"I'm thankful it isn't," said Sally; "and now, if we've talked doctrine long enough, I'll make th' beds. Yon girl's secret is safe enough for me."
Saying this she left the room, and Miss Benson followed. She found Ruth busy washing the breakfast things; and they were done in so quiet and orderly a manner, that neither Miss Benson nor Sally, both particular enough, had any of their little fancies or prejudices annoyed. She seemed to have an instinctive knowledge of the exact period when her help was likely to become a hindrance, and withdrew from the busy kitchen just at the right time.
That afternoon, as Miss Benson and Ruth sat at their work, Mrs. and Miss Bradshaw called. Miss Benson was so nervous as to surprise Ruth, who did not understand the probable and possible questions which might be asked respecting any visitor at the minister's house. Ruth went on sewing, absorbed in her own thoughts, and glad that the conversation between the two elder ladies and the silence of the younger one, who sat at some distance from her, gave her an opportunity of retreating into the haunts of memory; and soon the work fell from her hands, and her eyes were fixed on the little garden beyond, but she did not see its flowers or its walls; she saw the mountains which girdled Llan-dhu, and saw the sun rise from behind their iron outline, just as it had done--how long ago? was it months or was it years?--since she had watched the night through, crouched up at his door. Which was the dream and which the reality? that distant life or this? His moans rang more clearly in her ears than the buzzing of the conversation between Mrs. Bradshaw and Miss Benson.