The Calling of Dan Matthews by Harold Bell Wright
Chapter XXXVI. Good-Bye
"But the big house for Dr. Harry is still empty when he returns from his long drives; empty save for his dreams."
When Hope Farwell dismissed Dan that afternoon in the old Academy yard, because she feared both for her lover and for herself, she had not for a moment questioned what Dan's decision would be. With all the gladness that their love had brought, there was in her heart no hope; for she exacted of herself the same fidelity to her religious convictions that she demanded of Dan. It would be as wrong for her to accept the church as for him to reject it. So she had gone to the limit of her strength for his sake. But when she reached again the privacy of her room, her woman nature had its way. With the morning, strength returned again--strength and calmness. Quietly she went about; for, while she had left the whole burden of decision upon Dan, her heart was with her lover in his fight.
At the appointed hour she left her friends in the garden and went into the house as she had planned. She did not expect him but she had said that she would wait his coming. Her heart beat painfully as the slow minutes passed, bringing by his absence, proof that she had not misjudged him. Then she went outside and looking up saw him standing at his window; smiling, she even beckoned to him. She wished to make the victory certain, final and complete. Very quietly she returned to her room. She did not again enter the garden.
And now the young woman was conscious that she also had a part to do. For every reason she must not remain in Corinth. She explained her plans to Grace, for she could not leave the girl, and the two commenced to make their simple preparations for the journey. Feeling that her strength was not equal to the strain which another meeting with Dan would occasion, there was no one left to bid good-bye save Deborah and Denny and--Dr. Abbott.
Dr. Abbott's faithful Jim was waiting, ready for a long trip into the country, when Miss Farwell reached the physician's home. Harry himself, dressed for the drive, met her at the door.
"You were just answering a call," said the nurse. "I will not keep you, Doctor."
"Not answering a call, just making a visit," he said, "and there is no need at all for me to hurry, Miss Farwell." He led her to the library.
"I came to tell you good-bye," she said. "I could not go away without thanking you, Dr. Abbott, for all your kindness to me."
The strong hands of the physician, so firm and sure in their professional duties, trembled, as the man placed his hat and gloves on the table.
"To tell me 'good-bye,'" he repeated blankly.
"Yes," she answered, "I cannot remain longer in Corinth."
Harry's face flushed.
"Miss Farwell you do not know how sorry I am for my failure to--"
She interrupted, "Please don't Doctor. I know how you have tried," her eyes filled, "and I know all that you have done. You understand it has been for Grace--" she paused. "Grace will go with me. I am sure Dr. Miles will find her a place in the hospital."
"Yes," he said, "I understand. I will--will see you again some day, Miss Farwell."
"I shall never return to Corinth, Doctor," she answered with a shudder. "If you come to the city, though, I shall always be glad to see you." The words were as frank as from one man to another.
Harry was thinking of his friend, the minister, of the meeting in the night, and Dan's plea to be taken to the doctor's home, where he had remained until late the evening before he left for the church convention. Why was she leaving Corinth while Dan was away attending the convention? Did she know that he was gone? What did it all mean? Could it be--! He started from his chair.
"I may see you again, then? You will be glad to see me, Miss Farwell? Hope--tell me, surely you know what I would say! I would have said it long ago but you would not let me. Tell me if there is any chance for me--ever?"
She had risen to her feet and into her face there came a look of tender sadness. She did not turn away, and the man, looking into those gray eyes, knew that she spoke truly when she said, "I am sorry, Dr. Abbott, oh so sorry! No, there can never be, for you more than my regard and friendship." Her voice trembled. "I know how it hurts because for me--for us--too, there is no chance."
Then Harry Abbott understood.
She left him in the library. Outside she paused a moment to bestow a good-bye caress upon the doctor's horse and then she quickly went away.
Other helpers have now taken the place of the faithful old Mam Liz and Uncle George, for these true souls have gone to the Master of all who truly serve. But the big house for Dr. Harry is still empty when he returns from his long drives; empty save for his dreams.
Dr. Harry will never leave Corinth. When the old Doctor berates him roughly for wearing himself out for those who never express their appreciation, and from whom he can never hope to receive a fee, he laughingly retorts in kind, charging the Doctor himself with having consigned to him such unprofitable patients. He will never give up his patients; neither will he give up his dreams.
Miss Farwell's plans for the girl, whose life she had reclaimed, did not fail. Dr. Miles, when he heard her story, gladly helped Grace to a place in the school where she might fit herself for her chosen ministry; for, said the famous physician, "The best nurses in the world are those who have themselves suffered. No amount of professional skill can make up for a lack of human sympathy and love."
As Dan, home from the convention, was turning wearily in at his gate, Deborah, from the garden, called to him. By her manner as she came slowly to the fence, Dan knew the good soul was troubled.
"It's a heavy heart I have, Mr. Matthews," she said; "for she's clean gone, an' Denny an' me's that lonesome we don't know what to do."
Dan's big hand gripped the fence.
"Gone," he repeated blankly. He did not need to ask who was gone.
"Yes sir, gone--yesterday evenin' be the train, leavin' her kindest regards and best wishes to you."