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   Chapter 24 THE BLOOM OF LIFE—LOVE

A Little Girl in Old Boston By Amanda M. Douglas Characters: 15022

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


Doris flew to the study. Uncle Winthrop's eyes were bent on his book and his face partly turned aside. He had been making a brave fight. A man of a less fine strain of honor would not have answered the brave young lover as he had done. He could not have answered him thus if he had not liked Henri de la Maur so well, and loved Doris with such singleness of heart.

He heard her step and put out his hand without moving. His tone was very low.

"Is it-France?"

"France! Oh, Uncle Win! When I belong to you and Boston?"

Her arms were around his neck. His heart, his whole body, seemed to give one great throb of joy as he drew her down to his knee. There had been only one other experience in life as sweet.

"And you would have sent me away!" with a soft, broken upbraiding in which love was uppermost.

"No, child, no. God forbid, Doris, now that you are not going, I will confess-I think I should have died before the parting came. But, my little girl, I must say this in memory of two sweet years of wedded life-there is no happiness comparable to it. And to accept your youth, your golden period that never dawns but once on any human being, to gladden my declining years would be a selfish sin. I once had a dream-but it came to naught"-he drew a long breath as if the remembrance pained him. "You must be quite free, dear, to love and to marry. All these years with you have been so precious, but sometime I shall go my way, and I could not bear the thought of your being left alone!"

"I shall stay with you. I-there can never be any home like this-any love like yours--"

The hall door opened and shut slowly. That was Cary's step. She could not meet him here. She kissed Uncle Win vehemently and flashed past the young man standing there almost in the doorway with a white, strained face. The great armchair was in her way and she half stumbled over it. Then some other arms caught her and she had no strength to struggle. Did she want to?

"Doris! Doris! Was it true what you said just now-that no home could be like this, and your love for him, which has been that of a tender daughter-his love for you-is there room for another regard still? for, Doris, I love you! I want you. I have been wild and jealous since I have suspected, since I have really known or guessed your cousin's intentions. I did not suspect at first-there were Betty and Eudora-and an old regard waiting for you, but now I can think of only one thing, that has been in my mind day and night for the last fortnight, that I love you as well as the others; only it seems a small and ignoble matter to appeal to your affection for my father and the old home. But I want your love, your sweetness, your precious faith, the trust of your coming womanhood, your own sweet self. I'm not a handsome fellow like Captain Hawthorne, nor accomplished like De la Maur, but I shall love you to my life's end, Doris!"

They sat down on the step of the old staircase and he could feel the tremble in every pulse of her slim young figure. Was it the strange mystery that had come to her half an hour ago in the parlor opposite, a something that was not knowledge, but a vague consciousness that there was a person in the world who could say the words that would thrill her with delight instead of bringing sorrow and regret!

"All that is a very illogical and incoherent presentation. I must do better when I come to argue my first case," and he gave a joyous little laugh. For he knew if Doris meant to say him "Nay," she would not let her head droop on his shoulder, or yield to the clasp of his arm. And suddenly his soul was filled with infinite pity for Hawthorne, and-yes-he felt sorry for De la Maur.

"Doris-is it a little for my own sake?"

A breath of happy content swept over her like a summer wind coming from some mysterious world.

"You have been an angel of comfort to both of us. I don't know what I should have done in that unhappy time if it had not been for you. But Hawthorne's regard made it a point of honor with me. Could you have loved him, Doris? He is such a fine fellow."

He noted the little shrinking, he was holding her so close.

"Not in that way," and her reply was a soft whisper.

"Thank Heaven! But I want to hear you say-oh, my darling, I want the assurance that I shall be dear to you, that it is not all because--"

"I should stay for Uncle Win's sake. I think Miss Recompense finds a great many sources of happiness in a single life. But if I promised you, it would be because-because-I loved you."

"Then promise me," he cried enraptured. "I love you dearly, if I haven't been much of a lover. I have said to myself that I was waiting for Hawthorne's five years to end, or to do something worthy of you. And now, Doris, I know what fighting means, and I would fight to the death for you. I am afraid I shall be selfish and exigent to the last degree."

He felt the delicate revelation in the warmth of her cheek, the tremble of the soft hands, the relaxation of her whole body. And a kind of solemn exultation filled his soul. Except the youthful episode with Alice Royall, he had never sincerely cared for any woman, and he was very glad he could give Doris the first offering of a man's love as he understood it now.

And then for a long while neither spoke, except in kisses-love's own language. Every moment the mystery seemed to grow upon Doris, to unfold as well, to pass the line of girlhood, to accept the crown of a woman's life. It had been very simply sweet. Some other woman might have made a rather tragic episode of her two lovers. Doris pitied them sincerely, but they both had the deepest sympathy from Cary Adams.

"Let us go to him," Cary exclaimed presently, rising, with his arm still about her.

There were two wax candles burning in their sconces that had been made over forty years ago in Paul Revere's foundry. By the softened light Cary glanced at the flushed face, downcast eyes and dewy, tremulous lips. Half the sweet story was still untold, but there would be years and years. Oh, Heaven grant they might have them together! And at this instant he was filled with a profound sympathy for his father's loss and lonely life.

They walked slowly through the hall and paused a moment in the doorway. Winthrop Adams was leaning his head on his hand, and the lamp a little at the side threw up his thin, finely cut features, as if they had been done in marble, and he was almost as pale. The exultation went out of the soul of the young lover, and a rush of tenderness such as he had never experienced before swept through him.

"Father," he said softly, touching him on the shoulder, "father-will you give me Doris, for your claim is first? Will you accept me as her lover, sometime to be her husband, always to be your son, and your daughter?"

Winthrop Adams rose half-bewildered. Had the secret hope of his soul unfolded in blessed fruition? He looked from one to the other, then his glance rested on his son-their eyes met, and in that instant they came to know each other as they never had before, to understand, to comprehend all that was in the tie of nature. He laid one hand on his son's shoulder, the other clasped the slim virginal figure, no longer a little girl, but whose girlhood and affectionate devotion would always fill both hearts.

"Doris, my child-you are quite sure--" He could not have his son defrauded of any sweetness.

Doris raised her downcast eyes and smiled, while the pink flush was like a ro

sy gleam of sunrise. Then she laid her hand over both of the others' in a tender, caressing fashion. But she was too deeply moved for words.

Winthrop Adams kissed her fair brow, but her lover kissed her on the sweet, rosy lips.

They announced the engagement almost at once. It was done partly for De la Maur's sake, though after the first he took it quite philosophically. There were three people supremely happy over it. Miss Recompense, Madam Royall,-who declared she would have been disappointed in Providence if it had been any other way,-and Cousin Betty, who was happy as a queen in her own life, though why we should make royalty a synonym for happiness I do not know.

"You never could have left Uncle Win," wrote Betty, "and Cary could not have gone away, neither could he have brought home a strange woman. This was the only satisfactory ending. But I hope you will be awfully in love with each other and sweet-and silly and all that. I am sorry for Captain Hawthorne, for, Doris, he loved you sincerely, but your French cousin can console himself with an English rhyme:

"'If she be not fair for me,

What care I how fair she be?'"

And oddly enough a few months later he did console himself with Eudora Chapman.

Just a few years afterward there was a great time in Boston. For she had adopted a charter and become a real city, after long and earnest discussion. There was a grand celebration and no end of dinners, and young Cary Adams made one of the addresses. Mr. Winthrop Adams insisted that his life work was done, but he lived to be interested in many more improvements, and some charming grandchildren.

"But after all," Doris would declare, "splendid as it is going to be, I am glad to belong to Old Boston with her lanes and byways and rough hills and marsh lands, with their billowy grasses and wild flowers, and great gardens full of fruit trees, and the little old shops and people sitting on front stoops sewing or reading or chatting cozily. And what a pleasure it will be by and by to tell the children that I was a little girl in Old Boston."

THE END.

* * *

Other Books Published by A. L. BURT COMPANY

* * *

The "Little Girl" Series

By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

A Little Girl in Old New York

A Little Girl of Long Ago

A sequel to "A Little Girl in Old New York"

A Little Girl in Old Boston

A Little Girl in Old Philadelphia

A Little Girl in Old Washington

A Little Girl in Old New Orleans

A Little Girl in Old Detroit

A Little Girl in Old St. Louis

A Little Girl in Old Chicago

A Little Girl in Old San Francisco

A Little Girl in Old Quebec

A Little Girl in Old Baltimore

A Little Girl in Old Salem

A Little Girl in Old Pittsburg

* * *

The Camp Fire Girls Series

By HILDEGARD G. FREY.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS IN THE MAINE WOODS; or, The Winnebagos go Camping.

This lively Camp Fire group and their Guardian go back to Nature in a camp in the wilds of Maine and pile up more adventures in one summer than they have had in all their previous vacations put together.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT SCHOOL; or, The Wohelo Weavers.

How these seven live wire girls strive to infuse into their school life the spirit of Work, Health and Love and yet manage to get into more than their share of mischief, is told in this story.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT ONOWAY HOUSE; or, The Magic Garden.

Migwan is determined to go to college, and not being strong enough to work indoors earns the money by raising fruits and vegetables. The Winnebagos all turn a hand to help the cause along and the "goingson" at Onoway House that summer make the foundation shake with laughter.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING; or, Along the Road That Leads the Way.

In which the Winnebagos take a thousand mile auto trip.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS' LARKS AND PRANKS; or, The House of the Open Door.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON ELLEN'S ISLE; or, The Trail of the Seven Cedars.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON THE OPEN ROAD; or, Glorify Work.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT; or, Over the Top with the Winnebagos.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS SOLVE A MYSTERY; or, The Christmas Adventure at Carver House.

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT CAMP KEEWAYDIN; or, Down Paddles.

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The Girl Chums Series

A carefully selected series of books for girls, written by popular authors. These are charming stories for young girls, well told and full of interest. Their simplicity tenderness, healthy, interesting motives vigorous action, and character painting will please all girl readers.

BENHURST, CLUB, THE. By Howe Benning.

BERTHA'S SUMMER BOARDERS. By Linnie S. Harris

BILLOW PRAIRIE. A Story of Life in the Great West By Joy Allison.

DUXBERRY DOINGS. A New England Story. By Caroline B. Le Row.

FUSSBUDGET'S FOLKS. A Story For Young Girls. By Anna F. Burnham.

HAPPY DISCIPLINE, A. By Elizabeth Cummings.

JOLLY TEN, THE; and Their Year of Stories. By Agnes Carr Sage.

KATIE ROBERTSON. A Girl's Story of Factory Life By M. E. Winslow.

LONELY HILL. A Story For Girls. By M. L. Thornton-Wilder.

MAJORIBANKS. A Girl's Story. By Elvirton Wright.

MISS CHARITY'S HOUSE. By Howe Benning.

MISS ELLIOT'S GIRLS. A Story For Young Girls. By Mary Spring Corning.

MISS MALCOLM'S TEN. A Story For Girls. By Margaret E. Winslow.

ONE GIRL'S WAY OUT. By Howe Benning.

PEN'S VENTURE. By Elvirton Wright.

RUTH PRENTICE. A Story For Girls. By Marion Thorne.

THREE YEARS AT GLENWOOD. A Story of School Life. By M. E. Winslow.

* * *

The Girl Comrade's Series

A carefully selected series of books for girls, written by popular authors. These are charming stories for young girls, well told and full of interest. Their simplicity tenderness, healthy, interesting motives, vigorous action, and character painting will please all girl readers.

A BACHELOR MAID AND HER BROTHER. By I. T. Thurston.

ALL ABOARD. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

ALMOST A GENIUS. A Story For Girls. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

ANNICE WYNKOOP, Artist. Story of a Country Girl. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

BUBBLES. A Girl's Story. By Fannie E. Newberry.

COMRADES. By Fannie E. Newberry.

DEANE GIRLS, THE. A Home Story. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

HELEN BEATON, COLLEGE WOMAN. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

JOYCE'S INVESTMENTS. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

MELLICENT RAYMOND. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

MISS ASHTON'S NEW PUPIL. A School Girl's Story. By Mrs. S. S. Robbins.

NOT FOR PROFIT. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

ODD ONE, THE. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

SARA, A PRINCESS. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

* * *

The Blue Grass Seminary Girls Series

By CAROLYN JUDSON BURNETT

Splendid Stories of the Adventures of a Group of Charming Girls

THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS' VACATION ADVENTURES;

or, Shirley Willing to the Rescue.

THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS' CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS;

or, A Four Weeks' Tour with the Glee Club.

THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS IN THE MOUNTAINS;

or, Shirley Willing on a Mission of Peace.

THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS ON THE WATER;

or, Exciting Adventures on a Summer's Cruise Through the Panama Canal.

* * *

The Mildred Series

By MARTHA FINLEY

A Companion Series to the famous "Elsie" Books by the Same Author

MILDRED KEITH

MILDRED AT ROSELANDS

MILDRED AND ELSIE

MILDRED'S MARRIED LIFE

MILDRED AT HOME

MILDRED'S BOYS AND GIRLS

MILDRED'S NEW DAUGHTER

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