Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd
By Dorothy Clapp Robinson
The Doctor went into Tim’s room just ahead of me. I dropped to my knees by the bed and laid my face against the one on the pillow.
“Tim. Tim. Oh, thank goodness you were not killed!” He put his one good arm about me. The other was in bandages.
“Don’t worry.” The Doctor’s calm, level voice kept me from bursting into sobs. “He’ll be out in a week.”
“I should have taken the wheel,” Tim explained. “I knew when we left Arliss that Don had been drinking and that we had a bad stretch of road. I did suggest it, but he would not listen. Was he hurt?”
“Some,” the Doctor answered. “But he will be out in three or four days. It always happens that way. We just brought the girl from the operating room. I promised to let you know how she was.”
“Salle!” I cried, springing to my feet. “I must go to her at once.”
“She is still under the anesthetic. Her mother is with her. You had better wait until tomorrow. We will know then whether she is going to live.” He went out.
Tim groaned, and I clung to him in terror. Salle, so full of life and ambition!
“If she dies I shall always consider myself responsible,” Tim muttered from between set lips. “I was the oldest and should have knocked out that worthless pup if necessary. It was a needless accident.”
Another thought occurred to me, and I clung to his good arm. “Tim, if anything had happened to you I would not have known where you were.”
“I thought of all that while I lay under that car waiting for help. I decided if I got out alive several things would be different. One is – no more secrets.”
“I should not have been suspicious, Tim. It was all my fault. And I shouldn’t have let my work come between us. I will give it up tomorrow.”
“Not on your life. But your work did have something to do with it. I was mighty proud when you were put in president, but I knew some expense would be involved; you would need someone to look after the children more often, and there might be other expenses that couldn’t be helped.”
“So you thought you would take on extra work and not let me know.”
“I thought if you knew you would object. I know now I should have told you what I was doing. To trust is all right, but sometimes our sense of trust is strained too far. Subterfuge always breeds occasions for doubt.”
“And I couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t go places – when you were so tired.”
“Some of that was plain laziness. I’d rather stay home. Then I was asked to put another’s affairs in shape.”
He looked at me sharply. “You know about her?”
I nodded. “She died tonight.”
He started to rise but fell back with a groan. His face went gray, not alone with pain. Later he said:
“She was a grand kid but headstrong; like her father, Mrs. Grow said. She had some land she wanted to dispose of, so we planned on putting Holman and Peters out there. They both like to farm, and Bishop thought it would be the best.”
“He knew what you were doing?”
“Yes. We were working it out together. But never again will I go away without telling you.”
I clung to him in silent thankfulness. He was my own, my Tim after all.
A few days later I called to see Don. Mrs. Grow sat beside her boy. On one side of his bed was Nedra Williams. She held one of his hands in both hers, and her face fairly shone with the joy of love and conquest. Don, too, looked at me, but he was self-conscious.
“Mrs. Maylord,” he began, “Ned and I –”
“Don’t bother to explain,” I told them. “It is written all over your faces and I am so happy for you.” I meant the last more than they would guess.
“Do you think – that Salle will mind?”
“Not nearly as much as if she had married you and then found you loved Nedra.”
After spending a few moments with Don I left. Mrs. Grow went down the long hall with me. “I am glad,” she said quietly, “that he has gone back to Nedra. He would not have been happy with Salle nor she with him. Nedra is his kind and will make him a grand wife. But I love Salle so much.”
“Will you go in with me to see her?”
“Not now. Losing her and Diane at the same time has been hard. I shall be a lonely woman. I shall see her in another day or two. Just now I will go to see Mr. Holman. Peters left the hospital yesterday.”
“I am glad they weren’t hurt badly.”
Her face blanched, and I wished I could recall the words. Quickly I said, “After all, the accident has been a good thing all around. It has straightened out several tangles. Don probably won’t drink again – and it brought him and Nedra together. You will soon love her. Come to our meetings. It will give you an interest in something.”
She looked at me a moment and then said quietly, “I believe I will. If I can get a fraction of the satisfaction from it that you get, it will be worth while.”
Rejoicing in the way things were clearing up, I went into Salle’s room. I found her in tears.
“Why, Salle, what is it?”
“Nothing,” between sobs.
“You must not excite yourself. Doctor says you are going to be all right. It is only a matter of time.”
“I – I know it.”
“Then why cry?”
“Nedra Williams was in here a while ago –”
I brought her up sharply. “Don’t tell me, Salle Richards, that you are crying over Don. Were you in love with him after all?”
There was such dismay and incredulity in my voice she started to laugh, a half-crying, hysterical laugh.
“Would it have been that terrible? Of course I wasn’t. But it is – I don’t know what is the matter with me. I am always doing the wrong thing. And his mother hasn’t been in to see me. I thought she liked me. She did send me some flowers – so did the Mutual officers.”
“Didn’t you know?”
“Know what?” she asked quickly.
“She has been away. She was in to see you, but you were unconscious. She will come later.”
“Where has she been?” Salle’s voice had gone deadly quiet.
“Taking Diane – home.”
“Oh.” That was all, but it told of a wound on the girl’s heart that would be long in healing.
There came a sudden sharp knock, but before I could reach it, the door was flung open and Kent Evans stood before us. His glance went immediately to the girl on the bed.
“Salle.” In two strides he was beside her. “Salle, darling. I just heard. I have been away.”
With a happy little cry Salle surrendered herself to him. I closed the door hastily.
Tim went home that day, and as I rode beside him I found my thoughts going back over the year’s work. I thought of the Holmans, the Peters family, Salle, and the mystery that had surrounded the Grow home – that hadn’t been a mystery after all. I thought of the way Gloria had sung “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” on my first official visit to her. “Are there any of us who are not wandering sheep?” I asked myself. But so dear are we to the Kind Shepherd that he leads us all into returning paths of security and service.