October 21, 2020

Anne – Part 60

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We continue our serialisation of Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson

“Nothing is the same any more.”

At last Dr. Gaston found himself yawning. “The world will not stop, even if we do go to bed, my friends,” he said, rising. “We certainly ought not to talk or listen longer to- night.”

Père Michaux rose also, and linked his arm in Rast’s.  “I will walk home with you, young sir,” he said, cordially. “Miss Lois, we will take you as far as your gate.”

Miss Lois was willing, but a little uncertain in her movements; inclined toward delay. Would Anne lend her a shawl? And, when the young girl had gone up stairs after it, would Rast take the candle into the hall, lest she should stumble on her way down?

“She will not stumble,” said Père Michaux. “She never stumbled in her life, Miss Lois. Of what are you thinking?”

Miss Lois put on the shawl; and then, when they had reached the gate, “Run back, Rast,” she said; “I have left my knitting.”

“Here it is,” said the priest, promptly producing it. “I saw it on the table, and took charge of it.”

Miss Lois was very much obliged; but she was sure she heard some one calling. Perhaps it was Anne. If Rast—

“Only a night-bird,” said Père Michaux, walking on. He left Miss Lois at the church- house; and then, linking his arm again in Rast’s, accompanied him to his lodgings. “I am going to give you a parting present,” he said—”a watch, the one I am wearing now. I have another, which will do very well for this region.”

The priest’s watch was a handsome one, and Rast was still young enough to feel an immense satisfaction in such a possession.  He took it with many thanks, and frankly expressed delight.  The old priest accompanied his gift with fatherly good wishes and advice. It was now so late that he would take a bed in the house, he thought. In this way, too, he would be with Rast, and see the last of him.

But love laughs at parsons.

Père Michaux saw his charge to bed, and went to bed himself in an adjoining room. He slept soundly; but at the first peep of dawn his charge was gone—gone to meet Anne on the heights, as agreed between them the night before.

O wise Père Michaux!

The sun was not yet above the horizon, but Anne was there. The youth took her hands in his, and looked at her earnestly. He was half surprised himself at what he had done, and he looked at her again to see how it had happened.  All his life from earliest childhood she had been his dearest companion and friend; but now she was his betrothed wife, would she be in any way different? The sun came up, and showed that she was just the same—calm, clear-eyed, and sweet-voiced. What more could he ask?

Do you love me, Annet?” he said more than once, looking at her as though she ought to be some new and only half-comprehended person.

“You know I do,” she answered. Then, as he asked again, “Why do you ask me?” she said. “Has not my whole life shown it?”

“Yes,” he answered, growing calmer. “I believe you have loved me all your life, Annet.”

“I have,” replied the girl.

He kissed her gently. “I shall always be kind to you,” he said. Then, with a half-sigh, “You will like to live here?”

“It is my home, Rast. However, other places will not seem strange after I have seen the great city. For of course I must go to New York, just the same, to learn to be a teacher, and help the children: we may be separated for years.”

“Oh no; I shall be able to take care of you all before long,” said Rast, grandly. “As soon as I have been through college I shall look about and decide upon something. Would you like me to be a lawyer? Or a surgeon? Then there is always the army. Or we might have a farm.”

“There is only Frobisher’s.”

“Oh, you mean here on the island? Well, Frobisher’s would do. We could repair the old house, and have a pony-cart, and drive in to town.” Here the steamer sounded its first whistle. That meant that it would start in half an hour. Rast left the future and his plans in mid-air, and took Anne in his arms with real emotion. “Good-by, dear, good- by,” he said. “Do not grieve, or allow yourself to be lonely. I shall see you soon in some way, even if I have to go to New York for the purpose.  Remember that you are my betrothed wife now. That thought will comfort you.”

“Yes,” said Anne, her sincere eyes meeting his.  Then she clung to him for a few moments, sobbing. “You must go away, and I must go away,” she said, amid her tears: “nothing is the same any more. Father is dead, and the whole world will be between us. Nothing is the same any more. Nothing is the same.”

 

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