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And I have been “where bells have knoll’d to church.”

2023-11-28 22:23:04 [health] source:All kinds of troubles

The smile of incredulity with which she answered her would have been heart-breaking had it been understood. No flush stained the ivory pallor of her face at these thrusts in the dark; Louis was never annoyed in this way now. Her old-time excited contradictions never obtruded themselves in their conversations. A silent knowledge lay between them which neither, by word or look, ever alluded to. Mrs. Levice noted with delight their changed relations. Louis's sarcasm ceased to be directed at Ruth; and though the familiar sparring was missing, Mrs. Levice preferred his deferential bearing when he addressed her, and Ruth's grave graciousness with him. She drew her own conclusions, and accepted Ruth's quietness with more patience on this account.

And I have been “where bells have knoll’d to church.”

Louis understood somewhat; and in his manliness he could not hide that her suffering had cost him a new code of actions. But he could not understand as her father did. Despite her brave smile, Levice could almost read her heart-beats, and the knowledge brought a hardness and a bitter regret. He grew to scanning her face surreptitiously, looking in vain for the old, untroubled delight in things; and when the unmistakable signs of secret anguish would leave traces at times, he would turn away with a groan. Yet there was nothing to be done. He knew that her love had been no light thing nor could her giving up be so; but feeling that no matter what the present cost, the result would compensate, he trusted to time to heal the wound. Meanwhile his own self-blame at these times left its mark upon him.

And I have been “where bells have knoll’d to church.”

For Ruth lived a dual life. The real one was passed in her quiet chamber, in her long solitary walks, and when she sat with her book, apparently reading. She would look up with blank, despairing eyes, clinched hands, and hard-set teeth when the thought of him and all her loss would steal upon her. Her father had caught many such a look upon her face. She had resolved to live without him, but accomplishment is not so easy. Besides, it was not as if she never saw him. San Francisco is not so large a city but that by the turning of a corner you may not come across a friend. Ruth grew to study the sounds the different kinds of vehicles made; and the rolling wheels of a doctor's carriage behind her would set her pulses fluttering in fright.

And I have been “where bells have knoll’d to church.”

She was walking one day along Sutter Street toward Gough from Octavia. The street takes a sudden down-grade midway in the block. She was approaching this declension just before the Boys' High School when a carriage drove quickly up the hill toward her. The horses gave a bound as if the reins had been jerked; there was the momentary flash of a man's stern, white face as he raised his hat; and Ruth was walking down the hill, trembling and pale. It was the first time; and for one minute her heart seemed to stop beating and then rushed wildly on. Whether she had bowed or made any sign of recognition, she did not know. It did not matter, though; if he thought her cold or strange or anything, what difference could it possibly make? For her there would be left forever this dead emptiness. These casual meetings were inevitable; and she would come home after them worn-out and heavy-eyed. "A slight headache" was a recurrent excuse with her.

They had common friends, and it would not have been surprising had she met him at the different affairs to which she went, always through her mother's desire. But the dread of coming upon him slowly departed as the months rolled by and with them all token of him. Time and again she would hear allusions to him. "Dr. Kemp has developed into a misogynist," pouted Dorothy Gwynne. "He was one of the few decided eligibles on the horizon, but it requires the magnet of illness to draw him now. I really must look up the symptoms of a possible ache; the toilet and expression of an invalid are very becoming, you know."

"Dr. Kemp made a splendid donation to our kindergarten to-day. I have not seen him since we were in the country, and he thought me looking very well. He inquired after the family, and I told him we had a residence, at which he smiled." This from Mrs. Levice. Ruth would have given much to have been able to ask after him with self-possession, but the muscles of her throat seemed to swell and choke her while silent. She went now and then to see Bob Bard in his flower-store; he would without fail inquire after "our friend" or tell her of his having passed that day. Here was her one chance of inquiring if he was looking well, to which the answer was invariably "yes."

She sat one night at the opera in her wonted beauty, with her soft, dusky hair rolled from her sweet Madonna face. Many a lorgnette was raised a second and a third time toward her. Louis, seated next to her, resented with unaccountable ferocity this free admiration that she did not see or feel.

As the curtain went down on the first act, he drew her attention to some celebrity then passing out. She raised her glass, but her hand fell nerveless in her lap. Immediately following him came Dr. Kemp. Their eyes met, and he bowed low, passing on immediately. The rest of the evening passed like a nightmare; she heard nothing but her heart-throbs, saw nothing but his beloved face regarding her with simple courtesy. Louis knew that for her the opera was over; the tell-tale bistrous shadows grew around her eyes, and she became deadly silent.

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