"Indeed yes, I remember. I'll be happy to have her. But I hope the day--"
"Never mind that. The day'll come--sooner or later. I refused your offer, and now I'll tell you why."
"I know why," interposed Jane. "It's because you don't want her brought up as a Mormon."
"No, it wasn't altogether that." Mrs. Larkin raised her thin hand and laid it appealingly on Jane's. "I don't like to tell you.
But--it's this: I told all my friends what you wanted. They know you, care for you, and they said for me to trust Fay to you.
Women will talk, you know. It got to the ears of Mormons--gossip of your love for Fay and your wanting her. And it came straight back to me, in jealousy, perhaps, that you wouldn't take Fay as much for love of her as because of your religious duty to bring up another girl for some Mormon to marry."
"That's a damnable lie!" cried Jane Withersteen.
"It was what made me hesitate," went on Mrs. Larkin, "but I never believed it at heart. And now I guess I'll let you--"
"Wait! Mrs. Larkin, I may have told little white lies in my life, but never a lie that mattered, that hurt any one. Now believe me.
I love little Fay. If I had her near me I'd grow to worship her.
When I asked for her I thought only of that love....Let me prove this. You and Fay come to live with me. I've such a big house, and I'm so lonely. I'll help nurse you, take care of you. When you're better you can work for me. I'll keep little Fay and bring her up--without Mormon teaching. When she's grown, if she should want to leave me, I'll send her, and not empty-handed, back to Illinois where you came from. I promise you."
"I knew it was a lie," replied the mother, and she sank back upon her pillow with something of peace in her white, worn face. "Jane Withersteen, may Heaven bless you! I've been deeply grateful to you. But because you're a Mormon I never felt close to you till now. I don't know much about religion as religion, but your God and my God are the same."