by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Dallas Bain was startled by the young girl’s emotion, and his own cheek paled with sorrow as he cried hoarsely:
“You are angry with me for my presumption? I was too hasty, but my love must be my excuse. Will you forgive me?”
Daisie put out the little hand he had dropped in his alarm, and as he clasped it again he felt the soft pressure of fingers twining about his own as she whispered, in a choked voice:
“You startled me, but—but—I am not angry. For how could I be, when—when——”
She stopped, tears rushing to her eyes.
What could she mean? he thought. Did she—did she care also, as he had dared to hope?
Trembling with hope, the color rushing to his brow, he bent over the agitated girl, and read hope in the trembling smile of the coral lips.
“Oh, Daisie, will you love me?” he cried impetuously, and she answered, with a broken sob:
“Oh, how could I help it, dear?”
And then he dared to kiss her, and for the space of five minutes heaven seemed to come down to earth in that rare bliss of mutual love.
Absorbed in sweet assurances of tenderness, they did not hear the crunching of carriage wheels that stopped at the gate, nor the rustle of a silken robe as a fine little lady came up the steps. But Aunt Alice saw the sight from an upper window, and hurried down to admit the pretty, airy little visitor.
“Mrs. Bell, I presume?” she twittered. “Well, I am Mrs. Fleming, cousin of Royall Sherwood, you know. I came to call on Miss Daisie, having heard she had been injured in an accident.”
And scarcely had Dallas pushed back his chair from its close proximity to the sofa when she was in the room, aflutter with laces and ribbons and flaxen crinkles.
“Why, Mr. Bain, this is a surprise! I—I did not know you were acquainted with Miss Bell,” she broke out, in dismay and alarm.
Dallas was a trifle disconcerted, but he rallied himself and answered lightly:
“I was not until yesterday, when my horse[Pg 34] knocked her off her wheel and nearly caused a fatal accident. So I came this morning to beg her forgiveness.”
Mrs. Fleming gave a grating laugh, and answered maliciously:
“Perhaps Daisie may forgive you if she is very kind-hearted, but I am sure my Cousin Royall never will.”
“Royall!” he exclaimed, in bewilderment; but she fluttered over Daisie’s sofa, cooing in her most gushing way:
“My dear girl, may I kiss you? Royall told yesterday of his engagement to you, and that he was going all the way to New York to get a splendid diamond ring for you. We shall be cousins, you and I—and, I hope, great friends. Why—why, what is the matter? The girl is fainting!”
Dallas had heard every word in surprise and horror, and suddenly he clutched the young widow’s arm in a steely grasp.
“What nonsense are you talking to Daisie?” he exclaimed. “She is nothing to Royall! She has promised to marry me!”
“Impossible, Mr. Bain, impossible; for only the[Pg 35] night before last she accepted my cousin, and he has gone now to buy the most magnificent engagement ring in New York,” cried the young widow, in defiance and amazement at his claim.
“He has lied to you! She belongs to me!” repeated Dallas hoarsely; and she answered:
“Then she is a wretched little flirt, for she surely gave her promise to Royall. Ask her—see, she is reviving—and she cannot deny it.”
He stooped down to look into the girl’s white face, his own just as pallid and startled, crying, with passionate incredulity:
“Is it true, Daisie Bell? Are you indeed so false and wicked?”
“Dallas! Oh, my love!” she sobbed, in strange affright, covering her face with her lily hands as if in shame.
“Is it true? Are you engaged to him—to us both?” he thundered wrathfully.
“Oh, Dallas, yes; but—but—hear me!” she wailed imploringly; but he threw off her hand as if it were a serpent, and rushed from the house.
The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Author: Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Native Language: English