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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesReckoning - Chapter 16. The End
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Reckoning - Chapter 16. The End Post by :CalGolden Category :Long Stories Author :Robert W. Chambers Date :May 2012 Read :864

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Reckoning - Chapter 16. The End


That brief and lovely season which in our Northland for a score of days checks the white onset of the snow, and which we call the Indian summer, bloomed in November when the last red leaf had fluttered to the earth. A fairy summer, for the vast arches of the skies burned sapphire and amethyst, and hill and woodland, innocent of verdure, were clothed in tints of faintest rose and cloudy violet; and all the world put on a magic livery, nor was there leaf nor stem nor swale nor tuft of moss too poor to wear some royal hint of gold, deep-veined or crusted lavishly, where the crested oaks spread, burnished by the sun.

Snowbird and goldfinch were with us--the latter veiling his splendid tints in modest russet; and now, from the north, came to us silent flocks of birds, all gray and rose, outriders of winter's crystal cortege, still halting somewhere far in the silvery north, where the white owls sit in the firs, and the world lies robed in ermine.

All through that mellow Indian summer my betrothed grew strong, and her hurts had nearly healed. And I, writing my letters by the open window in the drawing-room, had been promised that she might make her first essay to leave her chamber that day--sit in the outer sunshine perhaps, perhaps stand upright and take a step or two. And, at this first tryst in the sunshine, she was to set our wedding day.

From my open window I could see the city on its three hills against the azure magnificence of the sky, and the calm, wide river, still as a golden pond, and the white sails of sloops, becalmed on glassy surfaces reflecting the blue woods.

A little stream ran foaming down to the river, passing the house through a lawn all starred with late-grown dandelions; and even yet the trout were running up to the still sands of their breeding-nooks above--great brilliant fish, spotted with flecks that glowed like living sparks; and now I looked to see if I might spy them pass, shooting the falls, gay in their bridal-dress of iridescent gems, wishing them good speed to their shadowy woodland tryst.

Too deeply happy, too content to more than trifle with the letters I must pen, I idled there, head on hand, listening for her I loved, watching the fair world in the sunshine there. Sometimes, smiling, I unfolded for the hundredth time and read again the generous letter from Sir Peter and Lady Coleville--so kindly, so cordial, so honorable, all patched with shreds of gossip of friend and foe, and how New York lay stunned at the news of Yorktown. Never a word of the part that I had played so long beneath their roof--only one grave, unselfish line, saying that they had heard me praised for my bearing at Johnstown battle, and that they had always known that I could conduct in no wise unworthy of a soldier.

Too, they promised, if a flag was to be had, to come to Albany for our wedding, saying we were wild and wilful, and needed chiding, promising to read us lessons merited.

And there was a ponderous letter from Sir Frederick Haldimand in answer to one I wrote telling him all--a strange melange of rage at Butler's perfidy and insolence, and utter disgust with me; though he said, frankly enough, that he would rather see his kinswoman wedded to twenty rebels than to one Butler. With which he slammed his pen to an ungracious finish, ending with a complaint to heaven that the world had used him so shabbily at such a time as this.

Which sobered Elsin when I read it, she being the tenderest of heart; but I made her laugh ere the quick tears dried in her eyes, and she had written him the loveliest of letters in reply, which was already on its journey northward.

Writing to my father and mother of the happy news, I had not as yet received their approbation, yet knew it would come, though Elsin was a little anxious when I spoke so confidently.

Yet one more happiness was in store for me ere the greatest happiness of all arrived; for that morning, from Virginia, a little packet came to Elsin; and opening it together, we found a miniature of his Excellency, set in a golden oval, on which we read, inscribed: "With great esteem," and signed, "Geo. Washington."

So, was it wonderful that I, sitting there, should listen, smiling, for some sound above to warn me of her coming?

Never had sunshine on the gilded meadows lain so softly, never so pure and soft the aromatic air. And far afield I saw two figures moving, close together, often pausing to look upon the beauty of the sky and hills, then straying on like those who have found what they had sought for long ago--Jack Mount and Lyn Montour.

And, as I leaned there in the casement, following them with smiling eyes, a faint sound behind me made me turn, start to my feet with a cry.

All alone she stood there, pale and lovely, blue eyes fixed on mine; and, at my cry, she took a little step, and then another, flushing with shy pride.

"Carus! Sweetheart! Do you see?"

And at first she protested prettily as I caught her in my arms, lifting her in fear lest her knees give way, then smiled assent.

"Bear me, if you will," she breathed, her white arms tightening about my neck; "carry me with all the burdens you have borne so long, my strong, tall lover!--lest I dash my foot against a stone, and fall at your feet to worship and adore! Here am I at last! Ah, what am I to say to you? The day? Truly, do you desire to wed me still? Then listen; bend your head, adored of men, and I will whisper to you what my heart and soul desire."

Robert W. Chambers's Novel: Reckoning

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