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seven o'clock that night rather reluctantly. The doctor had said Mr. Croft could sit up with the boy unless he grew much worse, and there was no propriety in her staying longer unless there was danger."You have been very good to me," Anthony said gravely, as he shook her hand at parting--"very good."They stood together on the doorstep. A distant bell called to evening prayer-meeting; the restless murmur of the river and the whisper of the wind in the pines broke the twilight stillness. The long, quiet day together, part of it spent by the sick child's bedside, had brought the two strangers curiously near to each other."The house hasn't seemed so sweet and fresh since my mother died," he went on, as he dropped her hand, "and I haven't had so many flowers and green things in it since I lost my eyesight.""Was it long ago?""Ten years. Is that long?""Long to bear a burden.""I hope you know little of burden-bearing?""I know little else.""I might have guessed it from the alacrity with which you took up Davy's and mine. You must be very happy to have the power to make things straight and sunny and wholesome; to breathe your strength into helplessness such as mine. I thank you, and I envy you. Good- night."Lyddy turned on her heel without a word; her mind was beyond and above words. The sky seemed to have descended upon, enveloped her, caught her up into its heaven, as she rose into unaccustomed heights of feeling, like Elijah in his chariot of fire. She very happy! She with power--power to make things straight and sunny and wholesome! She able to breathe strength into helplessness, even a consecrated, God-smitten helplessness like his! She not only to be thanked, but envied!Her house seemed strange to her that night. She went to bed in the dark, dreading even the light of a candle; and before she turned down her counterpane she flung herself on her knees, and poured out her soul in a prayer that had been growing, waiting, and waited for, perhaps, for years:"O Lord, I thank Thee for health and strength and life. I never could do it before, but I thank Thee to-night for life on any terms. I thank Thee for this home; for the chance of helping another human creature, stricken like myself; for the privilege of ministering to a motherless child. Make me to long only for the beauty of holiness, and to be satisfied if I attain to it. Wash my soul pure and clean, and let that be the only mirror in which I see my face. I have tried to be useful. Forgive me if it always seemed so hard and dreary a life. Forgive me if I am too happy because for one short day I have really helped in a beautiful way, and found a friend who saw, because he was blind, the real ME underneath; the me that never was burned by the fire; the me that isn't disfigured, unless my wicked discontent has done it; the me that has lived on and on and on, starving to death for the friendship and sympathy and love that come to other women. I have spent my forty years in the wilderness, feeding on wrath and bitterness and tears. Forgive me, Lord, and give me one more vision of the blessed land of Canaan, even if I never dwell there."CHAPTER VI"Nor less the eternal poles Of tendency distribute souls. There need no vows to bind Whom not each other seek, but find." EMERSON's Celestial Love.Davy's sickness was a lingering one. Mrs. Buck came for two or three hours a day, but Lyddy was the self-installed angel of the house; and before a week had passed the boy's thin arms were around her neck, his head on her loving shoulder, and his cheek pressed against hers. Anthony could hear them talk, as he sat in the kitchen busy at his work. Musical instruments were still brought him to repair, though less frequently than of yore, and he could still make many parts of violins far better than his seeing competitors. A friend and pupil sat by his side in the winter evenings and supplemented his weakness, helping and learning alternately, while his blind master's skill filled him with wonder and despair. The years of struggle for perfection had not been wasted; and though the eye that once detected the deviation of a hair's breadth could no longer tell the true from the false, yet nature had been busy with her divine work of compensation. The one sense stricken with death, she poured floods of new life and vigour into the others. Touch became something more than the stupid, empty grasp of things we seeing mortals know, and in place of the two eyes he had lost he now had ten in every finger-tip. As for odours, let other folk be proud of smelling musk and lavender, but let him tell you by a quiver of the nostrils the various kinds of so-called scentless flowers, and let him bend his ear and interpret secrets that the universe is ever whispering to us who are pent in partial deafness because, forsooth, we see.He often paused to hear Lydia's low, soothing tones and the boy's weak treble. Anthony had said to him once, "Miss Butterfield is very beautiful, isn't she, Davy? You haven't painted me a picture of her yet. How does she look?"Davy was stricken at first with silent embarrassment. He was a truthful child, but in this he could no more have told the whole truth than he could have cut off his hand. He was knit to Lyddy by every tie of gratitude and affection. He would sit for hours with his expectant face pressed against the window-pane, and when he saw her coming down the shady road he was filled with a sense of impending comfort and joy."No," he said hesitatingly, "she isn't pretty, nunky, but she's sweet and nice and dear. Everything on her shines, it's so clean; and when she comes through the trees, with her white apron and her purple calico dress, your heart jumps, because you know she's going to make everything pleasant. Her hair has a pretty wave in it, and her hand is soft on your forehead; and it's 'most worth while being sick just to have her in the house."Meanwhile, so truly is "praise our fructifying sun," Lydia bloomed into a hundred hitherto unsuspected graces of mind and heart and speech. A sly sense of humour woke into life, and a positive talent for conversation, latent hitherto because she had never known any one who cared to drop a plummet into the crystal springs of her consciousness. When the violin was laid away, she would sit in the twilight, by Davy's sofa, his thin hand in hers, and talk with Anthony about books and flowers and music, and about the meaning of life too--its burdens and mistakes, and joys and sorrows; groping with him in the darkness to find a clue to God's purposes.Davy had long afternoons at Lyddy's house as the autumn grew into winter. He read to her while she sewed rags for a new sitting-room carpet, and they played dominoes and checkers together in the twilight before supper-time--suppers that were a feast to the boy, after Mrs. Buck's cookery. Anthony brought his violin sometimes of an evening, and Almira Berry, the next neighbour on the road to the Mills, would drop in and join the little party. Almira used to sing "Auld Robin Gray," "What Will You Do, Love," and "Robin Adair," to the great enjoyment of everybody; and she persuaded Lyddy to buy the old church melodeon, and learn to sing alto in "Oh, Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast," "Gently, Gently Sighs the Breeze," and "I Know a Bank." Nobody sighed for the gaieties and advantages of a great city when, these concerts being over, Lyddy would pass crisp seedcakes and raspberry shrub, doughnuts and cider, or hot popped corn and molasses candy."But there, she can afford to," said Aunt Hitty Tarbox; "she's pretty middlin' wealthy for Edgewood. And it's lucky she is, for she 'bout feeds that boy o' Croft's. No wonder he wants her to fill him up, after six years of the Widder Buck's victuals. Aurelia Buck can take good flour and sugar, sweet butter and fresh eggs, and in ten strokes of her hand she can make 'em into something the very hogs'll turn away from. I declare, it brings the tears to my eyes sometimes when I see her coming out of Croft's Saturday afternoons, and think of the stone crocks full of nasty messes she's left behind her for that innocent man and boy to eat up . . . Anthony goes to see Miss Butterfield consid'able often. Of course it's awstensibly to walk home with Davy, or do an errand or something, but everybody knows better. She went down to Croft's pretty nearly every day when his cousin Maria from Bridgton come to house-clean. Maria suspicioned something, I guess. Anyhow, she asked me if Miss Butterfield's two hundred a year was in gov'ment bonds. Anthony's eyesight ain't good, but I guess he could make out to cut cowpons off . . . It would be strange if them two left-overs should take an' marry each other; though, come to think of it, I don't know's 't would neither. He's blind, to be sure, and can't see her scarred face. It's a pity she ain't deef, so 't she can't hear his everlastin' fiddle. She's lucky to get any kind of a husband; she's too humbly to choose. I declare, she reminds me of a Jack-o'-lantern, though if you look at the back of her, or see her in meetin' with a thick veil on, she's about the best appearin' woman in Edgewood . . . I never seen anybody stiffen up as Anthony has. He had me make him three white shirts and three gingham ones, with collars and cuffs on all of 'em. It seems as if six shirts at one time must mean something out o' the common!"Aunt Hitty was right; it did mean something out of the common. It meant the growth of an all-engrossing, grateful, divinely tender passion between two love-starved souls. On the one hand, Lyddy, who though she had scarcely known the meaning of love in all her dreary life, yet was as full to the brim of all sweet, womanly possibilities of loving and giving as any pretty woman; on the other, the blind violin maker, who had never loved any woman but his mother, and who was in the direst need of womanly sympathy and affection.Anthony Croft, being ministered unto by Lyddy's kind hands, hearing her sweet voice and her soft footstep, saw her as God sees, knowing the best; forgiving the worst, like God, and forgetting it, still more like God, I think.And Lyddy? There is no pen worthy to write of Lyddy. Her joy lay deep in her heart like a jewel at the

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