Marcia Schuyler (Chapter 9, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 9

Marcia entered the room as if she were not quite certain of her welcome. She was coming into a kingdom she only half understood.

"Good morning," she said shyly, and a lovely color stole into her cheeks. Once more David's conscience smote him as her waking beauty intensified the impression made the night before.

"Good morning," he said gravely, studying her face as he might have studied some poor waif whom he had unknowingly run over in the night and picked up to resuscitate. "Are you rested? You were very tired last night."

"What a baby I was!" said Marcia deprecatingly, with a soft little gurgle of a laugh like a merry brook. David was amazed to find she had two dimples located about as Kate's were, only deeper, and more gentle in their expression.

"Did I sleep all the afternoon after we left the canal? And did you have hard work to get me into the house and upstairs?"

"You slept most soundly," said David, smiling in spite of his heavy heart. "It seemed a pity to waken you, so I did the next best thing and put you to bed as well as I knew how."

"It was very good of you," said Marcia, coming over to him with her hands clasped earnestly, "and I don't know how to thank you."

There was something quaint and old-fashioned in her way of speaking, and it struck David pitifully that she should be thanking her husband, the man who had pledged himself to care for her all his life. It seemed that everywhere he turned his conscience would be continually reproaching him.

It was a dainty breakfast to which they presently sat down. There was plenty of bread and fresh butter just from the hands of the best butter-maker in the county; the eggs had been laid the day before, and the bacon was browned just right. Marcia well knew how to make coffee, there was cream rich and yellow as ever came from the cows at home and there were blackberries as large and fine every bit as those Marcia picked but a few days before for the purchase of her pink sprigged chintz.

David watched her deft movements and all at once keen smiting conscience came to remind him that Marcia was defrauded of all the loving interchange of mirth that would have been if Kate had been here. Also, keener still the thought that Kate had not wanted it: that she had preferred the love of another man to his, and that these joys had not been held in dear anticipation with her as they had with him. He had been a fool. All these months of waiting for his marriage he had thought that he and Kate held feelings in common, joys and hopes and tender thoughts of one another; and, behold, he was having these feelings all to himself, fool and blind that he was! A bitter sigh came to his lips, and Marcia, eager in the excitement of getting her first breakfast upon her own responsibility, heard and forgot to smile over the completed work. She could hardly eat what she had prepared, her heart felt David's sadness so keenly.

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