The Search (Chapter 8, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 8

Ruth sat looking into space with starry eyes and glowing cheeks after she had read the letter. It seemed to her a wonderful letter, quite the most wonderful she had ever received. Perhaps it was because it fitted so perfectly with her ideal of the writer, who from her little girlhood had always been a picture of what a hero must be. She used to dream big things about him when she was a child. He had been the best baseball player in school when he was ten, and the handsomest little rowdy in town, as well as the boldest, bravest champion of the little girls.

As she grew older and met him occasionally she had always been glad that he kept his old hero look though often appearing in rough garb. She had known they were poor. There had been some story about a loss of money and a long expensive sickness of the father's following an accident which made all the circumstances most trying, but she had never heard the details. She only knew that most of the girls in her set looked on him as a nobody and would no more have companied with him than with their father's chauffeur. After he grew older and began to go to college some of the girls began to think he was good looking, and to say it was quite commendable in him to try to get an education. Some even unearthed the fact that his had been a fine old family in former days and that there had been wealth and servants once. But the story died down as John Cameron walked his quiet way apart, keeping to his old friends, and not responding to the feeble advances of the girls. Ruth had been away at school in these days and had seldom seen him. When she had there had always been that lingering admiration for him from the old days.

She had told herself that of course he could not be worth much or people would know him. He was probably ignorant and uncultured, and a closer acquaintance would show him far from what her young ideas had pictured her hero. But somehow that day at the station, the look in his face had revealed fine feeling, and she was glad now to have her intuition concerning him verified by his letter.

And what a letter it was! Why, no young man of her acquaintance could have written with such poetic delicacy. That paragraph about the rose was beautiful, and not a bit too presuming, either, in one who had been a perfect stranger all these years. She liked his simple frankness and the easy way he went back twelve years and began just where they left off. There was none of the bold forwardness that might have been expected in one who had not moved in cultured society. There was no unpleasant assumption of familiarity which might have emphasized her fear that she had overstepped the bounds of convention in writing to him in the first place. On the contrary, her humiliation at his long delayed answer was all forgotten now. He had understood her perfectly and accepted her letter in exactly the way she had meant it without the least bit of foolishness or unpleasantness. In short, he had written the sort of a letter that the kind of man she had always thought--hoped--he was would be likely to write, and it gave her a surprisingly pleasant feeling of satisfaction. It was as if she had discovered a friend all of her own not made for her by her family, nor one to whom she fell heir because of her wealth and position; but just one she had found, out in the great world of souls.

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