The Search (Chapter 3, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 3

"Yes," she tried to say and smothered the word in her handkerchief pressed quickly to her lips in an effort to control them.

Ruth laid a cool little touch on the woman's other hand that lay in her lap: "Please forgive me!" she said, "I wasn't sure. I know it must be awful,--cruel--for you!"

"He--is all I have left!" the woman breathed with a quick controlled gasp, "but, of course--it was--right that he should go!"

She set her lips more firmly and blinked off at the blur of pretty homes on her right without seeing any of them.

"He would have gone sooner, only he thought he ought not to leave me till he had to," she said with another proud little quiver in her voice, as if having once spoken she must go on and say more, "I kept telling him I would get on all right--but he always was so careful of me--ever since his father died!"

"Of course!" said Ruth tenderly turning her face away to struggle with a strange smarting sensation in her own eyes and throat. Then in a low voice she added: "I knew him, you know. I used to go to the same school with him when I was a little bit of a girl."

The woman looked up with a quick searching glance and brushed the tears away firmly.

"Why, aren't you Ruth Macdonald? Miss Macdonald, I mean--excuse me! You live in the big house on the hill, don't you?"

"Yes, I'm Ruth Macdonald. Please don't call me Miss. I'm only nineteen and I still answer to my little girl name," Ruth answered with a charming smile.

The woman's gaze softened.

"I didn't know John knew you," she said speculatively. "He never mentioned----"

"Of course not!" said the girl anticipating, "he wouldn't. It was a long time ago when I was seven and I doubt if he remembers me any more. They took me out of the public school the next year and sent me to St. Mary's for which I've never quite forgiven them, for I'm sure I should have got on much faster at the public school and I loved it. But I've not forgotten the good times I had there, and John was always good to the little girls. We all liked him. I haven't seen him much lately, but I should think he would have grown to be just what you say he is. He looks that way."

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