrible reality?”
Letty giggled, shook her flounces, and twittered:
“Oh, it’s a play, sir, of course, and they’ve been practicing on it for a week. Though, for certain, them two principals are engaged; but I don’t think the wedding day is set. ’Tis whispered they have quarreled, and Miss Bell won’t wear his ring; but my mistress says ’tisn’t true at all. But, la, sir, what are you doing out here peeking through the window like us servants? Why don’t you go into the drawing-room along with the quality?”
“I don’t care to go in yet, Letty. I just came unexpectedly, and I want to look on for a while unseen,” returned Dallas, with a long sigh of relief as he glued his face to the window and watched the scene within, singling out the beautiful form of Daisie with renewed hope and love.
He murmured exultantly:
“So they have quarreled? About me, of course.[Pg 97] She is true, after all, my own sweet love! Ah! what a weight of woe is lifted from my breast! Oh, I must manage to see her presently, and beg her to forgive me for my rash flight, jealous fool that I was! As for Royall, I am not sorry for him, since he acted in a mean, underhand way to gain her love. Well, he had his day, and failed; now comes mine.”
Meanwhile, Letty was watching him with some compunction, owing to a guilty conscience.
Her first womanly pity for Annette had prompted her to mail to Dallas the letter she had stolen from the young girl’s pocket, but on trying to get the address from Mrs. Fleming, the latter’s suspicions had been aroused, and she had persecuted Letty till she found out everything. This done, she exchanged a gold piece with the covetous maid for poor Daisie’s love letter.
“However,” thought Letty, “there’s no harm done, for I can tell him all about his pretty sweetheart, and maybe his cruel heart will turn back to her again.”
So, getting close to his ear, Letty poured out in moving terms the story of Annette’s accident, though she did not tell him the fate of the letter.
When she had ended, he sighed, and answered:
“Poor girl! I’m sorry for her; but there’s some mistake, surely, Letty, for little Annette was never my sweetheart—never! I never loved any girl in my life but Daisie Bell, and I want you to slip in there and get her to come out here and see me. Won’t you?”
Two big silver dollars pressed into her hand clinched the argument, and Letty tripped blithely away on her errand, leaving Dallas waiting with wild impatience for the coming of his little love.
And presently she came with a look of wonder on her fair face, for the maid had simply whispered to her that some one wanted to see her on the balcony, and she must just slip out without any fuss.
Daisie thought it might be a messenger from Aunt Alice about something, so she stole away, pretending she wished to lay aside the bridal veil.
In the hall she gave it to Letty to carry upstairs, and then glided out to the balcony, all unconscious of the joy that awaited her there.
When Dallas heard her coming he stepped back from the window into the screen of a climbing[Pg 99] vine, where there was a seat for two, and waited.
She came close to him, and the moonlight shone on her fair face and white gown and waves of golden hair. Oh, how beautiful she was in evening dress, with her neck uncovered, and her perfect arms, so white and rounded, bare to the shoulders!
She saw the dark form sitting in the shadow so silently, and as the hem of her white gown brushed against his knee, she faltered:
“Who wants me?”
Dallas half rose, holding out impassioned arms, whispering:
“I want you, Daisie, darling! I want you to forgive my folly and madness! I want you to be my little love still, as you promised that day before I left you! I want——”
But then his arms closed around her yielding form, and his last words were smothered in the kiss he pressed on the top of her shining head.
Ah! what joy for little Daisie, what sudden rapture!
Dallas Bain drew her down to the seat beside[Pg 100] him, and in the shadow of the rose vines he kissed her lips, and she kissed him back again, dear little Daisie, forgiving everything in a moment, forgetting all the past, thinking of nothing else on earth but that he was her own again.
The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Author: Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Native Language: English