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Newspaper Page Text
stxoll one beautiful afternoon. He
was lost -in sober reflection all the
protracted tramp. Then suddenly he
arrived at a conclusion.
"She seems to enjoy my company,"
he soliloquized, "and I ah! I muBt
not go on loving her if it is to only
meet with final disappointment"
Then, after further deliberate cogi
tation, he murmured:
"Yes, I will know my fate today."
Mr. Joyce proceeded straight to the
vine embowered cottage with its
pretty gardens grounds that shelter
ed the idol of his soul. A servant told
him that Miss Evans had run over to
a neighbor's, offered to go for her
and led the caller to a little summer
house where there was shade and
Mr. Joyce sat in a comfortable rus
tic chair, though decidedly uncom
fortable himself. He was trying to
formulate his first appearance in a
vital and unfamiliar line. The pros
pective proposal of marriage fairly
upset his usual serenity.
Then casually he noted writing
utensils on the little table at his side.
Rhoda had evidently brought her c'or-
.respondence to this choice retreat to
And then his eyes became fixed, de
spite his will, upon a single page of a
letter that lay outspread and helk flat
under an ink stand. He could not
help but trace the lines:
" glad to believe this Mr. Joyce is
a splendid man in your estimation,
but, oh, I cannot help but think all of
the time of my true fiance. You must
keep our engagement secret, for it is
not to be known for a year and "
Mf. Joyce arose from his seat, sud
denly realizing that he was viewing
disclosures he had no right to sur
reptitiously scan. He was white to
the lips. He staggered where he
stood. His trembling hand for a mo
ment crossed his closed eyes as if to
shut out some sudden 'scene of 'blight
to all his fondest hopes.
"Already engaged she Is writing
to a friend!" he groaned and then
quickly he made for a side hedge, got
through it, hurried to-his home and?
shut himself up. in his darkened
study. ' . J
Rhoda, advised by the servant,
came tripping towards the summer
house in a quiver of pure delight, Sh
was dismayed at the inexplicable diss
appearance of her visitor. She did
not see him all the rest of that weekjj
Sunday morning a substitute took his:
place in the pulpit i
"Have you heard the news?" inH
quired Myrtle, with her usual gossip
ing buoyancy meeting Rhoda on the
"Concerning what?" inquired
"Mr. Joyce. He is ill, they say, and
Deacon Brown says he is talking of
resigning his charge."
"Oh, surely not!" burst forth
"What! so-'far., gone as that?" de
rided her tormentor. "I hope they
send a more impressible successor."
Rhoda went home with a strange
pain at heart She never realized how
much she thpught of Arnold Joyce
until that mpment Somehow a' sug
gestion ofmystegy, of trouble for the
man she respcred and. believed in
crossed her. mind.
"He is ill, he needs friends surely
now, If ever, reasoned Rhoda and
within an hour was at the rectory. Its
door was open, no servant appeared.
She penetrated to the .corridor be
yond and glanced into the. study.
There sat Arnold Joyce at a read
ing table. He held something in his
hand, his eyes fixedly regarding it
She saw what'it was a rose, the one
she had seen him secrete.
Suddenly, sadly he crushed its brit
tle leaves to powder and murmured
"Rhoda good-bye !"
"Oh, Mr. Joyce! cried Rhoda im
pulsively, her heart full to overflow
ins, "you are ill?- You are going
"I am being punished,"- he said