That was just it

“For God above
Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
And creates the love to reward the love:
I claim you still for my own love’s sake!”

BROWNING.

Ruby comes into the drawing-room one afternoon to find the facsimile of
the photograph in Jack’s pocket-book sitting with Mrs. Kirke there.

“This is our little Australian, May,” the elder lady says, stretching
out her hand to Ruby. “Ruby, darling, this is Miss Leslie. Perhaps Jack
may have told you about her.”

“How do you do, dear?” Miss May Leslie asks. She has a sweet, clear
voice, and just now does not look half so dreamy as in her photograph,
Ruby thinks. Her dark green frock and black velvet hat with ostrich
tips set off her fair hair and delicately tinted face to perfection,
and her blue eyes are shining as she holds out her hand to the little
girl.

“I’ve seen your photograph,” Ruby announces, looking up into the sweet
face above her. “It fell out of Jack’s pocket-book one day. He has it
there with Wat’s. I’m going to give him mine to carry there too; for
Jack says he only keeps the people he likes best in it.”

Miss Leslie grows suddenly, and to Ruby it seems unaccountably, as red
as her own red frock. But for all that the little girl cannot help
thinking that she does not look altogether ill-pleased. Mrs. Kirke
smiles in rather an embarrassed way.

“Have you been long in Scotland, Ruby?” the young lady questions, as
though desirous of changing the subject.

“We came about the beginning of December,” Ruby returns. And then she
too puts rather an irrelevant question: “Are you May?”

“Well, yes, I suppose I am May,” Miss Leslie answers, laughing in spite
of herself. “But how did you know my name, Ruby?”

“Jack told her, I suppose. Was that it, Ruby?” says Jack’s mother. “And
this is a child, May, who, when she is told a thing, never forgets it.
Isn’t that so, little girlie?”

“No, but Jack didn’t tell me,” Ruby answers, lifting wide eyes to her
hostess. “I just guessed that you must be May whenever I came in, and
then I heard auntie call you it.” For at Mrs. Kirke’s own request,
the little girl has conferred upon her this familiar title. “I’ve got
a dolly called after you,” goes on the child with sweet candour. “May
Kirke’s her name, and Jack says it’s the prettiest name he ever heard,
‘May Kirke,’ I mean. For you see the dolly came from Jack, and when I
could only call her half after him, I called her the other half after
you.”

“But, my dear little girl, how did you know my name?” May asks in some
amazement. Her eyes are sparkling as she puts the question. No one
could accuse May Leslie of being dreamy now.

“It was on the card,” Ruby announces, triumphantly. Well is it for Jack
that he is not at hand to hear all these disclosures. “Jack left it
behind him at Glengarry when he stayed a night with us, and your name
was on it. Then I knew some other little girl must have given it to
Jack. I didn’t know then that she would be big and grown-up like you.”

“Ruby! Ruby! I am afraid that you are a sad little tell-tale,” Mrs.
Kirke says. It is rather a sore point with her that this pink-and-white
girl should have slighted her only son so far as to refuse his hand
and heart. Poor Jack, he had had more sorrows to bear than Walter’s
death when he left the land of his birth at that sad time. In the fond
mother’s eyes May is not half good enough for her darling son; but
May’s offence is none the more to be condoned on that account.

“I must really be going, Mrs. Kirke,” the young lady says, rising. She
cannot bear that any more of Ruby’s revelations, however welcome to
her own ears, shall be made in the presence of Jack’s mother. “I have
inflicted quite a visitation upon you as it is. You will come and see
me, darling, won’t you?” this to Ruby. “Ask Mrs. Kirke if she will be
so kind as to bring you some day.”

“And I’ll bring May Kirke too,” Ruby cries. It may have been the
firelight which sends an added redness to the other May’s cheeks, as
Ruby utters the name which Jack has said is “the prettiest he has ever
heard.”

Ruby escorts her new-found friend down to the hall door, issuing from
which Miss Leslie runs full tilt against a young man coming in.

“Oh, Jack,” Ruby cries, “you’re just in time! Miss May’s just going
away. I’ve forgotten her other name, so I’m just going to call her Miss
May.”

“May I see you home?” Jack Kirke asks. “It is too dark now for you to
go by yourself.” He looks straight into the eyes of the girl he has
known since she was a child, the girl who has refused his honest love
because she had no love to give in return, and May’s eyes fall beneath
his gaze.

“Very well,” she acquiesces meekly.

Ruby, looking out after the two as they go down the dark avenue,
pities them for having to go out on such a dismal night. The little
girl does not know that for them it is soon to be illumined with a
light than which there is none brighter save that of heaven, the truest
land of love.

It is rather a silent walk home, the conversation made up of the most
common of common-places–Jack trying to steel himself against this
woman, whom, try as he will, he cannot thrust out of his loyal heart;
May tortured by that most sorrowful of all loves, the love which came
too late; than which there is none sadder in this grey old world to-day.

“What a nice little girl Ruby is,” says May at length, trying to fill
up a rather pitiful gap in the conversation. “Your mother seems so fond
of her. I am sure she will miss her when she goes.”

“She’s the dearest little girl in the world,” Jack Kirke declares. His
eyes involuntarily meet May’s blue ones, and surely something which was
not there before is shining in their violet depths–“except,” he says,
then stops. “May,” very softly, “will you let me say it?”

May answers nothing; but, though she droops her head, Jack sees her
eyes are shining. They say that silence gives consent, and evidently
in this case it must have done so, or else the young man in question
chooses to translate it in that way. So the stars smile down on an
old, old story, a story as old as the old, old world, and yet new and
fresh as ever to those who for the first time scan its wondrous pages;
a story than which there is none sweeter on this side of time, the
beautiful, glamorous mystery of “love’s young dream.”

“And are you sure,” Jack asks after a time, in the curious manner
common to young lovers, “that you really love me now, May? that I
shan’t wake up to find it all a mistake as it was last time. I’m very
dense at taking it in, sweetheart; but it almost seems yet as though it
was too good to be true.”

“Quite sure,” May says. She looks up into the face of the man beside
whom all others to her are but “as shadows,” unalterable trust in her
blue eyes. “Jack,” very low, “I think I have loved you all my life.”

* * * * *

“_I_ said I would marry you, Jack,” Ruby remarks in rather an offended
voice when she hears the news. “But I s’pose you thought I was too
little.”

“That was just it, Ruby red,” Jack tells her, and stifles further
remonstrance by a kiss.

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