Mr. Jones was only too glad to obtain possession of so elegant a present at so cheap a rate. He even, as Mrs. Hughes had foretold, "paid money for it;" more than was required to defray the expenses of Ruth's accommodation, as most of the articles of food she had were paid for at the time by Mr. or Miss Benson, but they strictly forbade Mrs. Hughes to tell Ruth of this.
"Would you object to my buying you a black gown?" said Miss Benson to her, the day after the sale of the watch. She hesitated a little, and then went on--
"My brother and I think it would be better to call you--as if in fact you were--a widow. It will save much awkwardness, and it will spare your child much"----mortification, she was going to have added; but that word did not exactly do. But, at the mention of her child, Ruth started, and turned ruby-red; as she always did when allusion was made to it.
"Oh, yes! certainly. Thank you much for thinking of it. Indeed," said she, very low, as if to herself, "I don't know how to thank you for all you are doing; but I do love you, and will pray for you, if I may."
"If you may, Ruth" repeated Miss Benson, in a tone of surprise.
"Yes, if I may. If you will let me pray for you."
"Certainly, my dear. My dear Ruth, you don't know how often I sin; I do so wrong, with my few temptations. We are both of us great sinners in the eyes of the Most Holy; let us pray for each other. Don't speak so again, my dear; at least, not to me."
Miss Benson was actually crying. She had always looked upon herself as so inferior to her brother in real goodness, had seen such heights above her, that she was distressed by Ruth's humility. After a short time she resumed the subject.