The girls noticed, however, that he never approached Betty after service, or on any
occasion, and while it caused some wonder and gossip among them, for Betty enjoyed
the distinction of being the belle of the border, they were secretly pleased. Little hints
and knowing smiles, with which girls are so skillful, made known to Betty all of this, and,
although she was apparently indifferent, it hurt her sensitive feelings. It had the effect of
making her believe she hated the cause of it more than ever.
What would have happened had things gone on in this way, I am not prepared to say;
probably had not a meddling Fate decided to take a hand in the game, Betty would have
continued to think she hated Alfred, and I would never have had occasion to write his
story; but Fate did interfere, and, one day in the early fall, brought about an incident
which changed the whole world for the two young people.
It was the afternoon of an Indian summer day--in that most beautiful time of all the year-
-and Betty, accompanied by her dog, had wandered up the hillside into the woods. From
the hilltop the broad river could be seen winding away n the distance, and a soft, bluish,
smoky haze hung over the water. The forest seemed to be on fire. The yellow leaves of
the poplars, the brown of the white and black oaks, the red and purple of the maples,
and the green of the pines and hemlocks flamed in a glorious blaze of color. A stillness,
which was only broken now and then by the twittering of birds uttering the plaintive
notes peculiar to them in the autumn as they band together before their pilgrimage to
the far south, pervaded the forest.
Betty loved the woods, and she knew all the trees. She could tell their names by the
bark or the shape of the leaves. The giant black oak, with its smooth shiny bark and
sturdy limbs, the chestnut with its rugged, seamed sides and bristling burrs, the hickory
with its lofty height and curled shelling bark, were all well known and well loved by Betty.
Many times had she wondered at the trembling, quivering leaves of the aspen, and the
foliage of the silver-leaf as it glinted in the sun. To-day, especially, as she walked
through the woods, did their beauty appeal to her. In the little sunny patches of clearing
which were scattered here and there in the grove, great clusters of goldenrod grew
profusely. The golden heads swayed gracefully on the long stems Betty gathered a few
sprigs and added to them a bunch of warmly tinted maple leaves.
The chestnuts burrs were opening. As Betty mounted a little rocky eminence and
reached out for a limb of a chestnut tree, she lost her footing and fell. Her right foot had
twisted under her as she went down, and when a sharp pain shot through it she was
unable to repress a cry. She got up, tenderly placed the foot on the ground and tried her
weight on it, which caused acute pain. She unlaced and removed her moccasin to find
that her ankle had commenced to swell. Assured that she had sprained it, and aware of
the serious consequences of an injury of that nature, she felt greatly distressed. Another
effort to place her foot on the ground and bear her weight on it caused such severe pain
that she was compelled to give up the attempt. Sinking down by the trunk of the tree
and leaning her head against it she tried to think of a way out of her difficulty.