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Chapter 22. POSITIVELY LAST APPEARANCE (continued)
'Forgive him, Bess. He has had a great trouble, and it makes him tender at parting with old friends; for you know he may never come back from the wild world he is going to.'
'You mean the fall and danger of death?' asked Bess, innocently.
'No, dear; a greater trouble than that. But I cannot tell you any more--except that he has come through it bravely; so you may trust and respect him, as I do.'
'He has lost someone he loved. Poor Dan! We must be very kind to him.'
Bess did not ask the question, but seemed content with her solution of the mystery--which was so true that Mrs Jo confirmed it by a nod, and let her go away believing that some tender loss and sorrow wrought the great change all saw in Dan, and made him so slow to speak concerning the past year.
But Ted was less easily satisfied, and this unusual reticence goaded him to desperation. His mother had warned him not to trouble Dan with questions till he was quite well; but this prospect of approaching departure made him resolve to have a full, clear, and satisfactory account of the adventures which he felt sure must have been thrilling, from stray words Dan let fall in his fever. So one day when the coast was clear, Master Ted volunteered to amuse the invalid, and did so in the following manner:
'Look here, old boy, if you don't want me to read, you've got to talk, and tell me all about Kansas, and the farms, and that part. The Montana business I know, but you seem to forget what went before. Brace up, and let's have it,' he began, with an abruptness which roused Dan from a brown study most effectually.
'No, I don't forget; it isn't interesting to anyone but myself. I didn't see any farms--gave it up,' he said slowly.
'Other things to do.'
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