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At the sign of the Jack o'Lantern online

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tree.

"Elaine!" cried Dick, crushing her into his arms, all the joy of youth and
love in his voice. "Elaine! My Elaine!"

"The audience," remarked Harlan, in an unnatural tone, "appears to have
gone. Only my faithful wife stands by me."

"Oh, Harlan," answered Dorothy, with a swift rush of feeling, "you'll
never know till your dying day how proud and happy I am. It's the very
beautifullest book that anybody ever wrote, and I'm so glad! Mrs.
Shakespeare could never have been half as pleased as I am! I - - ," but the
rest was lost, for Dorothy was in his arms, crying her heart out for sheer
joy.

"There, there," said Harlan, patting her shoulders awkwardly, and rubbing
his rough cheek against her tear-wet face; "it wasn't meant to make
anybody cry."

"Why can't I cry if I want to?" demanded Dorothy, resentfully, between
sobs. Harlan's voice was far from even and his own eyes were misty as he
answered: "Because you are my own darling girl and I love you, that's
why."

They sat hand in hand for a long time, looking into the embers of the
dying fire, in the depths of that wedded silence which has no need of
words. The portraits of Uncle Ebeneezer and Aunt Rebecca seemed fully in
accord, and, though mute, eloquent with understanding.

"He'd be so proud," whispered Dorothy, looking up at the stern face over
the mantel, "if he knew what you had done here in his house. He loved
books, and now, because of his kindness, you can always write them. You'll
never have to go back on the paper again."

Harlan smiled reminiscently, for the hurrying, ceaseless grind of the
newspaper office was, indeed, a thing of the past. The dim, quiet room was
his, not the battle-ground of the street. Still, as he knew, the smell of
printer's ink in his nostrils would be like the sound of a bugle to an old
cavalry horse, and even now, he would not quite trust himself to walk down
Newspaper Row.

"I love Uncle Ebeneezer and Aunt Rebecca," went on Dorothy, happily. "I
love everybody. I've love enough to-night to spare some for the whole
world."

"Dear little saint," said Harlan, softly, "I believe you have."

The clock struck ten and the fire died down. A candle flickered in its
socket, then went out. The chill Autumn mist was rising, and through it
the new moon gleamed faintly, like veiled pearl.

"I wonder," said Harlan, "where the rest of the audience is? If everybody
who reads the book is going to disappear suddenly and mysteriously, I
won't be the popular author that I pine to be."

"Hush," responded Dorothy; "I think they are coming now. I'll go and let
them in."

Only a single candle was burning in the hall, and when Dorothy opened the
door, it went out suddenly, but in that brief instant, she had seen their
glorified faces and understood it all. The library door was open, and the
dimly lighted room seemed like a haven of refuge to Elaine, radiantly
self-conscious, and blushing with sweet shame.

"Hello," said Dick, awkwardly, with a tremendous effort to appear natural,
"we've just been out to get a breath of fresh air."

It had taken them two hours, but Dorothy was too wise to say anything. She
only laughed - a happy, tender, musical little laugh. Then she impulsively
kissed them both, pushed Elaine gently into the library, and went back
into the parlour to tell Harlan.

THE END








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Online LibraryMyrtle ReedAt the sign of the Jack o'Lantern → online text (page 16 of 16)