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Darkness and daylight


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Title:DarknessandDaylight
Author:MaryJ.Holmes
ReleaseDate:December,2003[Etext#4721][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear


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DARKNESSANDDAYLIGHT.


ANovel


BY
MRS.MARYJ.HOLMES,
AUTHOROF“LENARIVERS,”“MARIANGREY,”“MEADOWBROOK,”
“HOMESTEAD,”“DORADEANE,”“COUSINMAUDE,”“TEMPESTAND
SUNSHINE,”“ENGLISHORPHANS,”ETC.

CONTENTS.
CHAPTERI.COLLINGWOODII.EDITHHASTINGSGOESTO


COLLINGWOODIII.GRACEATHERTONIV.RICHARDANDEDITHV.
VISITORSATCOLLINGWOODANDVISITORSATBRIERHILLVI.
ARTHURANDEDITHVII.RICHARDANDARTHURVIII.RICHARDAND
EDITHIX.WOMANHOODX.EDITHATHOMEXI.MATTERSAT
GRASSYSPRINGXII.LESSONSXIII.FRIDAYXIV.THEMYSTERYAT
GRASSYSPRINGXV.NINAXVI.ARTHUR’SSTORYXVII.NINAAND
MIGGIEXVIII.DR.GRISWOLDXIX.EXOFFICIOXX.THEDECISION
XXI.THEDEERINGWOODSXXII.THEDARKNESSDEEPENSXXIII.
PARTINGXXIV.THENINETEENTHBIRTHDAYXXV.DESTINYXXVI.
EDITHANDTHEWORLDXXVII.THELANDOFFLOWERSXXVIII.
SUNNYBANKXXIX.THESISTERSXXX.ARTHURANDNINAXXXI.
LASTDAYSXXXII.PARTINGWITHTHEDEADANDPARTINGWITH
THELIVINGXXXIII.HOMEXXXIV.NINA’SLETTERXXXV.THEFIERY
TESTXXXVI.THESACRIFICEXXXVII.THEBRIDALXXXVIII.SIX
YEARSLATER

DARKNESSANDDAYLIGHT.

CHAPTERI.
COLLINGWOOD.



Collingwoodwastohaveatenantatlast.Fortwelvelongyearsitsmassivewalls
ofdarkgreystonehadfrownedingloomysilenceuponthepassers-by,theterror
ofthesuperstitiousones,whohadpeopleditshallswithghostsandgoblins,
sayingeventhatthesnowy-hairedoldman,itsowner,hadmorethanoncebeen
seenthere,movingrestlesslyfromroomtoroomandmutteringofthedarkness
whichcameuponhimwhenhelosthisfairyoungwifeandherbeautifulbaby
Charlie.Theoldmanwasnotdead,butforyearshehadbeenastrangertohis
formerhome.
Inforeignlandshehadwandered—upanddown,upanddown—fromthesnowcladhillsofRussiatowheretheblueskiesofItalybentsoftlyoverhimandthe
sunnyplainsofFrancesmiledonhimawelcome.Butthedarknesshebewailed
wasthereaselsewhere,andtohissonhesaid,atlast,“WewillgotoAmerica,
butnottoCollingwood—notwhereLucyusedtolive,andwheretheboywas
born.”
Sotheycamebackagainandmadeforthemselvesahomeontheshoreofthe
silverylakesofamedinsong,wheretheyhopedtorestfromtheirweary
journeyings.Butitwasnotsodecreed.Slowlyaspoisonworkswithintheblood,
afearfulblightwasstealinguponthenoble,uncomplainingRichard,whohad
sacrificedhisearlymanhoodtohisfather’sfancies,andwhenatlasttheblow
hadfallenandcrushedhiminitsmight,hebecameashelplessasalittlechild,
lookingtoothersfortheaidhehadheretoforebeenaccustomedtorender.Then
itwasthattheweakoldmanemergedforatimefrombeneaththecloudwhich
hadenvelopedhimsolong,andwindinghisarmsaroundhisstrickenboy,said,
submissively,“WhatwillpoorDickhavemedo?”
“GotoCollingwood,whereIknoweverywalkandwindingpath,andwherethe
worldwillnotseemsodreary,forIshallbeathome.”
Thefatherhadnotexpectedthis,andhispalsiedhandsshooknervously;butthe
terriblemisfortuneofhissonhadtouchedachordofpity,andbroughttohis
darkenedmindavagueremembranceoftheyearsinwhichtheunselfishRichard
hadthoughtonlyofhiscomfort,andsoheansweredsadly,“Wewillgoto
Collingwood.”
Oneweekmore,anditwasknowninShannondale,thatcrazyCaptain


Harringtonandhisson,thehandsomeSquireRichard,werecomingagaintothe
oldhomestead,whichwasfirsttobefittedupinamostprincelystyle.All
throughthesummermonthstheextensiveimprovementsandrepairswenton,
awakeningtheliveliestinterestinthevillagers,whobusiedthemselveswith
watchingandreportingtheprogressofeventsatCollingwood.Fireswere
kindledonthemarblehearths,andtheflameswentroaringupthebroadmouthedchimneys,frighteningfromtheirnestsofmanyyearsthecroaking
swallows,andscaringawaythebats,whichhadsolongheldholidayinthe
desertedrooms.Partitionswereremoved,foldingdoorsweremade,windows
werecutdown,andlargepanesofglassweresubstitutedforthoseofmore
ancientdate.Thegroundsandgardentoowerereclaimedfromthewasteof
briersandweedswhichhadsowantonlyriotedthere;andthewatersofthefishpond,relievedoftheirdarkgreenslimeanddecayingleaves,gleamedoncemore
inthesummersunshinelikeasheetofburnishedsilver,whileafairyboatlay
mooreduponitsbosomasintheoldentime.Softlythehillsidebrookletfell,like
aminiaturecascade,intothelittlepond,andthelowmusicitmadeblended
harmoniouslywiththefallofthefountainnotfaraway.
Itwasindeedabeautifulplace;andwhenthefurnishingprocessbegan,crowds
ofeagerpeopledailythrongedthespaciousrooms,commentinguponthe
carpets,thecurtains,thechandeliers,thefurnitureofrosewoodandmarble,and
marvellingmuchwhyRichardHarringtonshouldcareforsurroundingssocostly
andelegant.Coulditbethatheintendedsurprisingthemwithabride?Itwas
possible—nay,more,itwashighlyprobablethatwearyofhisfoolishsire’s
continualmutteringsof“Lucyandthedarkness,”hebadfoundsomefairyoung
girltosharethecarewithhim,andthiswashergildedcage.
Shannondalewaslikeallcountrytowns,andtheideaoncesuggested,thestory
rapidlygainedground,untilatlastitreachedtheearofGraceAtherton,the
prettyyoungwidow,whosewindowslookeddirectlyacrossthestretchesof
meadowandwoodlandtowhereCollingwoodlifteditssingletoweranditswalls
ofdarkgreystone.AsbecametheownerofBrierHillandthewidowofajudge,
Graceheldherselfsomewhatabovetherestofthevillagers,associatingwithbut
few,andfindinghersocietymostlyinthecitynotmanymilesaway,
Whenhercross,gouty,phthisicy,fidgetyoldhusbandlaysickforthreewhole
months,shenursedhimsopatientlythatpeoplewonderedifitcouldbeshe
lovedtheSURLYDOG,andonewoman,bolderthantheothers,askedherifshe
did.


“Lovehim?No,”sheanswered,“butIshalldomyduty.”
Sowhenhediedshemadehimagrandfuneral,butdidnotpretendthatshewas
sorry.Shewasnot,andthenightonwhichshecrossedthethresholdofBrierHill
awidowoftwenty-onesawherahappierwomanthanwhenshefirstcrossedit
asabride.SuchwasGraceAtherton,aproud,independent,butwellprincipled
woman,attendingstrictlytoherownaffairs,andexpectingotherstodothe
same.InthegossipconcerningCollingwood,shehadtakennoverbalpart,but
therewasnoonemoredeeplyinterestedthanherself,spiteofherstudied
indifference.
“Youneverknewthefamily,”aladycallersaidtoheronemorning,whenata
ratherlatehourshesatlanguidlysippingherrichchocolate,anddaintilypicking
atthesnowyrollsandnicelybutteredtoast,“youneverknewthemoryouwould
ceasetowonderwhythevillagepeopletakesomuchinterestintheir
movements,andaresogladtohavethemback.”
“Ihaveheardtheirstory,”returnedMrs.Atherton,“andIhavenodoubttheson
isaveryfinespecimenofanoldbachelor;thirty-five,isn’the,orthereabouts?”
“Thirty-five!”andKittyMaynardraisedherhandsindismay.“MydearMrs.
Atherton,he’shardlythirtyyet,andthosewhohaveseenhimsincehisreturn
fromEurope,pronouncehimasplendidlookingman,withanairofremarkably
highbreeding.IwonderifthereISanytruthinthereportthatheistobringwith
himabride.”
“Abride,Kitty!”andthemassivesilverforkdroppedfromGraceAtherton’s
hand.
SHEwasinterestednow,andnervouslypullingthegathersofherwhitemorning
gown,shelistenedwhiletheloquaciousKittytoldherwhatsheknewofthe
imaginarywifeofRichardHarrington.Thehandsceasedtheirworkingatthe
gathers,andassuminganairofindifference,Graceranghersilverbell,which
wasimmediatelyansweredbyasingularlookinggirl,whomsheaddressedas
Edith,biddingherbringsomeorangemarmaladefromanadjoiningcloset.Her
orderswereobeyed,andthenthechildlingeredbythedoor,listeningeagerlyto
theconversationwhichGracehadresumedconcerningCollingwoodandits
futuremistress.
EdithHastingswasastrangechild,withastrangehabitofexpressingher


thoughtsaloud,andassheheardthebeautiesofCollingwooddescribedinKitty
Maynard’smostglowingterms,shesuddenlyexclaimed,“Oh,JOLLYdon’tI
wishIcouldlivethere,onlyI’dbeafraidofthatboywhohauntstheupper
rooms.”
“Edith!”saidMrs.Atherton,sternly,“whyareyouwaitinghere?Goatonceto
Rachelandbidhergiveyousomethingtodo.”
Thusrebukedtheblack-eyed,black-haired,black-facedlittlegirlwaitedaway,
notcringingly,forEdithHastingspossessedaspiritasproudasthatofherhigh
bornmistress,andshewentslowlytothekitchen,where,underRachel’s
directions,shewassooninthemysteriesofdish-washing,whiletheladiesinthe
parlorcontinuedtheirconversation.
“Idon’tknowwhatIshalldowiththatchild,”saidGrace,asEdith’sfootsteps
diedaway.IsometimeswishIhadleftherwhereIfoundher.”
“Why,Ithoughtheraverybrightlittlecreature,”saidKitty,andhercompanion
replied,
“She’stoobright,andthat’sthetrouble.Sheimitatesmeineverything,walks
likeme,talkslikeme,andyesterdayIfoundherinthedrawing-roomgoing
throughwithapantomimeofreceivingcallsthewayIdo.Iwishyoucouldhave
seenherstatelybowwhenpresentedtoanimaginarystranger.”
“Didshedocredittoyou?”Kittyasked,andGracereplied,
“Ican’tsaythatshedidnot,butIdon’tlikethisdispositionofhers—toputon
theairsofpeopleaboveher.Nowifshewerenotapoor—”
“Look,look!”interruptedKitty,“thatmustbethefivehundreddollarpianosent
upfromBoston,”andshedirectedhercompanion’sattentiontothelongwagon
whichwaspassingthehouseonthewaytoCollingwood.
ThisbroughttheconversationbackfromtheaspiringEdithtoRichard
Harrington,andasoldRachelsooncameintoremovehermistress’breakfast,
Kittytookherleave,sayingasshebadeherfriendgoodmorning,
“Itrustitwillnotbelongbeforeyouknowhim.”


“Knowhim!”repeatedGrace,whenatlastshewasalone.“JustasifIhadnot
knownhimtomysorrow.Oh,Richard,Richard!maybeyou’dforgivemeifyou
knewwhatIhavesuffered,”andtheproud,beautifuleyesfilledwithtearsas
GraceAthertonpluckedthebroadgreenleavesfromthegrapevineoverher
head,andtearingtheminpiecesscatteredthefragmentsuponthefloorofthe
piazza.“WastheretobeabrideatCollingwood?”Thiswasthequestionwhich
rackedherbrain,keepingherinaconstantstateoffeverishexcitementuntilthe
verymorningcamewhenthefamilywereexpected.
Mrs.Matson,theformerhousekeeper,hadresumedheroldposition,andthough
shecameoftentoBrierHilltoconsultthetasteofMrs.Athertonastothe
arrangementofcurtainsandfurniture,Gracewastoohaughtilypolitetoquestion
her,andeverycarwhistlefoundheratthewindowwatchingforthecarriageand
asightofitsinmates.Oneafteranotherthewesterntrainsarrived,andthesoft
Septembertwilightdeepenedintodarkernight,showingtotheexpectantGrace
thenumerouslightsshiningfromthewindowsofCollingwood.EdithHastings,
too,imbuedwithsomethingofhermistress’spirit,wasonthealert,andwhen
thelasttraininwhichtheycouldpossiblycome,thunderedthroughthetown,her
quickearwasthefirsttocatchthesoundofwheelsgrindingslowlyupthehill.
“Theyarecoming,Mrs.Atherton!”shecried;andnimbleasasquirrelshe
climbedthegreatgatepost,wherewithherelflocksfloatingabouthersparkling
face,shesat,whilethecarriagepassedslowlyby,thensayingtoherself,“Pshaw,
itwasn’tworththetrouble—Ineversawathing,”shesliddownfromherhigh
position,andstealinginthebackwaysoastoavoidthescoldingMrs.Atherton
wassuretogiveher,shecreptuptoherownchamber,whereshestoodlongby
theopenwindow,watchingthelightsatCollingwood,andwonderingifit
WOULDmakeapersonperfectlyhappytobeitsmistressandthebrideof
RichardHarrington.

CHAPTERII.
EDITHHASTINGSGOESTOCOLLINGWOOD.

ThequestionEdithhadaskedherself,standingbyherchamberwindow,was
answeredbyGraceAthertonsittingnearherown.“Yes,thebrideofRichard


HarringtonMUSTbeperfectlyhappy,ifbrideindeedtherewere.”Shewas
beginningtofeelsomedoubtuponthispoint,forstrainhereyesasshemight,
shehadnotbeenabletodetecttheleastsignsoffemininityinthepassing
carriage,andhopewhisperedthatthebrightestdreamshehadeverdreamed
mightyetberealized.
“I’lllethimknowto-morrow,thatI’mhere,”shesaid,assheshookoutherwavy
auburnhair,andthought,withaglowofpride,howbeautifulitwas.“I’llsend
Edithwithmycomplimentsandabouquetofflowerstothebride.She’lldeliver
thembetterthananyoneelse,ifIcanoncemakeherunderstandwhatIwishher
todo.”
Accordingly,thenextmorning,asEdithsatuponthestepsofthekitchendoor,
talkingtoherself,Graceappearedbeforeherwithatastefullyarrangedbouquet,
whichshebadehertakewithhercomplimentstoMrs.RichardHarrington,if
therewassuchabody,andtoMr.RichardHarringtoniftherewerenot.
“Doyouunderstand?”sheasked,andEdithfarmoreinterestedinhervisitto
Collingwoodthaninwhatshewastodowhenshereachedthere,replied,
“OfcourseIdo;I’mtogiveyourcompliments;”andshejammedherhandinto
thepocketofherginghamapron,asiftomakesurethecomplimentswerethere.
“I’mtogivethemtoMR.Richard,ifthereisone,andtheflowerstoMrs.
Richard,ifthereain’t!”
Gracegroanedaloud,whileoldRachel,thecoloredcook,whoonalloccasions
wasEdith’schampion,removedherhandsfromthedoughshewaskneadingand
comingtowardsthem,chimedin,“Sheain’tfairlygotitthroughherhar,Miss
Grace.She’ssuchasubstractedwaywithherthatyoumostlyhastotellher
twicet,”andinherownpeculiarstyleRachelsucceededinmakingthe
“substracted”childcomprehendthenatureofhererrand.
“Nowdon’tgotoblunderin’,”wasRachel’spartinginjunction,asEdithleftthe
yardandturnedinthedirectionofCollingwood.
ItwasamellowSeptembermorning,andafterleavingthemainroadand
enteringthegateofCollingwood,theyounggirllingeredbytheway,admiring
thebeautyofthegrounds,andgazingwithfeelingsofadmirationuponthe
massivebuilding,surroundedbymajesticmaples,andbaskingsoquietlyinthe
warmsunlight.Atthemarblefountainshepausedforalong,longtime,talking


tothegoldenfisheswhichdartedsoswiftlypasteachother,andwishingshe
couldtaketheminherhand“justtoseethemsquirm.”
“ImeantocatchONEanyway,”shesaid,andglancingnervouslyatthe
windowstomakesurenoMrs.Richardwaswatchingher,shebaredherround,
plumparm,andthrustitintothewater,justasafootstepsoundednear.
Quicklywithdrawingherhandandgatheringupherbouquet,sheturnedabout
andsawapproachingheroneofCollingwood’sghosts.Sheknewhimina
moment,forshehadheardhimdescribedtoooftentomistakethatwhite-haired,
bentoldmanforotherthanCapt.Harrington.Hedidnotchideherasshe
supposedhewould,neitherdidheseemintheleastsurprisedtoseeherthere.
Onthecontrary,hiswithered,wrinkledfacebrightenedwithalookofeager
expectancy,ashesaidtoher,“Littlegirl,canyoutellmewhereCharlieis?”
“Charlie?”sherepeated,retreatingasteportwoasheapproachednearerand
seemedabouttolayhishanduponherhair,forherbonnetwashangingdown
herback,andherwildgipsylocksfellinrichprofusionaboutherface.“Idon’t
knowanyboybythatname,I’mnobodybutEdithHastings,Mrs.Atherton’s
waitingmaid,andshedon’tletmeplaywithboys.OnlyTimDoolittleandI
wenthuckleberryingonce,butIhatehim,hehassuchgreatwartsonhishands,”
andhavingthusgivenheropinionofTimDoolittle,Edithsnatchedupher
bonnetandplacedituponherhead,fortheoldmanwasevidentlydeterminedto
touchhercrow-blackhair.
Heranswer,however,changedthecurrentofhisthoughts,andwhilealookof
intensepainflittedacrosshisface,hewhisperedmournfully,“Thesameold
storytheyalltell.Imighthaveknownit,butthisonelookedsofresh,sotruthful,
thatIthoughtmaybeshe’dseenhim.Mrs.Atherton’swaitingmaid,”andhe
turnedtowardEdith—“Charlie’sdead,andweallwalkindarknessnow,Richard
andall.”
ThisallusiontoRichardremindedEdithofhererrand,andthinkingtoherself,
“I’llaskthecrazyoldthingifthere’saladyhere,”sheranafterhimashewalked
slowlyawayandcatchinghimbythearm,said,“Tellme,please,isthereany
Mrs.RichardHarrington?”
“NotthatIknowof.They’vekeptitfrommeifthereis,butthere’sRichard,he
cantellyou,”andhepointedtowardamaninadistantpartofthegrounds.


Curtseyingtohercompanion,Edithranoffinthedirectionofthefiguremoving
soslowlydownthegravelledwalk.
“Iwonderwhatmakeshimsethisfeetdownsocarefully,”shethought,asshe
camenearertohim.“Maybetherearepegsinhisshoes,justastherewerein
minelastwinter,”andthebarefootlittlegirlglancedathernakedtoes,feeling
gladtheywereforthepresentoutoftorture.
Bythistimeshewaswithinafewrodsofthestrangeactingman,who,hearing
herrapidsteps,stopped,andturningroundwithawistful,questioninglook,said,
“Who’sthere?Whoisit?”
Thetoneofhisvoicewasrathersharp,andEdithpausedsuddenly,whilehe
madeanuncertainmovementtowardher,stillkeepinghisearturnedinthe
attitudeofintenselistening.
“Iwonderwhathethinksofme?”wasEdith’smentalcommentasthekeenblack
eyesappearedtoscanherclosely.
Alas,hewasnotthinkingofheratall,andsoonresuminghiswalk,hewhispered
tohimself,“Theymusthavegonesomeotherway.”
Slowly,cautiouslyhemovedon,neverdreamingofthelittlespritebehindhim,
who,imitatinghisgaitandmanner,putdownherchubbybarefeetjustwhenhis
wentdown,lookingoccasionallyoverhershouldertoseeifherclothesswung
fromsidetosidejustlikeMrs.Atherton’s,andtreadingsosoftlythathedidnot
hearheruntilhereachedthesummer-house,whenthecrackingofatwig
betrayedthepresenceofsomeone,andagainthatsad,troubledvoicedemanded,
“Whoishere?”whilethearmswerestretchedoutasiftograsptheintruder,
whoeveritmightbe.
Edithwasgrowingexcited.Itremindedherofblindman’sbuff;andshebenther
headtoeludethehandwhichcamesonearentanglingitselfinherhair.Againa
profoundsilenceensued,andthinkingitmighthavebeenafancyofhisbrain
thatsomeonewastherewithhim,poorblindRichardHarringtonsatdown
withinthearbor,wherethepleasantSeptembersunshine,stealingthroughthe
thickvineleaves,fellindancingcirclesuponhisbroadwhitebrow,abovewhich
hisjetblackhairlayinrings.Hewasatall,dark,handsomeman,withasingular
castofcountenance,andEdithfeltthatshehadneverseenanythingsogrand,so


noble,andyetsohelplessasthemansittingtherebeforeher.Sheknewnowthat
hewasblind,andshewasalmostgladthatitwasso,forhaditbeenotherwise
shewouldneverhavedaredtoscanhimasshewasdoingnow.Shewouldnot
fortheworldhavemettheflashofthosekeenblackeyes,hadtheynotbeen
sightless,andshequailedevennow,whentheywerebentuponher,althoughshe
knewtheirglancewasmeaningless.Itseemedtohersoterribletobeblind,and
shewonderedwhyheshouldcaretohavehishouseandgroundssohandsome
whenhecouldnotseethem.Stillshewaspleasedthattheywereso,forthere
wasasingularfitness,shethought,betweenthissplendidmanandhis
surroundings.
“Iwishhehadalittlegirllikemetoleadhimandbegoodtohim,”washernext
mentalcomment,andthewildideacrossedherbrainthatpossiblyMrs.Atherton
wouldlethercomeuptoCollingwoodandbehiswaitingmaid.Thisbroughtto
mindasecondtimetheobjectofherbeingtherenow,andshebegantodevise
thebestplanfordeliveringthebouquet.“Idon’tbelievehecaresforthe
compliments,”shesaidtoherself,“anyway,I’llkeepthemtillanothertime,”but
theflowers;howshouldshegivethosetohim?Shewasbeginningtobevery
muchafraidofthefiguresittingtheresosilently,andatlastmusteringallher
courage,shegaveapreliminarycough,whichstartedhimtohisfeet,andashis
tallformtoweredabovehershefeltherfearscomeback,andscarcelyknowing
whatshewasdoingshethrustthebouquetintohishand,sayingasshedidso,
“POORblindman,IamsosorryandI’vebroughtyousomeniceflowers.”
Thenextmomentshewasgone,andRichardheardthepatterofherfeetfarup
thegravelledwalkerehehadrecoveredfromhissurprise.Whowasshe,and
whyhadsherememberedhim?Thevoicewasvery,verysweet,thrillinghim
withastrangemelody,whichcarriedhimbacktoasummersunsetyearsago,
whenonthebanksoftheblueRhinehehadlistenedtoabeautiful,dark-eyed
Swedesingingherinfantdaughtertosleep.Thentheriveritselfappearedbefore
him,coldandgreywiththeNovemberfrosts,andonitsagitatedsurfacehesaw
alittledimpledhanddisappearingfromview,whiletheshriekofthedark-eyed
Swedetoldthatherchildwasgone.Aplunge—afearfulstruggle—andheheld
thelimp,whiteobjectinhisarms;heboreittotheshore;heheardthemsaythat
hehadsaveditslife,andthenheturnedasidetochangehisdrippinggarments
andwarmhisicylimbs.ThiswasthefirstpicturebroughttohismindbyEdith
Hastings’voice.Thesecondwasasadderone,andhegroanedaloudashe
rememberedhowfromthetimeoftheterriblecoldtakenthen,andthesevere
illnesswhichfollowed,hiseyesighthadbeguntofail—slowly,veryslowly,itis


true—andforyearshecouldnotbelievethatHeavenhadinstoreforhimsosad
afate.Butithadcomeatlast—daylighthadfadedoutandthenightwasdark
aroundhim.Once,inhishourofbitterestagony,hehadcursedthatSwedish
baby,wishingithadperishedinthewatersoftheRhine,erehesaveditatso
fearfulasacrifice.Buthehadrepentedofthewickedthought;hewasgladhe
savedtheprettyPetrea’schild,eventhoughbeshouldneverseeherfaceagain.
Heknewnotwhereshewas,thatgirlishwife,speakingherbrokenEnglishfor
thesakeofherAmericanhusband,whowasnotalwaysaskindtoherashe
shouldhavebeen.Hehadheardnotidingsofhersincethatfatalautumn.Hehad
scarcelythoughtofherformonths,butshecamebacktohimnow,anditwas
Edith’svoicewhichbroughther.
“Poorblindman,”hewhisperedaloud.“HowlikethatwastoPetrea,whenshe
saidofmyfather,‘Poor,softoldman;’”andthenhewonderedagainwhohis
visitorhadbeen,andwhyshehadlefthimsoabruptly.
Itwasachild,heknew,andheprizedhergiftthemoreforthat,forRichard
Harringtonwasadearloverofchildrenandhekissedthefairbouquetashe
wouldnothavekissedithadheknownfromwhomitcame.Risingatlastfrom
hisseat,hegropedhiswaybacktothehouse,andorderingoneofthecostly
vasesinhisroomtobefilledwithwater,heplacedtheflowerstherein,and
thoughthowcarefullyhewouldpreservethemforthesakeofhisunknown
friend.
MeantimeEdithkeptonherway,pausingonceandlookingbackjustintimeto
seeMr.Harringtonkisstheflowersshehadbrought.
“I’mgladtheypleasehim,”shesaid;“buthowawfulitistobeblind;”andby
wayoftryingtheexperiment,sheshuthereyes,andstretchingoutherarms,
walkedjustasRichard,succeedingsowellthatshewasbeginningtoconsiderit
ratheragreeablethanotherwise,whensheunfortunatelyranintoatallrose-bush,
scratchingherforehead,tanglingherhair,andstubbinghertoesagainstits
gnarledroots.“‘Taintsojollytobeblindafterall,”shesaid,“IdobelieveI’ve
brokenmytoe,”andextricatingherselfasbestshecouldfromthesharpthorns,
sheranonasfastasherfeetcouldcarryher,wonderingwhatMrs.Atherton
wouldsaywhensheheardRichardwasblind,andfeelingakindofnatural
delightinknowingsheshouldbethefirsttocommunicatethebadnews.



CHAPTERIII.
GRACEATHERTON.

“Edith,”saidMrs.Atherton,whohadseenhercoming,andhastenedouttomeet
her,“youweregonealongtime,Ithink.”
“Yes’m,”answeredEdith,spittingoutthebonnetstringsshehadbeenchewing,
andtossingbackthethickblacklockswhichnearlyconcealedhereyesfrom
view.“Yes’m;ittookmeagoodwhiletotalktooldDarkness.”
“Talktowhom?”askedGrace;andEdithreturned,
“Idon’tknowwhatyoucallhimif‘taintoldDarkness;hekeptmutteringabout
thedark,andasked“whereCharliewas.”
“OleCap’nHarrington,”saidRachel.“Theysayhow’the’sallusgoin’on‘bout
Charliean’thedark.”
ThisexplanationwassatisfactorytoGrace,whoproceedednexttoquestion
EdithconcerningMrs.RichardHarrington,askingifshesawher,etc.
“Thereain’tanysuch,”returnedEdith,“butIsawMr.Richard.Jolly,isn’the
grand?He’sastallastheridge-pole,and–”
“Butwhatdidhesaytotheflowers?”interruptedGrace,farmoreintentupon
knowinghowhergifthadbeenreceived,thanhearingdescribedthepersonal
appearanceofoneshehadseensooften.
Edithfeltintuitivelythatanarrativeoftheparticularsattendingthedeliveryof
thebouquetwouldinsureherascolding,soshemerelyanswered,“Hedidn’tsay
aword,onlykissedthemhard,buthecan’tseethem,Mrs.Atherton.Hecan’t
seeme,noryou,noranybody.He’sblindasabat—”
“Blind!Richardblind!Oh,Edith;”andthebrightcolorwhichhadstained
Grace’scheekswhensheknewthatRichardhadkissedherflowers,fadedout,
leavingthemofapallidhue.Sinkingintothenearestchair,shekeptrepeating
“blind—blind—poor,poorRichard.Itcannotbe.Bringmesomewater,Rachel,


andhelpmetomyroom.Thisintenselyhotmorningmakesmefaint.”
Rachelcouldnotbethuseasilydeceived.Sherememberedanoldhousein
England,lookingoutuponthesea,andtheflirtationcarriedonallsummerthere
betweenhermistress,thenabeautifulyounggirlofseventeen,andthetall,
handsomeman,whomtheycalledRichardHarrington.Sheremembered,too,the
white-haired,goutyman,who,laterintheautumn,cametothatoldhouse,and
whosehalfmillionGracehadmarried,saying,bywayofapology,thatifRichard
chosetowastehislifeinhumoringthewhimsofhisfoolishfather,shesurely
wouldNOTwasteherswithhim.SHEwouldseetheworld!
Alas,poorGrace.Shehadseentheworldandpaiddearlyforthesight,for,go
whereshemight,shesawalwaysoneface,oneform;heardalwaysonevoice
murmuringinherear,“Couldyouenduretosharemyburden?”
No,shecouldnot,shesaid,andsoshehadtakenuponherselfaburdentenfold
heaviertobear—aburdenwhichcrushedherspirits,robbedhercheekofits
youthfulbloom,afterwhichshesentnoregretwhenatlastitdisappeared,
leavingherfreetothinkagainofRichardHarrington.Itwasaterribleblowto
herthathewasblind,andtalkasshemightaboutthefaintnessofthemorning,
oldRachelknewtherealcauseofherdistress,andwhenalonewithher,said,by
wayofcomfort,
“Law,now,MissGrace,‘taintworthawhiletotakeonso.Like‘noughhe’llbe
cured—mebbyit’snothin’butthemfetchedwater-falls—CAT-A-RATS,that’sit
—andhecanhave‘emcutout.Iwouldn’tgotoactin’likeIwaslove-sickfora
manI‘scardedoncet.”
GracewasfartooproudtosufferevenherfaithfulRachelthustoaddressher,
andturningherflashingeyesupontheoldwoman,shesaidhaughtily,
“Howdareyoutalktomeinthisway—don’tyouknowIwon’tallowit?
Besides,whatreasonhaveyouforassertingwhatyouhave?”
“WhatreasonhasI?Plentyreason—dischileain’tafoolifsheisanigger,raised
inGeorgy,andabornslavetillshewasturnedofthirty.Yourpoormarmwho
donesotmefree,wouldneverspoketomethatway.WhatreasonhasI?I’segot
goodmem’ry—I‘membersthemlettersIusedtototeforridandback,overthar
inEngland;andhowyouusedtowatchbythewindertillyouseenhimcomin’,
andthen,gal-like,ranofftomakehimthinkyouwasn’tparticular‘boutseein’


him.But,itpassesme,whatmadeyouhaveolemoneybags.Inevercouldsee
interthat,whenIknowdhowyouhatedhisshinybaldhead,andslunkawayif
heofferedtotacheyouwithhisold,soft,flappyhands.Youaregladhe’sin
Heaven,yonknowyoube;andthoughIneversaidnothin’,Iknowdyouwas
gladthatSquireHerrin’tonwascomebacktoCollingwood,justasIknowdwhat
madeyouchokelikeachickenwiththepipwhenEdithtoleyouhewasblind.
Can’tcheatdischile,”andadjustingherwhiteturbanwithanairofinjured
dignity,Rachellefthermistress,andreturnedtothekitchen.
“WhatailsMrs.Atherton?”askedEdith,fancyingitmustbesomethingserious
whichcouldkeeptheoldnegresssolongfromherbread.
OnordinaryoccasionsthetolerablydiscreetAfricanwouldhavemadesome
evasivereply,butwithherfeathersallruffled,shebelchedout,“Theupshotof
thematteris,she’sinlove?”
“Inlove?WhodoesMrs.Athertonlove?”
“Him—theblindman,”returnedRachel,addingfiercely,“butifyoueverlether
knowItoldyou,I’llskinyoualive—doyouhear?Likeenoughshe’llbefor
sendin’youuptharwithmoreposies,an’ifshedoes,doyouholdyourtongue
andtake‘emalong.”
EdithhadnodesiretobetrayRachel’sconfidence,andslippingoneshoulderout
ofherlowdressshedartedoffafterabutterfly,wonderingtoherselfifitmade
everybodyfaintandsickattheirstomachtobeinlove!Itseemedverynatural
thatoneasrichandbeautifulasGraceshouldloveRichardHarrington,andthe
factthatshedid,insensiblyraisedinherestimationthepoor,white-faced
woman,who,inthesolitudeofherchamberwasweepingbitterertearsthanshe
hadshedbeforeinyears.
Coulditheso?Shehopedtherewassomemistake—andwhenanhourlatershe
heardKittyMaynard’scheerfulvoiceinthelowerhallherheartgaveaboundas
shethought,“She’llknow—she’sheardofitbythistime.”
“PleasemayIcomein?”saidKitty,atherdoor.“Racheltoldmeyouhada
headache,butIknowyouwon’tmindme,”anderethewordswerehalfoutof
hermouth,Kitty’sbonnetwasoffandshewaspercheduponthefootofthebed.
HAVEyouheardthenews?”shebegan.“It’ssowonderful,andsosad,too.
SquireHarringtonisnotmarried;he’sworseoffthanthat—he’shopelessly


blind.”
“Indeed!”andGraceAtherton’smannerwasveryindifferent.
“Yes,”Kittycontinued,“HisFrenchvalet,Victor,whotravelledwithhimin
Europe,toldbrotherWillallaboutit.Sevenoreightyearsagotheywere
spendingthesummeruponthebanksoftheRhine,andinacottagenearthem
wasanAmericanwithaSwedishwifeandbaby.Theman,itseems,wasa
dissipatedfellow,mucholderthanhiswife,whomheneglectedshamefully,
leavingheraloneforweeksatatime.Thebaby’snamewasEloise,andshewas
agreatpetwithRichardwhowasfondofchildren.Atlast,onedayinautumn,
thelittleEloise,whohadjustlearnedtorunalone,wanderedoffbyherselftoa
bluff,orrock,orsomething,fromwhichshefellintotheriver.Themother,
Petrea,wascloseby,andherterrificshrieksbroughtRichardtothespotintime
tosavethechild.Hehadnotbeenwellforseveraldays,andthefrightfulcoldhe
tookinducedafever,whichseemedtosettleinhiseyes,foreversincehissight
hasbeenfailinguntilnowithaslefthimentirely.Buthark!isn’tsomeoneinthe
nextroom?”andshesteppedintotheadjoiningapartmentjustasthenimble
Edithdisappearedfromview.
ShehadbeensentupbyRachelwithamessagetoMrs.Atherton,andwasjustin
timetohearthecommencementofKitty’sstory.Anythingrelatingtotheblind
manwasinterestingtoher,andsoshelistened,herlargeblackeyesgrowing
largerandblackerasthetaleproceeded.ItdidNOTseemwhollynewtoher,that
storyofthedrowningchild—thatcottageontheRhine,andforamomentshe
heardastrainoflow,richmusicsungasalullabytosomerestless,wakeful
child.Thenthemusic,thecottageandtheblueRhinefadedaway.Shecouldnot
recallthem,butboundasbyaspellshelistenedstill,untilthewordPetrea
droppedfromKitty’slips.Thenshestartedsuddenly.Surely,she’dheardthat
NAMEbefore.Whosewasit?Whenwasit?Wherewasit?Shecouldnottell,
andsherepeateditinawhispersoloudthatitattractedKitty’sattention.
“Ishallcatchitifshefindsmelistening,”thoughtEdith,assheheardKitty’s
remark,andinherhastetoescapesheforgotallaboutPetrea—allaboutthe
lullaby,andrememberednothingsavethenobledeedoftheheroicRichard.
“Whatanoblemanhemustbe,”shesaid,“tosavethatbaby’slife,andhowshe
wouldpityhimifsheknewitmadehimblind.Iwonderwheresheis.Shemust
bemostasbigasIamnow;”andifitwerepossibleEdith’seyesgrewbrighter
thantheirwontasshethoughthowhadSHEbeenthatSwedishchild,shewould


gostraightuptoCollingwoodandbetheblindman’sslave.Shewouldreadto
him.Shewouldseeforhim,andwhenhewalked,shewouldleadhimso
carefully,removingalltheuglypegsfromhisboots,andwatchingtoseethathe
didnotstubhistoes,asshewasalwaysdoinginherheadlonghaste.“Whata
greatgoodmanheis,”shekeptrepeating,whileatthesametimeshefeltan
undefinableinterestintheSwedishchild,whomatthatverymoment,Grace
AthertonwascursinginherheartasthecauseofRichard’smisfortune.
Kittywasgoneatlast,andgladtobealonesheweptpassionatelyoverthis
desolationofherhopes,wishingoftenthatthebabyhadperishedintheriverere
ithadwroughtaworksosad.HowshehatedthatSwedishmotherandherchild
—howshehatedallchildrenthen,eventheblackhairedEdith,outintheautumn
sunshine,singingtoherselfalong-forgottenstrain,whichhadcomebacktoher
thatmorning,ladenwithperfumefromthevine-cladhillsofBingen,andwith
musicfromtheRhine.Softlythefull,richmelodycamestealingthroughthe
openwindow,andGraceAthertonasshelistenedtothemournfulcadencefelt
herheartgrowinglesshardandbittertowardfate,towardtheworld,andtoward
theinnocentSwedishbabe.ThenassherememberedthatRichardkissedthe
flowers,aflushmountedtoherbrow.Hedidloveheryet;throughallthedreary
yearsoftheirseparationhehadclungtoher,andwoulditnotatoneforher
formerselfishness,ifnowthattheworldwasdarktohim,sheshouldgive
herselftothetaskofcheeringthedeepdarkness?Itwouldbehappiness,she
thought,tobepointedoutasthedevotedwifeoftheblindman,fargreater
happinesstobaskinthesunlightoftheblindman’slove,forGraceAthertondid
lovehim,andinthemightofherlovesheresolvedupondoingthatfromwhich
shewouldhaveshrunkhadhenotbeenashelplessandafflictedashewas.Edith
shouldbethemediumbetweenthem.Edithshouldtakehimflowerseveryday,
untilhesignifiedawishforhertocomeherself,whenshewouldgo,andsitting
byhisside,wouldtellhim,perhaps,howsadherlifehadbeensincethatchoice
ofhersmadeontheshoreofthedeepsea.Then,ifheaskedheragaintoshare
hislonelylot,shewouldgladlylayherheaduponhisbosom,andwhisperback
thewordsheshouldhavesaidtohimsevenyearsago.
ItwasapleasantpictureofthefuturewhichGraceAthertondrewasshelay
watchingthewhitecloudscomeandgooverthedistanttreetopsof
Collingwood,andlisteningtothesongofEdith,stillplayinginthesunshine,and
whenatdinnertimeshefailedtoappearattheringingofthebell,andEdithwas
sentinquestofher,shefoundhersleepingquietly,dreamingoftheSwedish
babeandRichardHarrington.



CHAPTERIV.
RICHARDANDEDITH.

OnRichard’sdarkenedpathway,thereWASnowaglimmerofdaylight,shedby
EdithHastings’visit,andwithavaguehopethatshemightcomeagain,heon
themorrowgropedhiswaytothesummerhouse,andtakingtheseatwherehe
satthepreviousday,hewaitedandlistenedforthefootsteponthegrasswhich
shouldtellhimshewasnear.NordidhewaitlongereEdithcametrippingdown
thewalk,bringingthebouquetwhichGracehadpreparedwithsomuchcare.
“Hist!”droppedinvoluntarilyfromherlips,whenshedescriedhim,sittingjust
whereshehad,withoutknowingwhy,expectedsheshouldfindhim,andher
footfallsolightthatnonesavetheblindcouldhavedetectedit.
ToRichardtherewassomethinghalfamusing,halfridiculousintheconductof
thecapriciouschild,andforthesakeofknowingwhatshewoulddo,he
professedtobeignorantofherpresence,andleaningbackagainstthelattice,
pretendedtobeasleep,whileEdithcamesonearthathecouldhearherlow
breathingasshestoodstilltowatchhim.Nothingcouldpleasehermorethanhis
presentattitude,forwithhislargebrighteyesshutshedaredtolookathimas
muchandaslongshechose.Hewastohernowakindofdivinity,whichshe
worshippedforthesakeoftheSwedishbabyrescuedfromawaterygrave,and
shelongedtowindherarmsaroundhisneckandtellhimhowshelovedhimfor
thatact;butshedarednot,andshecontentedherselfwithwhisperingsoftly,“IfI
wasn’tsospunkyandugly,I’dprayeverynightthatGodwouldmakeyousee
again.Poorblindman.”
ItwouldbeimpossibletodescribethedeeppathosofEdith’svoiceassheuttered
thelastthreewords.Love,admiration,compassionandpity,allwereblendedin
thetone,anditisnotstrangethatittouchedanansweringchordintheheartof
the“poorblindman.”Slowlythebroadchestheaved,andtears,thefirsthehad
shedsincethefearfulmorningwhentheyledhimintothesunlighthefeltbut
couldnotsee,moistenedhislashes,anddroppeduponhisface.
“He’sdreamingabaddream,”Edithsaid,andwithherlittlechubbyhandshe


brushedhistearsaway,cautiously,lestsheshouldrousehimfromhisslumbers.
Softlysheputbackfromthewhiteforeheadhisglossyhair,takingherown
roundcombtosubdueanobduratelook,whilehewassurethatthefingersmade
morethanonepilgrimagetothelipsasthelittlebarberfoundmoisturenecessary
tohertask.
“There,Mr.Blindman,youlookrealnice,”shesaid,withanimmenseamountof
satisfaction,asshesteppedback,thebettertoinspectthewholeeffect.“I’llbet
you’llwonderwho’sbeenherewhenyouwakeup,butIshan’ttellyounow.
Maybe,though,I’llcomeagainto-morrow,”andplacingthebouquetinhis
hands,sheranaway.
Pausingforamoment,andlookingback,shesawRichardagainraisetohislips
herbouquet,andwithapalpitatingheart,asshethought,“whatifhewern’t
asleepafterall!”sheranonuntilBrierHillwasreached.
“Notanymessagethistimeeither?”saidGrace,whentoldthathehadkissedher
flowers,andthatwasall.
Stillthiswasproofthathewaspleased,andtheinfatuatedwomanpersistedin
preparingbouquets,whichEdithdailycarriedtoCollingwood,goingalwaysat
thesametime,andfindinghimalwaysinthesamespotwaitingforher.Asyet
nowordhadpassedbetweenthem,forEdith,wholikedthenoveltyoftheaffair,
wassolight-footedthatshegenerallymanagedtoslipthebouquetintohishand,
andrunawayerehehadtimetodetainher.Onemorning,however,nearthe
middleofOctober,when,owingtoabruisedheel,shehadnotbeentoseehim
formorethanaweek,hesatinhisaccustomedplace,half-expectingher,and
stillthinkinghowimprobableitwasthatshewouldcome.Hehadbecome
strangelyattachedtothelittleunknown,ashetermedher;hethoughtofherall
thedaylong,andwhen,inthechillyevening,hesatbeforetheglowinggrate,
listeningtothemonotonouswhisperingsofhisfather,hewishedsomuchthat
shewastherebesidehim.Hislifewouldnotbesodrearythen,forinthesociety
ofthatactive,playfulchild,heshouldforget,inpart,howmiserablehewas.She
wasblue-eyed,andgolden-haired,hethought,withsoft,abundantcurlsveiling
hersweetyoungface;andhepicturedtohimselfjusthowshewouldlook,
flittingthroughthehalls,anddancinguponthegreenswardnearthedoor,
“Butitcannotbe,”hemurmuredonthatOctobermorning,whenhesatalonein


hiswretchedness.“NothingI’vewishedformosthasevercometopass.Sorrow
hasbeenmybirthrightfromaboy.Acurseisrestinguponourhousehold,andall
aredoomedwhocomewithinitsshadow.FirstmyownmotherdiedjustwhenI
neededherthemost,thenthatgirlishwomanwhomIalsocalledmymother;
then,ourdarlingCharlie.Myfather’sreasonfollowednext,whileIam
hopelesslyblind.Oh,sometimesIwishthatIcoulddie.”
“Holdyourbreathwithallyourmight,andseeifyoucan’t,”saidthevoiceof
EdithHastings,whohadapproachedhimcautiously,andheardhissadsoliloquy.
Richardstarted,andstretchingouthislongarm,caughtthesleeveofthelittle
girl,who,findingherselfacaptive,ceasedtostruggle,andseatedherselfbeside
himasherequestedhertodo.
“Beyouholdingyourbreath?”sheasked,asforamomenthedidnotspeak,
addingashemadenoanswer,“Tellmewhenyou’redead,won’tyou?”
Richardlaughedaloud,ahearty,merrylaugh,whichstartledhimself,itwasso
likeanechoofthepast,erehishopeswerecrushedbycruelmisfortune.
“IdonotcaretodienowthatIhaveyou,”hesaid;“andifyou’dstaywithme
always,Ishouldneverbeunhappy.”
“Oh,wouldn’tthatbejolly,”criedEdith,usingherfavoriteexpression,“I’dread
toyou,andsingtoyou,onlyRachelsaysmysongsareweird-like,andqueer,
andmaybeyoumightnotlikethem;butI’dfixyourhair,andleadyouinthe
smoothplaceswhereyouwouldn’tjamyourheels;”andsheglancedruefullyat
oneofhers,boundupinacottonrag.“IwishIcouldcome,butMrs.Atherton
won’tletme,Iknow.Shethreatensmosteverydaytosendmebacktothe
Asylum,‘causeIactso.I’mherlittlewaiting-maid,EdithHastings.”
“Waitingmaid!”andthetoneofRichard’svoicewasindicativeofkeen
disappointment.
TheHarringtonswereveryproud,andRichardwouldoncehavescoffedatthe
ideaofbeingparticularlyinterestedinonesofarbelowhimasawaiting-maid.
Hehadneverthoughtofthisasapossibility,andthechildbesidehimwasNOT
ofquitesomuchconsequenceasshehadbeenbefore.Stillhewouldknow
somethingofherhistory,andheaskedherwhereshelived,andwhyshehad
broughthimsomanyflowers.


“IlivewithMrs.Atherton,”shereplied.“Shesenttheflowers,andifyou’ll
nevertellaslongasyouliveandbreathe,I’lltellyouwhatRachelsays.Rachel’s
anoldcoloredwoman,whousedtobeaniggerdownSouth,butshe’sfreenow,
andsaysMrs.Athertonlovesyou.Iguessshedoes,forshefaintedmostaway
thatdayIwenthomeandtoldheryouwereblind.”
“Mrs.Atherton!”andRichard’sfacegrewsuddenlydark.“WhoisMrs.
Atherton,child?”
“Oh-h-h!”laughedEdithdeprecatingly;“don’tyouknowher?She’sGrace
Atherton—thebiggestladyintown;sleepsinlinensheetsandpillowcasesevery
night,andwashesinabath-tubeverymorning.”
“GraceAtherton!”andEdithquailedbeneaththefieryglancebentuponherby
thoseblacksightlesseyes.“DidGraceAthertonsendtheseflowerstome?”and
thebright-huedblossomsdroppedinstantlyfromhishand.
“Yes,sir,shedid.Whatmakesyoutearso?Areyouinatantrum?”saidEdith,as
hesprangtohisfeetandbeganunsteadilytopacethesummer-house.
RichardHarringtonpossessedapeculiartemperament,GraceAthertonhad
woundedhispride,spurnedhislove,andheTHOUGHThehatedher,deemingit
amostunwomanlyactinhertomaketheseoverturesforareconciliation.This
waswhyheTOREso,asEdithhadexpressedit,butsoongrowingmorecalm,
hedeterminedtoconcealfromthequick-wittedchildthecauseofhisagitation,
andresuminghisseatbesideher,heaskedhermanyquestionsconcerningGrace
Athertonandherself,andashetalkedhefelthisoldeninterestsinhis
companiongraduallycomingback.Whatifshewerenowawaiting-maid,her
familymighthavebeengood,andheaskedhermanythingsofherearlylife.But
Edithcouldtellhimnothing.TheOrphanAsylumwasthefirsthomeofwhich
shehadanyvividremembrance,thoughitdidseemtohersheoncehadlived
wherethepurplegrapesweregrowingrichandripeuponthebroadvinestalk,
andwhereallthedaylongtherewasmusicsuchasshe’dneverheardsince,but
whichcamebacktohersometimesindreams,stayinglongenoughforherto
catchtheair.Hermother,thematrontoldher,haddiedinNewYork,andshe
wasbroughttotheAsylumbyawomanwhowouldkeepherfromstarvation.
ThiswasEdith’sstory,toldwithoutreserveortheslightestsuspicionthatthe
proudmanbesideherwouldthinkthelessofherbecauseshehadbeenpoorand
hungry.Neitherdidhe,afterthefirstshockhadwornaway;andhesoonfound


himselfwishingagainthatshewouldcomeupthereandlivewithhim.Shewas
astrange,oddchild,heknew,andhewonderedhowshelooked.Hedidnot
believeshewasgolden-hairedandblue-eyednow.Stillhewouldnotaskherlest
heshouldreceiveaseconddisappointment,forhewasapassionateadmirerof
femalebeauty,andhecouldnotrepressafeelingofaversionforanuglyface.
“IsMrs.Athertonhandsome?”hesuddenlyasked,rememberingthefresh,girlish
beautyofGraceElmendorff,andwishingtoknowifithadfaded.
“Oh,jolly,”saidEdith,“Iguesssheis.Suchsplendidbluehairandauburn
eyes.”
“Shemustbemagnificent,”returnedRichard,scarcelyrepressingasmile.“Give
hermycomplimentsandaskherifshe’swillingNOWtosharemyself-imposed
labor.Mind,don’tyouforgetaword,andgonow.I’llexpectyouagaintomorrowwithheranswer.”
HemadeagestureforEdithtoleave,andthoughshewantedsomuchtotellhim
howshelovedhimforsavingthatSwedishbaby,sheforboreuntilanothertime,
andranhastilyaway,repeatinghismessageassheranlestsheshouldforgetit.
“Senthiscompliments,andsaysaskyouifyou’rewillingtoshare,his—his—his
—sharehis—now—something—anyway,hewantsyoutocomeupthereand
live,andIdosohopeyou’llgo.Won’titbejolly?”sheexclaimed,ashalfoutof
breathsheburstintotheroomwhereGracesatreadingaletterreceivedbythe
morning’smail.
“Wantsmetowhat?”Graceasked,fancyingshehadnotheardaright,andas
Edithrepeatedthemessage,therestoleintoherheartawarm,happyfeeling,
suchasshehadnotexperiencedsincetheorangewreathcrownedhermaiden
brow.
Edithhadnottoldherexactlywhathesaid,sheknew,butitwassufficientthat
hecaredtoseeher,andsheresolvedtogratifyhim,butwithsomethingofher
oldencoquetryshewouldwaitawhileandmakehimthinkshewasnotcoming.
SoshesaidnomoretoEdithuponthesubject,buttoldherthatshewas
expectinghercousinArthurSt.Claire,astudentfromGenevaCollege,thathe
wouldbethereinadayortwo,andwhileheremainedatBrierHillshewished
Edithtotryandbehaveherself.


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