Mr. Benson thought a minute or two, and then he spoke to Ruth--
"Whatever you may do when this little fellow is a year old, and able to dispense with some of a mother's care, let me beg you, Ruth, as a favour to me--as a still greater favour to my sister, is it not, Faith?"
"Yes; you may put it so if you like."
"To stay with us," continued he, "till then. When baby is twelve months old, we'll talk about it again, and very likely before then some opening may be shown us. Never fear leading an idle life, Ruth. We'll treat you as a daughter, and set you all the household tasks; and it is not for your sake that we ask you to stay, but for this little dumb helpless child's: and it is not for our sake that you must stay, but for his."
"I do not deserve your kindness," said she, in a broken voice; "I do not deserve it."
Her tears fell fast and soft like summer rain, but no further word was spoken. Mr. Benson quietly passed on to make the inquiry for which he had entered the room.
But when there was nothing to decide upon, and no necessity for entering upon any new course of action, Ruth's mind relaxed from its strung-up state. She fell into trains of reverie, and mournful regretful recollections which rendered her languid and tearful. This was noticed both by Miss Benson and Sally, and as each had kind sympathies, and felt depressed when they saw any one near them depressed, and as each, without much reasoning on the cause or reason for such depression, felt irritated at the uncomfortable state into which they themselves were thrown, they both resolved to speak to Ruth on the next fitting occasion.
Accordingly, one afternoon--the morning of that day had been spent by Ruth in house-work, for she had insisted on Mr. Benson's words, and had taken Miss Benson's share of the more active and fatiguing household duties, but she went through them heavily, and as if her heart was far away--in the afternoon when she was nursing her child, Sally, on coming into the back parlour, found her there alone, and easily detected the fact that she was crying.