The Bell-Ringer of Angel's and Other Stories
"Perhaps he might not think as much of that as you do," retorted the woman pertly.
"Every one isn't as straitlaced as you, and every girl has had one or two engagements. But
do as you like—stay at home if you want to, and sing psalms and read the Scriptures to
that younger brother of yours! All the same, I'm thinkin' he'd rather be out with the boys."
"My brother is God-fearing and conscientious," said Madison quickly. "You do not know
him. You have never seen him."
"No," said Mrs. McGee shortly. She then gave a little shiver (that was, however, half
simulated) in her wet garments, and added: "ONE saint was enough for me; I couldn't
stand the whole church, Mad."
"You are catching cold," he said quickly, his whole face brightening with a sudden
tenderness that seemed to transfigure the dark features. "I am keeping you here when you
should be changing your clothes. Go, I beg you, at once."
She stood still provokingly, with an affectation of wiping her arms and shoulders and
sopping her wet dress with clusters of moss.
"Go, please do—Safie, please!"
"Ah!"—she drew a quick, triumphant breath. "Then you'll come again to see me, Mad?"
"Yes," he said slowly, and even more gravely than before.
"But you must let me show you the way out—round under those trees—where no one can
see you come." She held out her hand.
"I'll go the way I came," he said quietly, swinging himself silently from the nearest bough
into the stream. And before she could utter a protest he was striking out as silently, hand
over hand, across the current.
A week later Madison Wayne was seated alone in his cabin. His supper table had just
been cleared by his Chinese coolie, as it was getting late, and the setting sun, which for
half an hour had been persistently making a vivid beacon of his windows for the benefit
of wayfarers along the river bank, had at last sunk behind the cottonwoods. His head was
resting on his hand; the book he had been reading when the light faded was lying open on
the table before him. In this attitude he became aware of a hesitating step on the gravel
outside his open door. He had been so absorbed that the approach of any figure along the
only highway—the river bank—had escaped his observation. Looking up, he discovered