Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 3, page 2 of 9)

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Chapter 3

"But I did not give her Daisy's ring," he said; and he spoke very
reverently as he continued, "Abigail was a good, sensible girl, and even
if she hears what I am saying she will pardon me when I tell you that it
did not seem to me that diamonds were befitting such as she; Daisy, I am
sure, had a different kind of person in view when she made me keep the
ring for the maiden who would prize such things, and who was worthy of
it. Abigail was worthy, but there was not a fitness in giving it to her,
neither would she have prized it; so I kept it in its little box with a
curl of Daisy's hair. Had she become my wife, I might eventually have
given it to her, but she died, and it was well. She would not have
satisfied me now, and I should--"

He was going to add "should not have been what I am," but that would
have savored too much of pride, and possibly of disrespect for the dead;
so he checked himself, and while his rare, pleasant smile broke all over
his beaming face, and his hazel eyes grew soft and tender in their
expression, he said: "You, Ethelyn, seem to me the one Daisy would have
chosen for a sister. You are quiet, and gentle, and pure like her, and I
am so glad of the Providence which led me to Chicopee. They said I was
looking for a wife, but I had no such idea. I never thought to marry
until I met you that afternoon when you wore the pretty delaine, with
the red ribbon in your hair. Do you remember it, Ethelyn?"

Ethelyn did not answer him at once. She was looking far off upon the
water, where the moonlight lay sleeping, and revolving in her mind the
expediency of being equally truthful with her future husband, and saying
to him, "I, too, have loved, and been promised to another." She knew
she ought to tell him this and she would, perhaps, have done so, for
Ethie meant to be honest, and her heart was touched and softened by
Richard's tender love for his sister; but when he was so unfortunate as
to call the green silk which Madame--, in Boston, had made, a pretty
delaine, and her scarlet velvet band a "red ribbon," her heart hardened,
and her secret remained untold, while her proud lip half curled in scorn
at the thought of Abigail Jones, who once stood, perhaps, as she was
standing, with her hand on Richard Markham's and the kiss of betrothal
wet upon her forehead. Ah, Ethie, there was this difference: Abigail had
kissed her lover back, and her great black eyes had looked straight into
his with an eager, blissful joy, as she promised to be his wife, and
when he wound his arm around her, she had leaned up to the bashful
youth, encouraging his caresses, while you--gave back no answering
caress, and shook lightly off the arm laid across your neck. Possibly
Richard thought of the difference, but if he did he imputed Ethelyn's
cold impassiveness to her modest, retiring nature, so different from
Abigail's. It was hardly fair to compare the two girls, they were so
wholly unlike, for Abigail had been a plain, simple-hearted, buxom
country girl of the West, whose world was all contained within the
limits of the neighborhood where she lived, while Ethie was a
high-spirited, petted, impulsive creature, knowing but little of such
people as Abigail Jones, and wholly unfitted to cope with any world
outside that to which she had been accustomed. But love is blind, and so
was Richard; for with his whole heart he did love Ethelyn Grant; and,
notwithstanding his habits of thirty years, she could then have molded
him to her will, had she tried, by the simple process of love. But,
alas! there was no answering throb in her heart when she felt the touch
of his hand or his breath upon her cheek. She was only conscious of a
desire to avoid his caress, if possible, while, as the days went by, she
felt a growing disgust for "Abigail Jones," whose family, she gathered
from her lover, lived near to, and were quite familiar with, his mother.

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