I leaned out and looked at the stars and tried to think of something sweet and wholesome and strengthening.
"Ah, Nance," I cried to myself with a sob--I had pretended to take it lightly enough when he was here, but now--"if you had heard of a girl who, like yourself this evening, unexpectedly met two men she had known, and the good man ignored her and the bad one followed her--oh, Nancy--what sort of girl would you think she was at heart? What sort of hope could you imagine her treasuring for her own future? And what sort of significance would you attach to--"
And just then the bell rang again.
This time I was sure it was you. And, O Maggie, I ran to the door eager for the touch of your hand and the look in your eyes. I was afraid to be alone with my own thoughts. I was afraid of the conclusion to which they were leading me. Maggie, if ever a girl needed comfort and encouragement and heartening, I did then.
For there was a man at the door, with a great basket of azaleas--pale, pink earth-stars they are, the sweet, innocent things--and a letter for me. Here it is. Let me read it to you.
Once on a time there was a Luckless Pot, marred in the making, that had the luck to be of service to a Pipkin.
It was a saucy Pipkin, though a very winning one, and it had all the health and strength the poor Pot lacked--physically. Morally--morally, that young Pipkin was in a most unwholesome condition. Already its fair, smooth surface was scratched and fouled. It was unmindful of the treasure of good it contained, and its responsibility to keep that good intact. And it seemed destined to crash itself to pieces among pots of baser metal.
What the Luckless Pot did was little--being ignorant of the art by which diamonds may be attained easily and honestly--but it gave the little Pipkin a chance.
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