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A Strange Friendship: A Story of New Zealand

Chapter XXVI. Alan's Story

page 243

Chapter XXVI. Alan's Story.

When the flood had sufficiently subsided, I took Dolly to Fernyhurst. The child had no longer any home—it had passed away like a dream in the night, and I was determined that no other roof but mine should cover her. Her brother and sister joined her as soon as they could get past the creeks which lay between us and the town.

Dolly was, however, very ill, and scarcely sensible when they arrived. She lay for some weeks languid and prostrated with low fever; but page 244 it was not dangerous, and, in spite of all, it was to me a very happy time, for I saw her every day.

Somerset was nearly in despair at the loss of his homestead and the damage done to his property. He told me that he was in difficulties before, but that now he might consider himself a ruined man.

This notion of his I managed soon to put on one side. I had money to lend, and wished to be considered as a brother; and I persuaded him to consent to the agreement.

I had asked Dolly to marry me so often that it scarcely seemed necessary to go through the old form again. But she had never given me a decided answer; so one day when she was better I succeeded in obtaining her promise.

The next morning I ventured to put a ring on her finger; it was an engagement ring, set with page 245 diamonds. There was also a locket, with the letters “D. C.”—” Dorothea Carewe”—on it, in rubies.

She coloured a lovely rose colour when she saw them, then looked up at me, and asked in the simplest, most piquant manner,—

“Are you a rich man, Alan?”

I could not help laughing outright.

“I can't call myself exactly poor,” I said. When you are my wife, Dolly, you will only have to ask me for what you wish for; and you will be Lady Carewe into the bargain.”

She opened her brown eyes wide in her amazement.

“Why you don't mean to say?” she began, and then stopped.

“You are the dearest, most innocent little woman in the world,” I said. “You never asked page 246 me, and I never told you; but I have the honour to be known to my friends at home as ‘Sir Alan Carewe.’ It is a very small handle to one's name, but some people would prefer it to none at all.”

Dolly quietly took off her ring, laid it in my hand, and pushed my hand away.

“Good-bye,” she said. “The man I fell in love with was plain Alan Ainsleigh. I do not know him in Sir Alan Carewe.”

But I caught her with one hand, and with the other put the ring back upon her finger.

“The girl who gave me her promise,” I said, “was Dorothea Somerset—not plain at all, and though Quakers have no respect for titles, I have never heard that they were especially ready to break their word.”

* * * * * *

page 247

She kept her word, and we were married, and went home.

Somerset is doing well now. Next year we expect them to pay us a visit at Curtis Knowle. Kate will bring with her, besides Fred, a small Violet, to whom we have yet to be introduced.

The End.

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