Excerpt from Patient Heart

     "Libby, I don't know how to thank you for the excellent care you've given Mrs. Weston. I know she'd never have improved so rapidly without you. You don't know what a relief this news brings to me."
     She thought her heart would break from the pain. There was no denying it: She loved the man who stood before her. His gentle voice, his expressive eyes... She loved him. And he was thanking her for saving the life of his wife. His wife! It was all she could do to keep from breaking into tears and letting free the sobs that were building in her throat. And this pain that she felt was all her own fault. She had known from the beginning how wrong her feelings were, how unreturnable her love must be. She had tried to discourage herself from her hopeless dreams, but she had failed. And now it would soon be over.
     She didn't trust her voice. She meekly nodded to Charles and began to leave the room. She knew her emotions wouldn't remain bottled up forever, and she yearned for a few moments of solitude to compose herself. She felt as if the very walls of the room were closing in on her. But in the doorway Charles reached out and grabbed her arm.
     "Libby, Libby, I can't bear it when you look like that. What's the matter?"
     His voice was so concerned, so gentle, that she wanted to throw herself into his arms. But it wasn't right. The full realization made the dam burst, and her tears began to flow. She pulled herself free and ran from the room. She wanted to run from the pain in her heart. He was married. Married. And so no matter what her own feelings may be, no matter how she may wish that the situation may be different, that was a fact that she had to face. The woman in bed was his wife, and with Libby's strong beliefs about the institution of marriage, that was a strong, insurmountable barrier.
     She reached her room and flung herself down on the bed. Her hands were shaking and her head was throbbing. The tears streamed down her face. After a while the storm subsided, and she was blessed with sleep.
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