Part 9 out of 9
honor forbade that he should urge his suit under such circumstances.
If she could not accept, how painful beyond words would be the necessity
of refusal, and the impression had become almost fixed in his mind
that her regard for him was only sisterly and grateful in its character.
"Yes, Miss Ludolph," he said, "my silence is the part of true
friendship--truer than you can ever know. May Heaven's richest blessings
go with you to your own land, and follow you through a long, happy
"My own land? This is my own land."
"Do you not intend to go abroad at once, and enter upon your ancestral
estates as the Baroness Ludolph?"
"Not if I can earn a livelihood in Chicago," she answered, most firmly.
"Mr. Fleet, all that nonsense has perished as utterly as this my former
home. It belongs to my old life, of which I have forever taken leave
to-night. My ancestral estate in Germany is but a petty affair, and
mortgaged beyond its real worth by my deceased uncle. All I possess,
all I value, is in this city. It was my father's ambition, and at one
time my own, to restore the ancient grandeur of the family with the
wealth acquired in this land. The plan lost its charms for me long
ago--I would not have gone if I could have helped it--and now it is
impossible. It has perished in flame and smoke. Mr. Fleet, you see
before you a simple American girl. I claim and wish to be known in no
other character. If nothing remains of my father's fortune I shall
teach either music or painting--"
"Oh, Christine!" he interrupted, "forgive me for speaking to you under
the circumstances, but indeed I cannot help it. Is there hope for me?"
She looked at him so earnestly as to remind him of her strange, steady
gaze when before he pleaded for her love near that same spot, but her
hand trembled in his like a fluttering, frightened bird. In a low,
eager tone she said, "And can you still truly love me after all the
"When have I ceased to love you?"
With a little cry of ecstasy, like the note of joy that a weary bird
might utter as it flew to its mate, she put her arm around his neck,
buried her face on his shoulder, and said, "No _hope_ for you, Dennis,
but perfect _certainty,_ for now EVERY BARRIER IS BURNED AWAY!"
What though the home before them is a deserted ruin? Love is joining
hands that shall build a fairer and better one, because filled with
that which only makes a home--love.
What though all around are only dreary ruins, where the night wind is
sighing mournfully? Love has transformed that desert place into the
paradise of God; and, if such is its power in the wastes of earthly
desolation, what will be its might amid the perfect scenes of heaven?
Our story is finished.
It only remains to say that Christine stands high at court, but it is
a grander one than any of earth. She is allied to a noble, but to one
who has received his patent from no petty sovereign of this world. She
has lost sight of the transient laurel wreath which she sought to grasp
at such cost to herself and others, in view of the "crown of glory
that fadeth not away," and to this already, as an earnest Christian,
she has added starry jewels.
Below is the Ludolph Hall in which sturdy independence led her to begin
her married life. But she is climbing the mountain at her husband's
side, and often her hands steady and help him. The ash-tree, twined
with the passion-flower, is not very far above them, and the villa,
beautiful within and without, is no vain dream of the future. But even
in happy youth their eyes of faith see in airy, golden outline their
heavenly home awaiting them.