Sally waited for some exclamation at the conclusion of her tale; but receiving none, she stepped softly to the bedside, and there lay Ruth, peaceful as death, with her baby on her breast.
"I thought I'd lost some of my gifts if I could not talk a body to sleep," said Sally, in a satisfied and self-complacent tone.
Youth is strong and powerful, and makes a hard battle against sorrow. So Ruth strove and strengthened, and her baby flourished accordingly; and before the little celandines were out on the hedge-banks, or the white violets had sent forth their fragrance from the border under the south wall of Miss Benson's small garden, Ruth was able to carry her baby into that sheltered place on sunny days.
She often wished to thank Mr. Benson and his sister, but she did not know how to tell the deep gratitude she felt, and therefore she was silent. But they understood her silence well. One day, as she watched her sleeping child, she spoke to Miss Benson, with whom she happened to be alone.
"Do you know of any cottage where the people are clean, and where they would not mind taking me in?" asked she.
"Taking you in! What do you mean?" said Miss Benson, dropping her knitting, in order to observe Ruth more closely.
"I mean," said Ruth, "where I might lodge with my baby--any very poor place would do, only it must be clean, or he might be ill."
"And what in the world do you want to go and lodge in a cottage for?" said Miss Benson indignantly.