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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter XXIX - Helen

AS they turned the pathway to the right, which was enclosed on either side by a hedge of cedars, they met Helen standing with lips slightly apart, and with a look of beautiful animation on her face. One glance showed that, while she had her father’s dark sparkling eyes, she was plainly the counterpart of her mother. The same forehead, the same wealth of hair (flowing down her back on this occasion), the symmetrical nose, the arched eyebrows, and the rather wide mouth, with lips inclining if anything to fullness. The occasion, which was naturally one of more than ordinary interest to her, lent an added colouring and animation to the face. Her figure had still a girlish slenderness.

Willie, who had scarcely glanced at her when he carried her out of the burning building, might be said to have really not seen her before. He certainly would not have recognised her had he met her under casual circumstances As it was, he felt sure she was Miss Rolphe before any one spoke, and his silent comment was that he had never seen so beautiful a young girl. He would fain have stood in the path and enjoyed the picture, had not Mrs. Rolphe said, "Come, Helen, dear, and greet the young man, William McNabb, who saved your life."

Helen, her face aglow with emotion, came forward, and walking up to Willie, placed her hand in his and looked earnestly into his eyes.

"I hope father and mother have thanked you for your — for your — for saving my life," she said. "I can never tell you how grateful I am. To think what a risk you ran!"

"Please don’t refer to it," said Willie. "It really wasn’t much, after all, and unless you promise not to talk of it, I shall never try to be heroic again."

So the subject was dropped for the present, the conversation turned to other channels, and by the time the three reached the house, Willie felt himself quite at ease. Helen, too, although shy, did her best to entertain her young preserver by her conversation. The difficulty with these two young people was that each stood in awe of the other. Helen regarded Willie as a great hero, somebody about whom one is accustomed to read in books; and Willie, on his part, regarded the beautiful girl as a creature only a little lower than the angels.

The dinner in the big dining-room would have been quite an ordeal to Willie had it not been for Mrs. Rolphe’s tact and good management. He could not fail to experience a sense of awe at the venerable looking gentleman who stood behind Mr. Rolphe’s chair, and who was referred to as the butler. He was far more respectable and important in his aspect than the minister at the Scotch Settlement, and eclipsed every one of the ruling elders in their "bests." Certainly, neither the minister nor any of the elders ever wore such broadcloth. Muckle Peter’s criticism would have been: "Yoan wuz a veenerable gentleman."

After the dinner Willie was shown over the conservatory and the picture gallery, and by the time the clock struck ten and he felt he must go, he was surprised at the rapidity with which the evening had slipped away. When the lad took leave of the Rolphes, he could not help feeling that an evening with a railway president and his family was after all not such a very great ordeal. When he shook hands with Helen, the young girl blushed as she said she hoped Mr. McNabb would accept her mother’s invitation and come to see them often.

Willie promised he would; then he was whirled away in Mr. Rolphe’s carriage, and was soon in his little room, tucked up in his homely bed. He dreamed that night of the beautiful vision in the pathway, and the first thought that crossed his mind after he wakened was of Helen. He was too sensible a boy to indulge in any foolish thoughts in that direction, for he realised the social gulf that was fixed between himself and the daughter of the president. But while he might control his thoughts, he could not control his dreams; and so he continued to dream of Helen.

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