The City of Fire (Chapter 2, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 2

Over in Sabbath Valley quiet sweetness brooded, broken now and again by
the bell-like sound of childish laughter here and there. The birds were
holding high carnival in the trees, and the bees humming drowsy little
tunes to pretend they were not working.

Most of the men were away at work, some in Monopoly or Economy, whither
they went in the early morning in their tin Lizzies to a little store
or a country bank, or a dusty law office; some in the fields of the
fertile valley; and others off behind the thick willow fringe where
lurked the home industries of tanning and canning and knitting, with a
plush mill higher up the slope behind a group of alders and beeches,
its ugly stone chimneys picturesque against the mountain, but doing its
best to spoil the little stream at its feet with all colors of the
rainbow, at intervals dyeing its bright waters.

The minister sat in his study with his window open across the lawn
between the parsonage and the church, a lovely velvet view with the old
graveyard beyond and the wooded hill behind. He was faintly aware of
the shouting of the birds in glad carnival in the trees, and the busy
droning of the bees, as he wrote an article on Modern Atheism for a
magazine in the distant world; but more keenly alive to the song on the
lips of his child, but lately returned from college life in one of the
great universities for women. He smiled as he wrote, and a light came
in his deep thoughtful eyes. She had gone and come, and she was still
unspoiled, mentally, physically, or spiritually. That was a great deal
to have kept out of life in these days of unbelief. He had been almost
afraid to hope that she would come back the same.

In the cool sitting-room his wife was moving about, putting the house
in order for the day, and he knew that on her lips also was the smile
of the same content as well as if he were looking at her beloved face.

On the front veranda Marilyn Severn swept the rugs and sang her happy
song. She was glad, glad to be home again, and her soul bubbled over
with the joy of it. There was happiness in the curve of her red lips,
in the softly rounded freshness of her cheek and brow, in the eyes that
held dancing lights like stars, and in every gleaming tendril of her
wonderful bright hair that burst forth from under the naive little
sweeping cap that sat on her head like a crown. She was small, lithe,
graceful, and she vibrated joy, health, eagerness in every glance of
her eye, every motion of her lovely hands.

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