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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXVIII I Hope Never To See That Man

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That this would be a difficult thing to do, Doris was soon to realise. Mr. Challoner continued to pass the house twice a day and the time finally came when he ventured up the walk.

Doris was in the window and saw him coming. She slipped softly out and intercepted him before he had stepped upon the porch. She had caught up her hat as she passed through the hall, and was fitting it to her head as he looked up and saw her.

"Miss Scott?" he asked.

"Yes, Mr. Challoner."

"You know me?" he went on, one foot on the step and one still on the walk.

Before replying she closed the door behind her. Then as she noted his surprise she carefully explained:

"Mr. Brotherson, our boarder, is just recovering from typhoid. He is still weak and acutely susceptible to the least noise. I was afraid that our voices might disturb him. Do you mind walking a little way up the road? That is, if your visit was intended for me."

Her flush, the beauty which must have struck ever him, but more than all else her youth, seemed to reconcile him to this unconventional request. Bowing, he took his foot from the step, saying, as she joined him:

" Yes, you are the one I wanted to see; that is, to-day. Later, I hope to have the privilege of a conversation with Mr. Brotherson."

She gave him one quick look, trembling so that he offered her his arm with a fatherly air.

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"I see that you understand my errand here," he proceeded, with a grave smile, meant as she knew for her encouragement. "I am glad, because we can go at once to the point. Miss Scott," he continued in a voice from which he no longer strove to keep back the evidences of deep feeling, "I have the strongest interest in your patient that one man can have in another, where there is no personal acquaintanceship. You who have every reason to understand my reasons for this, will accept the statement, I hope, as frankly as it is made."

She nodded. Her eyes were full of tears, but she did not hesitate to raise them. She had the greatest desire to see the face of the man who could speak like this to-day, and yet of whose pride and sense of superiority his daughter had stood in such awe, that she had laid a seal upon the impulses of her heart, and imposed such tasks and weary waiting upon her lover. Doris forgot, in meeting his softened glance and tender, almost wistful, expression, the changes which can be made by a great grief, and only wondered why her sweet benefactress had not taken him into her confidence and thus, possibly, averted the doom which Doris felt had in some way grown out of this secrecy.

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