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hurry after me to-night? Did you think you'd try to
steal me from Dan ? "

" No. To-night after service I saw Dan take Mary's
arm and the two go off alone and you join the girls. I
wanted to shout, for I knew that if you and Dan were
engaged you'd be going off with him. So I came away
as fast as I could to make a grab for you before some
other chap really could get you."

" None could, Jimmie. It's you I want."

As they neared the Burkhart home she grew serious.
" Dear," she said, " how much happiness can one human
being hold ? I thought I had all I could manage. Such
a Christmas I never dreamed of, and now you give me
more "

" Your heart is big enough for oceans of it. Sarah, I'm
thinking it can hold as much as you give to others, and
measuring by what you are giving me when you say you
love me and will marry me, you'll keep on adding more
and more."

" Jimmie ! At last the circle is complete ! I got inside
more than I ever dreamed, for I have you. Of course I
liked you and wanted to be friends but I imagined you
were about as accessible as the stars so far as I was con-
cerned. So I just dreamed about you and wished and



THE CIRCLE COMPLETE S35

longed and hoped a little and didn't I get the very thing I
wanted but didn't dare tell even myself I wanted ! "

" I'm yours, Sarah. You read me right that first day
I didn't want to be drawn into that circle, now I'd rather
die than be shut out of it! I was attracted to you then
in spite of myself. I love you because I must love you.
Unconsciously everything you said became fixed in my
memory. I could tell you all about the little Maloney
baby you held in your arms as you sat on the curb of Red
Rose Court my Madonna of the Curb. A little mother,
trying to relieve suffering even then a Madonna of the
Curb."

" Jimmie, when you talk to me like that I want to cry."

" You told me once you'd rather laugh, for it keeps
you better looking."

" Gracious, are you going to remind me of all the fool-
ish things I ever said ? "

" No," he promised, " but I have many things to say
to you."

" Well, to-morrow is a holiday, Second Christmas, and
I won't have to work. You might find time to jump
across the hedge, perhaps."

" I might ! " His voice was eloquent of the promise
of love.

She let her hand linger in his as they stood by the
Burkhart gate. " I, too, have many things to say. You
know, when I was on the mountain and things made me
happy, so happy that they hurt, things like the sunset or
birds or Miss Hughes' kindness, I used to think my
mother knew about it and was glad. I feel that way now
and I'm thinking she's so glad for me this minute that
heaven can hardly hold her ! "

He stooped then and kissed her on the forehead.



336 THE MADONNA OF THE CURB

" What a heart of gold ! " he whispered. " Good-night,
sleep sweet," he said as he opened the gate for her.

" Sleep ! I'll not sleep this night but sit up and tell
myself you love me ! And I have a wake to go to, too."

" Who's dead ? " he asked, falling into her mood.

" My fears, troubles, unhappiness all deader'n a door-
nail, and you did it ! "

" Which is, I am sure, the finest, wisest bit of work I
have ever done."

At last she had found the happy balance of woman-
hood, her feet tethered to earth, her soul winging among
the heights. At last the little child of the slums and re-
formatory had come into her own, the circle was com-
plete !



THE END



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Online LibraryAnna Balmer MyersThe madonna of the curb → online text (page 22 of 22)