The City of Fire (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

Lynn Severn was restless as she sat on the porch in the cool dark
evening and heard unheeding the small village sounds that stole to her
ears. The laughter of two children playing hide and seek behind the
bushes across the way; the call of their mother summoning them to bed.
The tinkle of a piano down the street; the whine of a Victrola in
another home; the cry of a baby in pain; the murmur of talk on the
porch next door; the slamming of a door; the creak of a gate; footsteps
going down the brick pavement; the swinging to and fro of a hammock
holding happy lovers under the rose pergola at Joneses. She could
identify them all, and found her heart was listening for another sound,
a smooth running car that purred, coming down the street. But it did
not come!

By and by she slipped out and into the church, opening one window to
let in the moonlight, and unlocking the organ by the sense of feeling.
Her fingers strayed along the keys in tender wandering melodies, but
she did not pull the stop that controlled the bells. She would have
liked to play those bells and call through them to Mark across the
mountains where he might be riding, call to tell him that she was
waiting, call to ask him why he was so strangely aloof, so silent, and
pale in his dignity; what had come between them, old friends of the
years? She felt she could say with the bells what her lips could never
speak.

But the bells would cry her trouble to the villagers also, and
she could not let them hear. So she played soft melodies of
trust and hope and patience, until her father came to find her, and
linking his arm in hers walked back with her through the moonlight, not
asking anything, only seeming to understand her mood. He was that way
always. He could understand without being told. Somehow she felt it and
was comforted. He was that way with everybody. It was what made him so
beloved in his parish, which comprised the whole Valley, that and his
great sincerity and courage. But always his sense of understanding
seemed keenest with this flower-faced girl of his. He seemed to have
gone ahead of her way always to see that all was right--or wrong--and
then walked with her to be sure she did not stumble or miss her way. He
never attempted to reason her out of herself, nor to minimize her
trials, but was just there, a strong hold when she needed it. She
looked up with a smile and slipped her hand in his. She understood his
perfect sympathy, as if his own past youth were touching hers and
making her know that whatever it was she had to face she would come
through. He was like a symbol of God's strength to her. Somehow the
weight was lifted from her heart. They lingered on the piazza together
in the moonlight a few minutes, speaking quietly of the morrow and its
duties, then they went into the wide pleasant living room, and sat
down, mother and daughter near together, while the father read a
portion: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
"I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
"Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the
fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his
wings shalt thou trust."

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