A Gibson Girl Romance

PrintPrintEmailEmail Du bist wie eine Blume, So hold und schön und rein; Ich schau’ dich an, und Wehmut Schleicht mir in’s Herz hinein. Mir ist, als ob ich die Hände Auf’s Haupt dir legen sollt’, Betend, dass Gott dich erhalte So rein und schön und hold .∗ You are like a flower, / So sweet and fair and pure; / I look at you and sadness / Steals into my heart. / It seems to me as if my hands / On your head I ought to lay, / Praying that God might keep you / So pure and fair and sweet.

Then he said a few words in Russian that I did not understand, turned away, and looked into the fire.

He did not turn again but said shakily, “Please go, darling, and don’t see me off in the morning. I can’t stand it. Paul is taking me to the station. If you need anything, ask him. And don’t ever forget you have given me the only happiness I have ever known, and until I die I will love you.”

I stumbled out of the room and cried myself to sleep.

I never saw him again. Years later I heard, indirectly, that he had died in Russia.

After Mike left, Paul stayed on. I used to try to see Paul, but he would never talk and would run away if he saw me coming. The Boltons, at whose place he lived and worked, were crazy about him. In fact, he was such a good hand that nearly all the farmers in town tried to hire him away.

About two years later, the week before I married Frank, Mrs. Bolton fell downstairs. She weighed 400 pounds and the Bolton house was very old, with narrow stairs going down to a tiny entry whose door opened inward. Mrs. Bolton got wedged in and could not move. Paul, the only person around at the time, heard her screams. He nearly burst a blood vessel trying to lift her, but he couldn’t.

He ran to the barn to get Mr. Bolton and some other men to help, but nothing did any good. They finally had to chop a big hole in the front wall of the house and get a small derrick to get her out. She was pitifully bruised, but no bones were broken.

As soon as I heard of the accident, I went over with some wine jelly and a shawl. Paul was quite a hero. It was he who had thought of chopping down the front of the house, and he told us about the accident with a solemn face, although he must have known how funny it was.

It was the longest speech I had ever heard him make. He spoke good English, but with an accent and not as perfectly as Mike. Yet some tone of his voice made my heart beat faster and brought memories flooding back.

I told him I was to be married. He bowed politely. I asked him to come to my wedding, and his face lighted with pleasure. I asked his name so that I could send him an invitation. He hesitated a minute, then said, “Paul Mann.”

He came to the wedding. I caught a glimpse of him standing outside in the rear talking to Roland Gilbert and many other farmer friends. At the end of the receiving line, there he was. He wished us happiness and said he would drink our health as I had asked him to. Then he handed my husband a small box. “For your wife, with the good wishes of an old friend,” he said.

I asked Paul if he had had news of His Highness.

“Yes—good news,” Paul said. “He is a farmer, too, in the west of Russia.”

There was no card with the gift. It was a beautiful circle of diamonds, with a diamond and platinum chain.

With my wedding, Paul’s vigil was over.

The Boltons were crushed at his leaving.