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No Dream To Wake From








From: The Virginian

For a long while after she had left him, he lay still, stretched in
his chair. His eyes were fixed steadily upon the open window and the
sunshine outside. There he watched the movement of the leaves upon the
green cottonwoods. What had she said to him when she went? She had said,
"Now I know how unhappy I have been." These sweet words he repeated to
himself over and over, fearing in some way that he might lose them. They
almost slipped from him at times; but with a jump of his mind he caught
them again and held them,--and then--"I'm not all strong yet," he
murmured. "I must have been very sick." And, weak from his bullet
wound and fever, he closed his eyes without knowing it. There were the
cottonwoods again, waving, waving; and he felt the cool, pleasant air
from the window. He saw the light draught stir the ashes in the great
stone fireplace. "I have been asleep," he said. "But she was cert'nly
here herself. Oh, yes. Surely. She always has to go away every day
because the doctor says--why, she was readin'!" he broke off, aloud.
"DAVID COPPERFIELD." There it was on the floor. "Aha! nailed you
anyway!" he said. "But how scared I am of myself!--You're a fool. Of
course it's so. No fever business could make yu' feel like this."

His eye dwelt awhile on the fireplace, next on the deer horns, and
next it travelled toward the shelf where her books were; but it stopped
before reaching them.

"Better say off the names before I look," said he. "I've had a heap o'
misreading visions. And--and supposin'--if this was just my sickness
fooling me some more--I'd want to die. I would die! Now we'll see. If
COPPERFIELD is on the floor" (he looked stealthily to be sure that it
was), "then she was readin' to me when everything happened, and then
there should be a hole in the book row, top, left. Top, left," he
repeated, and warily brought his glance to the place. "Proved!" he
cried. "It's all so!"

He now noticed the miniature of Grandmother Stark. "You are awful like
her," he whispered. "You're cert'nly awful like her. May I kiss you too,
ma'am?"

Then, tottering, he rose from his sick-chair. The Navajo blanket fell
from his shoulders, and gradually, experimentally, he stood upright.

Helping himself with his hand slowly along the wall of the room, and
round to the opposite wall with many a pause, he reached the picture,
and very gently touched the forehead of the ancestral dame with his
lips. "I promise to make your little girl happy," he whispered.

He almost fell in stooping to the portrait, but caught himself and stood
carefully quiet, trembling, and speaking to himself. "Where is your
strength?" he demanded. "I reckon it is joy that has unsteadied your
laigs."

The door opened. It was she, come back with his dinner.

"My Heavens!" she said; and setting the tray down, she rushed to him.
She helped him back to his chair, and covered him again. He had suffered
no hurt, but she clung to him; and presently he moved and let himself
kiss her with fuller passion.

"I will be good," he whispered.

"You must," she said. "You looked so pale!"

"You are speakin' low like me," he answered. "But we have no dream we
can wake from."

Had she surrendered on this day to her cowpuncher, her wild man? Was she
forever wholly his? Had the Virginian's fire so melted her heart that no
rift in it remained? So she would have thought if any thought had come
to her. But in his arms to-day, thought was lost in something more
divine.





Next: Word To Bennington

Previous: Grandmother Stark



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