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Faith And Unfaith

From: Riders Of The Purple Sage

At Jane Withersteen's home the promise made to Mrs. Larkin to

care for little Fay had begun to be fulfilled. Like a gleam of

sunlight through the cottonwoods was the coming of the child to

the gloomy house of Withersteen. The big, silent halls echoed

with childish laughter. In the shady court, where Jane spent many

of the hot July days, Fay's tiny feet pattered over the stone

flags and splashed in the amber stream. She prattled incessantly.

What difference, Jane thought, a child made in her home! It had

never been a real home, she discovered. Even the tidiness and

neatness she had so observed, and upon which she had insisted to

her women, became, in the light of Fay's smile, habits that now

lost their importance. Fay littered the court with Jane's books

and papers, and other toys her fancy improvised, and many a

strange craft went floating down the little brook.

And it was owing to Fay's presence that Jane Withersteen came to

see more of Lassiter. The rider had for the most part kept to the

sage. He rode for her, but he did not seek her except on

business; and Jane had to acknowledge in pique that her overtures

had been made in vain. Fay, however, captured Lassiter the moment

he first laid eyes on her.

Jane was present at the meeting, and there was something about it

which dimmed her sight and softened her toward this foe of her

people. The rider had clanked into the court, a tired yet wary

man, always looking for the attack upon him that was inevitable

and might come from any quarter; and he had walked right upon

little Fay. The child had been beautiful even in her rags and

amid the surroundings of the hovel in the sage, but now, in a

pretty white dress, with her shining curls brushed and her face

clean and rosy, she was lovely. She left her play and looked up

at Lassiter.

If there was not an instinct for all three of them in that

meeting, an unreasoning tendency toward a closer intimacy, then

Jane Withersteen believed she had been subject to a queer fancy.

She imagined any child