Lanier of the Cavalry - novelonlinefree.info
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By which time, too, another wedding was announced as near at hand. Only two days did Mr. Arnold and Aunt Agnes allow Miriam in which to prepare for the homeward journey, but it is safe to say that in that brief time their views of frontier life and people had undergone marked amendment, for they had found an old expounder of their faith in the post chaplain, for one thing, and many surprising facts as to officers, men, and Indians for another. There came a bright wintry afternoon, at the f.a.g end of the year, when the station platform held a lively little a.s.sembly waiting for the east-bound express. The colonel and his wife were there, the former by no means the blood-thirsty warrior of the elder's imagination. The Stannards had come in, and the Sumters, Kate, and "Dad"
Ennis, the chaplain, and both doctors, and all these surrounded the brother and sister and held them in cheery converse, while Bob and Miriam sauntered, self-centred, away.
There was a sheltered, suns.h.i.+ny little nook down the platform, between the baggage and express sheds, with a high, board fence at the back, to keep off the north wind and human intruders. They pa.s.sed it twice in their stroll, but the third time turned in--it was so good to get out of the piercing wind--as well as out of sight.
What wonders a few days of delight will do for a girl! The pallor and la.s.situde had gone. The soft eyes were br.i.m.m.i.n.g with bliss. The rounded cheeks had regained all their bloom. The sweet, rosebud mouth seemed all smiles and warmth and witchery, and Lanier's eyes were glowing as he drew her to his heart and gazed down into the depths of those uplifted to his.
"That brute of a train has been late for a week," said he, "but to-day it comes on time. It is going to be a long, long wait for May. How does papa seem to take it now?"
"Papa is quick to make amends when he has wronged--any one, and now he _knows_."
"Well, so does Aunt Agnes, Miriam, yet _she_ doesn't approve."
"Well, Aunt Agnes, don't you know--she's different. She's a good deal like other women I know. When she's placed somebody else in a false position, she thinks that person ought to be very sorry for her, and sympathize with her, for having been deceived and misled. She thinks you ought to say how sorry _you_ are."
"How can I say I'm sorry when I'm so glad--_all_ glad?"
"Well, then, there's Cousin Watson, don't you know? He was always her pet. He was brought up by a weak mother and a doting aunt, and she knows you don't approve of him."
"Does she expect a man to approve of one who maligned him as Lowndes maligned me?"
"You should see his earlier letters about you! Why, if I'd known anything of them I would never dared to meet such a paragon."
"And yet, after all, he turned to and painted me black as an imp of Satan. What had I done but good to him? I never took or won a penny of his."
A moment of silence, then the fond eyes looked up.
"You won something he wanted and thought--_was_ his--he never had any sense. Won't you try to forgive him--for my sake--Bob?"
His arms went round and folded her closely; his face bowed down to hers.
There was a wordless moment, then the sound of a distant whistle, of nearer shouts of "T-r-a-i-n." The dark mustache, the unsinged side, was sweeping very, very near the soft curve of those parted lips.
"What ransom will you pay?" he murmured. "I've not yet felt these arms about my neck. I've kissed you, heaven be praised, but, Miriam, have you ever kissed me?"
"T-r-a-i-n! Train, train! You'll be left!" again came the shrill feminine appeals, and with them, approaching, unwelcome, unheeded footfalls. With sudden, impulsive movement she threw her arms about his neck and upraised her lips to his. One moment of silence, two seconds of bliss, then "Dad" Ennis's voice, barely a dozen yards away: "Come forth into the light, you wanderers!" There was barely time for Bob's fervent words:
"If I couldn't forgive him after _that_, I'd deserve a dozen weeks'