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"Will you forgive me?" he said. "I hope this is not too late. But I lost the train back from Newburg and walked home. I pray that you may never know any tears but pearls, and that there may be nothing changeable about you but the opal."

"Oh, Edward!" she cried, "how beautiful! Thank you a thousand times. But I wish you had been with us all day. We have missed you so much!"

For the rest of that day simplicity and clearness and joy came back to us. Keene was at his best, a leader of friendly merriment, a master of good-fellowship, a prince of delicate chivalry. Dorothy's loveliness unfolded like a flower in the sun.

But the Indian summer of peace was brief. It was hardly a week before Keene's old moods returned, darker and stranger than ever. The girl's unconcealable bewilderment, her sense of wounded loyalty and baffled anxiety, her still look of hurt and wondering tenderness, increased from day to day. John Graham's temper seemed to change, suddenly and completely. From the best-humoured and most careless fellow in the world, he became silent, thoughtful, irritable toward everyone except Dorothy. With Keene he was curt and impatient, avoiding him as much as possible, and when they were together, evidently struggling to keep down a deep dislike and rising anger. They had had sharp words when they were alone, I was sure, but Keene's coolness seemed to grow with Graham's heat. There was no open quarrel.

One Saturday evening, Graham came to me. "You have seen what is going on here?" he said.

"Something, at least," I answered, "and I am very sorry for it. But I don't quite understand it."

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"Well, I do; and I'm going to put an end to it. I'm going to have it out with Ned Keene. He is breaking her heart."

"But are you the right one to take the matter up?"

"Who else is there to do it?"

"Her father."

"He sees nothing, comprehends nothing. 'Practical type--poetic type--misunderstandings sure to arise--come together after a while each supply the other's deficiencies.' Cursed folly! And the girl so unhappy that she can't tell anyone. It shall not go on, I say. Keene is out on the road now, taking one of his infernal walks. I'm going to meet him."

"I'm afraid it will make trouble. Let me go with you."

"The trouble is made. Come if you like. I'm going now."

The night lay heavy upon the forest. Where the road dipped through the valley we could hardly see a rod ahead of us. But higher up where the way curved around the breast of the mountain, the woods were thin on the left, and on the right a sheer precipice fell away to the gorge of the brook. In the dim starlight we saw Keene striding toward us. Graham stepped out to meet him.

"Where have you been, Ned Keene?" he cried. The cry was a challenge. Keene lifted his head and stood still. Then he laughed and took a step forward.

"Taking a long walk, Jack Graham,," he answered. "It was glorious. You should have been with me. But why this sudden question?"

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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