"What?" asked Betty with a start. She flushed crimson when she saw the letter and at
first refused to take it from her brother. She was at a loss to understand his cheerful
demeanor. He had been anything but pleasant a few moments since.
"Here, take it. It is a letter from Mr. Clarke which you should have received last fall. That
last morning he gave this letter to Sam to deliver to you, and the crazy old nigger kept it.
However, it is too late to talk of that, only it does seem a great pity. I feel sorry for both
of you. Clarke never will forgive you, even if you want him to, which I am sure you do
not. I don't know exactly what is in this letter, but I know it will make you ashamed to
think you did not trust him."
With this parting reproof the Colonel walked out, leaving Betty completely bewildered.
The words "too late," "never forgive," and "a great pity" rang through her head. What did
he mean? She tore the letter open with trembling hands and holding it up to the now
fast-waning light, she read
"If you had waited only a moment longer I know you would not have been so angry with
me. The words I wanted so much to say choked me and I could not speak them. I love
you. I have loved you from the very first moment, that blessed moment when I looked
up over your pony's head to see the sweetest face the sun ever shone on. I'll be the
happiest man on earth if you will say you care a little for me and promise to be my wife.
"It was wrong to kiss you and I beg your forgiveness. Could you but see your face as I
saw it last night in the moonlight, I would not need to plead: you would know that the
impulse which swayed me was irresistible. In that kiss I gave you my hope, my love, my
life, my all. Let it plead for me.
"I expect to return from Ft. Pitt in about six or eight weeks, but I cannot wait until then for
"With hope I sign myself,
"Yours until death,
Betty read the letter through. The page blurred before her eyes; a sensation of
oppression and giddiness made her reach out helplessly with both hands. Then she
slipped forward and fell on the door. For the first time in all her young life Betty had
fainted. Col. Zane found her lying pale and quiet under the window.