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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter LIV - Colin departs for England

ITíS only for a few months, at most," said Colin, looking fondly into Katieís eyes, as the lovers strolled over the farm the evening after the great revelation, "and then Iíll be back to claim your hand and make a countess of you. Does it not sound fantastic and strange, dearest Katie? You a countess and I an earl, after all our plain experiences!"

Katieís only answer was a sigh, and she wore a troubled expression.

"Please donít look so distressed, dearest," said Colin, with a roguish look in his eyes, and, bending down to kiss the rosy lips, "I remember reading in a book some one lent me during the war, of an earl and countess who were really quite happy. I know itís unusual, and the author may have been only romancing, but it might be true, and you and I must not despair."

"Oh, Colin," said Katie, "stop your bantering nonsense!"

"If I were quite sure of your constancy," said Colin, for the humour was on him to tease Katie, "when I am outshone by a host of more accomplished admirers, I think I should be able to face the future with greater fortitude. I have so often read of the social dissipations of London, that I contemplate the future with fear and trembling."

"Oh, Colin, how can you!" said Katie, pouting ever so little, for she did not like banter from Colin, who had always been her noble knight and her paragon of perfection.

"Will you promise, sweetheart, that you will be true to me while I am gone to prepare the house in England for your coming?"

"Colin," answered Katie, "Iíll have to box your ears and dismiss you altogether, if you continue to talk to me like that. Donít flatter yourself that because you are an earl now you can rally your country sweetheart. I shall not make any rash promises as to what I shall do while you are away."

Colinís answer was to steal his arm gently about Katieís waist, and despite her show of resistance, once more touch her lips with his.

"I am afraid, Colin, you are becoming rather presumptuous since you have inherited your title. I donít believe I like you quite so well as I did the modest, less confident Colin."

"There, now," Colin answered, "I told you I could hardly believe that book I read during the war!

Donít you tremble for the future, Katie, and wish there was some retreat?"

"Indeed I do not tremble in the least, for I have perfect confidence in my Colin, and do not intend to have him start wrong."

And so the happy sweethearts, who had never had a loversí quarrel since the days of their childhood, chatted away as the evening sped. It was the last talk they would have together for some time, as Colin, Mr. Briggs, and I were to start for England the next day. It was not anticipated that Colin would be gone longer than five or six months; at least, he promised to return in about that time, and he told Mrs. McNabb he would like to carry Katie off when he came back.

We left early the following morning, and at Colinís request called upon the lawyer in the county town who looked after any legal business that Mrs. McNabb had. Colin ascertained the exact amount owing on the mortgage on the homestead, and making a memorandum of it, he told the lawyer to have a discharge drawn, ready for signature upon his return. This done, the journey was resumed.

We went by New York, as swifter vessels could there be commanded. Needless to say, Willie and the Rolphes were delighted to hear of Colinís great good fortune. We spent the only evenings we had at our disposal in the home of the Rolphes, where we found Willie blissfully complacent, as the fiancť of Helen. As we returned to our lodgings, we did our best to laud her to his satisfaction, and partially succeeded.

He had already conducted me to the scene of Jamie's death. The saloon had been closed for some time; indeed, it had been converted into a branch rescue home and shelter for drunkards. A large brass plate had been attached to the stone wall near the door, bearing these words, in chaste black letters:

This plate is placed here to perpetuate the memory of Jamie McNabb, a brave Canadian youth who died near this spot, a martyr to the noble work of rescuing the victims of drink.

I learned that Mr. Rolphe had caused the plate to be placed there, and that he had cooperated with the missionaries who carried on the Broad Street shelter, in having the saloon where Jamie met his death converted into a branch home, as the best possible monument that could be erected to the memory of the brave lad. I noticed, the morning we sailed for England, that Willie and Colin had a long and earnest talk on the wharf before the vessel weighed anchor. They seemed to be arranging for some event of importance. The boys were devotedly attached to each other, and I am sure that Willie was more pleased to see Colin inherit an earldom than he would have been to fall heir to it himself.

The Rolphes all came down to see us off, and as Colin and I stood upon the deck waving our handkerchiefs to the party on the wharf, I said, "What a beautiful girl Helen Rolphe is!"

"Yes," answered Colin; "I know of but one more beautiful, at least in my eyes, and you know whom I mean."

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