Louisa May Alcott: Rose in Bloom

Chapter 19. BEHIND THE FOUNTAIN (continued)

"I don't quite know, but I am very ambitious. I want to be famous, to do something for you all, to make some sacrifice for Rose, and, if I can, to have something to give up for your sake. Let me wait and work longer I know I haven't earned my welcome yet," pleaded Phebe so earnestly that her lover knew it would be in vain to try and turn her, so wisely contented himself with half, since he could not have the whole.

"Such a proud woman! Yet I love you all the better for it, and understand your feeling. Rose made me see how it seems to you, and I don't wonder that you cannot forget the unkind things that were looked, if not said, by some of my amiable aunts. I'll try to be patient on one condition, Phebe."

"And what is that?"

"You are to let me come sometimes while I wait, and wear this lest you should forget me," he said, pulling a ring from his pocket and gently drawing a warm, bare hand out of the muff where it lay hidden.

"Yes, Archie, but not here not now!" cried Phebe, glancing about her as if suddenly aware that they were not alone.

"No one can see us here I thought of that. Give me one happy minute, after this long, long year of waiting," answered Archie, pausing just where the fountain hid them from all eyes, for there were houses only on one side.

Phebe submitted and never did a plain gold ring slip more easily to its place than the one he put on in such a hurry that cold December day. Then one hand went back into the muff red with the grasp he gave it, and the other to its old place on his arm with a confiding gesture, as if it had a right there.

"Now I feel sure of you," said Archie as they went on again, and no one the wiser for that tender transaction behind the ugly pyramid of boards. "Mac wrote me that you were much admired by your church people, and that certain wealthy bachelors evidently had designs on the retiring Miss Moore. I was horribly jealous, but now I defy every man of them."

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