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Work: A Story of Experience

XV. Midsummer
"NOW it is all over. I shall never have another chance like that, and must make up my
mind to be a lonely and laborious spinster all my life. Youth is going fast, and I have little
in myself to attract or win, though David did call me 'good and lovely.' Ah, well, I'll try to
deserve his praise, and not let disappointment sour or sadden me. Better to hope and wait
all my life than marry without love."
Christie often said this to herself during the hard days that followed Mr. Fletcher's
disappearance; a disappearance, by the way, which caused Mr. Power much satisfaction,
though he only betrayed it by added kindness to Christie, and in his manner an increased
respect very comforting to her.
But she missed her lover, for nothing now broke up the monotony of a useful life. She
had enjoyed that little episode; for it had lent romance to every thing while it lasted, even
the charity basket with which she went her rounds; for Mr. Fletcher often met her by
accident apparently, and carried it as if to prove the sincerity of his devotion. No
bouquets came now; no graceful little notes with books or invitations to some coveted
pleasure; no dangerously delightful evenings in the recess, where, for a time, she felt and
used the power which to a woman is so full of subtle satisfaction; no bitter-sweet hopes;
no exciting dreams of what might be with the utterance of a word; no soft uncertainty to
give a charm to every hour that passed. Nothing but daily duties, a little leisure that hung
heavy on her hands with no hope to stimulate, no lover to lighten it, and a sore, sad heart
that would clamor for its right; and even when pride silenced it ached on with the dull
pain which only time and patience have the power to heal.
But as those weeks went slowly by, she began to discover some of the miracles true love
can work. She thought she had laid it in its grave; but an angel rolled the stone away, and
the lost passion rose stronger, purer, and more beautiful than when she buried it with
bitter tears. A spirit now, fed by no hope, warmed by no tenderness, clothed in no fond
delusion; the vital soul of love which outlives the fairest, noblest form humanity can give
it, and sits among the ruins singing the immortal hymn of consolation the Great Musician
taught.
Christie felt this strange comfort resting like a baby in her lonely bosom, cherished and
blessed it; wondering while she rejoiced, and soon perceiving with the swift instinct of a
woman, that this was a lesson, hard to learn, but infinitely precious, helpful, and
sustaining when once gained. She was not happy, only patient; not hopeful, but trusting;
and when life looked dark and barren without, she went away into that inner world of
deep feeling, high thought, and earnest aspiration; which is a never-failing refuge to those
whose experience has built within them
"The nunnery of a chaste heart and quiet mind."
Some women live fast; and Christie fought her battle, won her victory, and found peace
declared during that winter: for her loyalty to love brought its own reward in time, giving
her the tranquil steadfastness which comes to those who submit and ask nothing but
fortitude.
 
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