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VIII BETTY'S UNBELIEF "DEAR God, let him love me," she prayed again in the cool twilight of her chamber. Before the open window she put her hands to her burning cheeks and felt the wind trickle between her quivering fingers. Her heart fluttered like a bird and her blood went in little tremours through her veins. For a single instant she seemed to feel the passage of the earth through space. "Oh, let him love me! let him love me !" she cried upon her knees. When Virginia came in she rose and turned to her with the brightness of tears on her lashes. " Do you want me to help you, dear? " she asked, gently. "Oh, I'm all dressed," answered Virginia, coming toward her. She held a lamp in her hand, and the light fell over her girlish figure in its muslin gown. "You are so late, Betty," she added, stopping before the bureau. " Were you by yourself? " "Not all the way," replied Betty, slowly. "Who was with you? Champe ? " "No, not Champe - Dan," said Betty, stooping to unfasten her boots. Virginia was pinning a red verbena in her hair, and she turned to catch a side view of her face. ., Do you know I really believe Dan likes you 190 Betty's Unbelief best," she carelessly remarked. "I asked him the other afternoon what colour hair he preferred, and he snapped out, 'red' as suddenly as that. Wasn't it funny? " For a moment Betty did not speak; then she came over and stood beside her sister. " Would you mind if he liked me better than you, dear?" she asked, doubtfully. "Would you mind the least little bit?" Virginia laughed merrily and stooped to kiss her. "I shouldn't mind if every man in the world liked you better," she answered gayly. "If they only had as much sense as I've got, they would, foolish things." " I never knew but one who did," returned Betty, " and that was the Major." "But Champe, too." "Well, perhaps, - but Champe's afraid of you. He calls you Penelope, you know, because of the , wooers.' We counted six horses at the portico yesterday, and he made a bet with me that all of them belonged to the 'wooers' - and they really did, too." "Oh, but wooing isn't winning," laughed Virginia , going toward the door. " You'd better hurry, Betty, supper's ready. I wouldn't touch my hair, if I were you, it looks just lovely." Her white skirts fluttered across the dimly lighted hall, and in a moment Betty heard her soft step on the stair. Two days later Betty told Dan good-by with smiling lips. He rode over in the early morning, when she was in the garden gathering loose rose leaves to scatter among her clothes. There had been The Battle-Ground a sharp frost the night before, and now as it melted in the slanting sun rays, Miss Lydia's summer flowers hung blighted upon their stalks. Only the gay October roses were still in their full splendour. " What an early Betty," said Dan, coming up to her as she stood in the wet grass beside one of the quaint rose squares. " You are all dewy like a flower." " Oh, I had breakfast an hour ago," she answered, giving him her moist hand to which a few petals were clinging. " Ye Gods! have I missed an hour? Why, I expected to sit waiting on the door-step until you had had your sleep out." "Don't you know if you gather rose leaves with the dew on them, their sweetness lasts twice as long?" asked Betty. " So you got up to gather ye rosebuds, after all, and not to wish me God speed?" he said despondently . "\Vell, I should have been up anyway," replied Betty, frankly. "This is the loveliest part of the day, you know. The world looks so fresh with the first frost over it - only the poor silly summer flowers take cold and die." " If you weren't a rose, you'd take cold yourself," remarked Dan, pointing, with his riding-whip, to the hem of her dimity skirt. "Don't stand in the grass like that, you make me shiver." " Oh, the sun will dry me," she laughed, stepping from the path to the bare earth of the rose bed. "Why, when you get well into the sunshine it feels like summer." She talked on merrily, and he, Betty's Unbelief...


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