Part 11 out of 14
again for nearly an hour and a half. She was then surprised to find
him finishing a letter, resting his head on one hand, and looking wan,
weary, and very unhappy.
'Have you come to letter writing?'
'Yes,' he answered, in a worn, dejected tone, 'I must ask you to direct
this, I can't make it legible,'
No wonder, so much did his hand tremble, as he held out the envelope.
'To your sister?' she asked.
'No; to yours. I never wrote to her before. There's one enclosed to
your father, to tell all.'
'I am glad you have done it,' answered Amy, in a quiet tone of sincere
congratulation. 'You will be better now it is off your mind. But how
tired you are. You must go back to bed. Shall I call Arnaud?'
'I must rest first'--and his voice failing, he laid back on the sofa,
closed his eyes, turned ashy pale, and became so faint that she could
not leave him, and was obliged to apply every restorative within reach
before she could bring him back to a state of tolerable comfort.
The next minute her work was nearly undone, when Anne came in to ask
for the letters for the post. 'Shall I send yours?' asked Amy.
He muttered an assent. But when she looked back to him after speaking
to Anne, she saw a tremulous, almost convulsed working of the closed
eyes and mouth, while the thin hands were clenched together with a
force contrasting with the helpless manner in which they had hung a
moment before. She guessed at the intensity of anguish it mast cost a
temper so proud, a heart of so strong a mould, and feelings so deep, to
take the first irrevocable step in self-humiliation, giving up into the
hands of others the engagement that had hitherto been the cherished
treasure of his life; and above all, in exposing Laura to bear the
brunt of the penalty of the fault into which he had led her. 'Oh, for
Guy to comfort him,' thought she, feeling herself entirely incompetent,
dreading to intrude on his feelings, yet thinking it unkind to go away
without one sympathizing word when he was in such distress.
'You will be glad, in time,' at last she said. He made no answer.
She held the stimulants to him again, and tried to arrange him more
'Thank you,' at last he said. 'How is Guy?'
'He has just had another nice quiet sleep, and is quite refreshed.'
'That is a blessing, at least. But does not he want you? I have been
keeping you a long time?'
'Thank you, as he is awake, I should like to go back. You are better
'Yes, while I don't move.'
'Don't try. I'll send Arnaud, and as soon as you can, you had better
go to bed again.'
Guy was still awake, and able to hear what she had to tell him about
'Poor fellow!' said he. 'We must try to soften it.'
'Shall I write?' said Amy. 'Mamma will be pleased to hear of his
having told you, and they must be sorry for him, when they hear how
much the letter cost him.'
'Ah! they will not guess at half his sorrow.'
'I will write to papa, and send it after the other letters, so that he
may read it before he hears of Philip's.'
'Poor Laura!' said Guy. 'Could not you write a note to her too? I
want her to be told that I am very sorry, if I ever gave her pain by
speaking thoughtlessly of him.'
'Nay,' said Amy, smiling, 'you have not much to reproach yourself with
in that way. It was I that always abused him.'
'You can never do so again '
'No, I don't think I can, now I have seen his sorrow.'
Amabel was quite in spirits, as she brought her writing to his bed-
side, and read her sentences to him as she composed the letter to her
father, while he suggested and approved. It was a treat indeed to have
him able to consult with her once more, and he looked so much relieved
and so much better, that she felt as if it was the beginning of real
improvement, though still his pulse was fast, and the fever, though
lessened, was not gone.
The letter was almost as much his as her own, and he ended his
dictation thus: 'Say that I am sure that if I get better we may make
arrangements for their marriage.'
Then, as Amy was finishing the letter with her hopes of his amendment,
he added, speaking to her, and not dictating-- 'If not,'--she shrank
and shivered, but did not exclaim, for he looked so calm and happy that
she did not like to interrupt him-- 'If not, you know, it will be very
easy to put the money matters to rights, whatever may happen.'
It is your fault I have loved Posthumus;
You bred him as my playfellow; and he is
A man worth any woman, over-buys me
Almost the sum he pays.--CYMBELINE
The first tidings of Philip's illness arrived at Hollywell one morning
at breakfast, and were thus announced by Charles--
'There! So he has been and gone and done it.'
'What? Who? Not Guy?'
'Here has the Captain gone and caught a regular bad fever, in some
malaria hole; delirious, and all that sort of thing, and of course our
wise brother and sister must needs go and nurse him, by way of a pretty
little interlude in their wedding tour!'
Laura's voice alone was unheard in the chorus of inquiry. She sat
cold, stiff, and silent, devouring with her ears each reply, that fell
like a death-blow, while she was mechanically continuing the
occupations of breakfast. When all was told, she hurried to her own
room, but the want of sympathy was becoming intolerable. If Amabel had
been at home, she must have told her all. There was no one else; and
the misery to be endured in silence was dreadful. Her dearest--her
whole joy and hope--suffering, dying, and to hear all round her
speaking of him with kindness, indeed, but what to her seemed
indifference; blaming him for wilfulness, saying he had drawn it on
himself,--it seemed to drive her wild. She conjured up pictures of his
sufferings, and dreaded Guy's inexperience, the want of medical advice,
imagining everything that was terrible. Her idol, to whom her whole
soul was devoted, was passing from her, and no one pitied her; while
the latent consciousness of disobedience debarred her from gaining
solace from the only true source. All was blank desolation--a, wild
agony, untempered by resignation, uncheered by prayer; for though she
did pray, it was without trust, without hope, while her wretchedness
was rendered more overwhelming by her efforts to conceal it. These
were so far ineffectual that no one could help perceiving that she was
extremely unhappy, but then all the family knew she was very fond of
Philip, and neither her mother nor brother could be surprised at her
distress, though it certainly appeared to them excessive. Mrs.
Edmonstone was very sorry for her, and very affectionate and
considerate; but Laura was too much absorbed, in her own feelings to
perceive or to be grateful for her kindness; and as each day brought a
no better report, her despair became so engrossing that she could not
attempt any employment. She wandered in the garden, sat in dreamy fits
of silence in the house, and at last, after receiving one of the worst
accounts, sat up in her dressing-gown the whole of one night, in one
dull, heavy, motionless trance of misery.
She recollected that she must act her part, dressed in the morning and
came down; but her looks were ghastly; she tasted no food, and as soon
as possible left the breakfast-room. Her mother was going in quest of
her when old nurse came with an anxious face to say,--'Ma'am, I am
afraid Miss Edmonstone must be very ill, or something. Do you know,
ma'am, her bed has not been slept in all night?'
'You don't say so, nurse!'
'Yes, ma'am, Jane told me so, and I went to look myself. Poor child,
she is half distracted about Master Philip, and no wonder, for they
were always together; but I thought you ought to know, ma'am, for she
will make herself ill, to a certainty.'
'I am going to see about her this moment, nurse,' said Mrs. Edmonstone;
and presently she found Laura wandering up and down the shady walk, in
the restlessness of her despair.
'Laura, dearest,' said she, putting her arm round her, 'I cannot bear
to see you so unhappy.'
Laura did not answer; for though solitude was oppressive, every one's
presence was a burthen.
'I cannot think it right to give way thus,' continued her mother. 'Did
you really sit up all night, my poor child?'
'I don't know. They did so with him!'
'My dear, this will never do. You are making yourself seriously
'I wish--I wish I was ill; I wish I was dying!' broke from Laura,
almost unconsciously, in a hoarse, inward voice.
'My dear! You don't know what you are saying. You forget that this
self-abandonment, and extravagant grief would be wrong in any one; and,
if nothing else, the display is unbecoming in you.'
Laura's over-wrought feelings could bear no more, and in a tone which,
though too vehement to be addressed to a parent, had in it an agony
which almost excused it, by showing how unable she was to restrain
herself, she broke forth:-- 'Unbecoming! Who has a right to grieve for
him but me?--his own, his chosen,--the only one who can love him, or
understand him. Her voice died away in a sob, though without tears.
Her mother heard the words, but did not take in their full meaning;
and, believing that Laura's undeveloped affection had led her to this
uncontrolled grief, she spoke again, with coldness, intended to rouse
her to a sense that she was compromising her womanly dignity.
'Take care, Laura; a woman has no right to speak in such a manner of a
man who has given her no reason to believe in his preference of her.'
'Preference! It is his love!--his love! His whole heart! The one
thing that was precious to me in this world! Preference! You little
guess what we have felt for each other!'
'Laura!' Mrs. Edmonstone stood still, overpowered. 'What do you
mean?' She could not put the question more plainly.
'What have I done?' cried Laura. 'I have betrayed him!' she answered
herself in a tone of despair, as she hid her face in her hands;
'betrayed him when he is dying!'
Her mother was too much shocked to speak in the soft reluctant manner
in which she was wont to reprove.
'Laura,' said she, 'I must understand this. What has passed between
you and Philip?'
Laura only replied by a flood of tears, ungovernable from the
exhaustion of sleeplessness and want of food. Mrs. Edmonstone's
kindness returned; she soothed her, begged her to control herself, and
at length brought her into the house, and up to the dressing-room,
where she sank on the sofa, weeping violently. It was the reaction of
the long restraint she had been exercising on herself, and the silence
she had been maintaining. She was not feeling the humiliation, her own
acknowledgement of disobedience, but of the horror of being forced to
reveal the secret he had left in her charge.
Long did she weep, breaking out more piteously at each attempt of her
mother to lead her to explain. Poor Mrs. Edmonstone was alarmed and
perplexed beyond measure; this half confession had so overthrown all
her ideas that she was ready to apprehend everything most improbable,
and almost expected to hear of a private marriage. Her presence seemed
only to make Laura worse, and at length she said,--'I shall leave you
for half an hour, in hopes that by that time you may have recovered
yourself, and be able to give the explanation which I _require_.'
She went into her own room, and waited, with her eyes on her watch, a
prey to every strange alarm and anticipation, grievously hurt at this
want of confidence, and wounded, where she least expected it, by both
daughter and nephew. She thought, guessed, recollected, wondered,
tormented herself, and at the last of the thirty minutes, hastily
opened the door into the dressing-room. Laura sat as before, crouched
up in the corner of the wide sofa; and when she raised her face, at her
mother's entrance, it was bewildered rather than embarrassed.
'Well, Laura?' She waited unanswered; and the wretchedness of the look
so touched her, that, kissing her, she said, 'Surely, my dear, you need
not be afraid to tell me anything?'
Laura did not respond to the kindness, but asked, looking perplexed,
'What have I said? Have I told it?'
'What you have given me reason to believe,' said Mrs. Edmonstone,
trying to bring herself to speak it explicitly, 'that you think Philip
is attached to you. You do not deny it. Let me know on what terms you
Without looking up, she murmured, 'If you would not force it from me at
such a time.'
'Laura, it is for your own good. You are wretched now, my poor child;
why not relieve yourself by telling all? If you have not acted openly,
can you have any comfort till you have confessed? It may be a painful
effort, but relief will come afterwards.'
'I have nothing to confess,' said Laura. 'There is no such thing as
'Then what am I to understand by your exclamations?'
'It is no engagement,' repeated Laura. 'He would never have asked that
without papa's consent. We are only bound by our own hearts.'
'And you have a secret understanding with him?'
'We have never written to each other; we have never dreamed of any
intercourse that could be called clandestine. He would scorn it. He
waited only for his promotion to declare it to papa.'
'And how long has it been declared to you?'
'Ever since the first summer Guy was here.'
'Three years!' exclaimed her mother. 'You have kept this from me three
years! 0 Laura!'
'It was of no use to speak!' said Laura, faintly.
If she had looked up, she would have seen those words, 'no use,' cut
her mother more deeply than all; but there was only coldness in the
tone of the answer, 'No use to inform your parents, before you pledged
'Indeed, mamma,' said Laura, 'I was sure that you knew his worth.'
'Worth! when he was teaching you to live in a course of insincerity?
Your father will be deeply hurt.'
'Papa! Oh, you must not tell him! Now, I have betrayed him, indeed!
Oh, my weakness!' and another paroxysm of tears came on.
'Laura, you seem to think you owe nothing to any one but Philip. You
forget you are a daughter! that you have been keeping up a system of
disobedience and concealment, of which I could not have believed a
child of mine could be capable. 0 Laura, how you have abused our
Laura was touched by the sorrow of her tone; and, throwing her arms
round her neck, sobbed out, 'You will forgive me, only forgive him!'
Mrs. Edmonstone was softened in a moment. 'Forgive you, my poor child!
You have been very unhappy!' and she kissed her, with many tears.
'Must you tell papa?' whispered Laura.
'Judge for yourself, Laura. Could I know such a thing, and hide it
Laura ceased, seeing her determined, and yielded to her pity, allowing
herself to be nursed as she required, so exhausted was she. She was
laid on the sofa, and made comfortable with pillows, in her mother's
gentlest way. When Mrs. Edmonstone was called away, Laura held her
dress, saying, 'You are kind to me, but you must forgive him. Say you
have forgiven him, mamma, dearest!'
'My dear, in the grave all things are forgiven.'
She could not help saying so; but, feeling as if she had been cruel,
she added, 'I mean, while he is so ill, we cannot enter on such a
matter. I am very sorry for you,' proceeded she, still arranging for
Laura's ease; then kissing her, hoped she would sleep, and left her.
Sympathy was a matter of necessity to Mrs. Edmonstone; and as her
husband was out, she went at once to Charles, with a countenance so
disturbed, that he feared some worse tidings had come from Italy.
'No, no, nothing of that sort; it is poor Laura.'
'Eh?' said Charles, with a significant though anxious look, that caused
her to exclaim,--
'Surely you had no suspicion!'
Charlotte, who was reading in the window, trembled lest she should be
seen, and sent away.
'I suspected poor Laura had parted with her heart. But what do you
mean? What has happened?'
'Could you have guessed? but first remember how ill he is; don't be
violent, Charlie. Could you have guessed that they have been engaged,
ever since the summer we first remarked them?'
She had expected a great storm; but Charles only observed, very coolly,
'Oh! it is come out at last!'
'You don't mean that you knew it?'
'No, indeed, you don't think they would choose me for their confidant!'
'Not exactly,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, with the odd sort of laugh with
which even the most sensitive people, in the height of their troubles,
reply to anything ludicrous; 'but really,' she continued, 'every idea
of mine is so turned upside-down, that I don't know what to think of
'We always knew Laura to be his slave and automaton. He is so
infallible in her eyes, that no doubt she thought her silence an act of
'She was a mere child, poor dear,' said her mother; 'only eighteen!
Yet Amy was but a year older last summer. How unlike! She must have
known what she was doing.'
'Not with her senses surrendered to him, without volition of her own.
I wonder by what magnetism he allowed her to tell?'
'She has gone through a great deal, poor child, and I am afraid there
is much more for her to suffer, whether he recovers or not.'
'He will recover' said Charles, with the decided manner in which people
prophesy the restoration of those they dislike, probably from a feeling
that they must not die, till there is more charity in their opinion of
'Your father will be so grieved.'
'Well, I suppose we must begin to make the best of it,' said Charles.
'She has been as good as married to him these four years, for any use
she has been to us; it has been only the name of the thing, so he had
'My dear Charlie, what are you talking of? You don't imagine they can
'They will some time or other, for assuredly neither will marry any one
else. You will see if Guy does not take up the cause, and return
Philip's meddling--which, by the bye, is now shown to have been more
preposterous still--by setting their affairs in order for them.'
'Dear Guy, it is a comfort not to have been deceived in him!'
'Except when you believed Philip,' said Charles.
'Could anything have been more different?' proceeded Mrs. Edmonstone;
'yet the two girls had the same training.'
'With an important exception,' said Charles; 'Laura is Philip's pupil,
Amy mine; and I think her little ladyship is the best turned out of
'How shocked Amy will be! If she was but here, it would be much
better, for she always had more of Laura's confidence than I. Oh,
Charlie, there has been the error!' and Mrs. Edmonstone's eyes were
full of tears. 'What fearful mistake have I made to miss my daughter's
'You must not ask me, mother,' said Charles, face and voice full of
affectionate emotion. 'I know too well that I have been exacting and
selfish, taking too much advantage of your anxieties for me, and that
if you were not enough with my sisters when they were young girls, it
was my fault as much as my misfortune. But, after all, it has not hurt
Amy in the least; nor do I think it will hurt Charlotte.'
Charlotte did not venture to give way to her desire to kiss her mother,
and thank Charles, lest she should be exiled as an intruder.
'And,' proceeded Charles, serious, though somewhat roguish, 'I suspect
that no attention would have made much difference. You were always too
young, and Laura too much addicted to the physical sciences to get on
'A weak, silly mother, sighed Mrs. Edmonstone.
This was too much for Charlotte, who sprang forward, and flung her arms
round her neck, sobbing out,--
'Mamma! dear mamma! don't say such horrid things! No one is half so
wise or so good,--I am sure Guy thinks so too!'
At the same time Bustle, perceiving a commotion, made a leap, planted
his fore-feet on Mrs. Edmonstone's lap, wagging his tail vehemently,
and trying to lick her face. It was not in human nature not to laugh;
and Mrs. Edmonstone did so as heartily as either of the young ones;
indeed, Charlotte was the first to resume her gravity, not being sure
of her ground, and being hurt at her impulse of affection being thus
reduced to the absurd. She began to apologize,--
'Dear mamma, I could not help it. I thought you knew I wad in the
'My dear child,' and her mother kissed her warmly, 'I don't want to
hide anything from you. You are my only home-daughter now.' Then
recollecting her prudence, she proceeded,--'You are old enough to
understand the distress this insincerity of poor Laura's has
occasioned,--and now that Amy is gone, we must look to you to comfort
Did ever maiden of fourteen feel more honoured, and obliged to be very
good and wise than Charlotte, as she knelt by her mother's side?
Happily tact was coming with advancing years, and she did not attempt
to mingle in the conversation, which was resumed by Charles observing
that the strangest part of the affair was the incompatibility of so
novelish and imprudent a proceeding with the cautious, thoughtful
character of both parties. It was, he said, analogous to a pentagon
flirting with a hexagon; whereas Guy, a knight of the Round Table, in
name and nature, and Amy, with her little superstitions, had been
attached in the most matter-of-fact, hum-drum way, and were in a course
of living very happy ever after, for which nature could never have
designed them. Mrs. Edmonstone smiled, sighed, hoped they were
prudent, and wondered whether camphor and chloride of lime were
attainable at Recoara.
Laura came down no more that day, for she was worn out with agitation,
and it was a relief to be sufficiently unwell to be excused facing her
father and Charles. She had little hope that Charlotte had not heard
all; but she might seem to believe her ignorant, and could, therefore,
endure her waiting on her, with an elaborate kindness and compassion,
and tip-toe silence, far beyond the deserts of her slight
In the evening, Charles and his mother broke the tidings to Mr.
Edmonstone as gently as they could, Charles feeling bound to be the
cool, thinking head in the family. Of course Mr. Edmonstone stormed,
vowed that he could not have believed it, then veered round, and said
he could have predicted it from the first. It was all mamma's fault
for letting him be so intimate with the girls--how was a poor lad to be
expected not to fall in love? Next he broke into great wrath at the
abuse of his confidence, then at the interference with Guy, then at the
intolerable presumption of Philip's thinking of Laura. He would soon
let him know what he thought of it! When reminded of Philip's present
condition, he muttered an Irish imprecation on the fever for
interfering with his anger, and abused the 'romantic folly' that had
carried Guy to nurse him at Recoara. He was not so much displeased
with Laura; in fact he thought all young ladies always ready to be
fallen in love with, and hardly accountable for what their lovers might
make them do, and he pitied her heartily, when he heard of her sitting
up all night. Anything of extravagance in love met with sympathy from
him, and there was no effort in his hearty forgiveness of her. He
vowed that she should give the fellow up, and had she been present,
would have tried to make her do so at a moment's warning; but in
process of time he was convinced that he must not persecute her while
Philip was in extremity, and though, like Charles, he scorned the
notion of his death, and, as if it was an additional crime, pronounced
him to be as strong as a horse, he was quite ready to put off all
proceedings till his recovery, being glad to defer the evil day of
making her cry.
So when Laura ventured out, she met with nothing harsh; indeed, but for
the sorrowful kindness of her family towards her, she could hardly have
guessed that they knew her secret.
Her heart leapt when Amabel's letter was silently handed to her, and
she saw the news of Philip's amendment, but a sickening feeling
succeeded, that soon all forbearance would be at an end, and he must
hear that her weakness had betrayed his secret. For the present,
however, nothing was said, and she continued in silent dread of what
each day might bring forth, till one afternoon, when the letters had
been fetched from Broadstone, Mrs. Edmonstone, with an exclamation of
dismay, read aloud:--
'Recoara, September 8th.
'DEAREST MAMMA,--Don't be very much frightened when I tell you that Guy
has caught the fever. He has been ailing since Sunday, and yesterday
became quite ill; but we hope it will not be so severe an illness as
Philip's was. He sleeps a great deal, and is in no pain, quite
sensible when he is awake. Arnaud is very useful, and so is Anne; and
he is so quiet at night, that he wants no one but Arnaud, and will not
let me sit up with him. Philip is better.
'Your most affectionate,
The reading was followed by a dead silence, then Mr. Edmonstone said he
had always known how it would be, and what would poor Amy do?
Mrs. Edmonstone was too unhappy to answer, for she could see no means
of helping them. Mr. Edmonstone was of no use in a sick-room, and she
had never thought it possible to leave Charles. It did not even occur
to her that she could do so till Charles himself suggested that she
must go to Amy.
'Can you spare me?' said she, as if it was a new light.
'Why not? Who can be thought of but Amy? She ought not to be a day
longer without you.'
'Dr. Mayerne would look in on you,' said she, considering, 'and Laura
can manage for you.'
'Oh, I shall do very well. Do you think I could bear to keep you from
'Some one must go,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, 'and even if I could think of
letting Laura run the risk, this unhappy affair about Philip puts her
going out of the question.'
'No one but you can go, said Charles; 'it is of no use to talk of
It was settled that if the next account was not more favourable, Mr.
and Mrs. Edmonstone should set off for Recoara. Laura heard, in
consternation at the thought of her father's meeting Philip, still weak
and unwell, without her, and perhaps with Guy too ill to be consulted.
And oh! what would Philip think of her? Her weakness had disclosed his
secret, and sunk her beneath him, and he must hear it from others. She
felt as if she could have thrown herself at her mother's feet as she
implored her to forbear, to spare him, to spare her. Her mother pitied
her incoherent distress, but it did not make her feel more in charity
with Philip. She would not promise that the subject should, not be
discussed, but she tried to reassure Laura by saying that nothing
should be done that could retard his recovery.
With this Laura was obliged to content herself; and early the second
morning, after the letter arrived, she watched the departure of her
father and mother.
She had expected to find the care of Charles very anxious work, but she
prospered beyond her hopes. He was very kind and considerate, and both
he and Charlotte were so sobered by anxiety, that there was no fear of
their spirits overpowering her.
Mary Ross used to come almost every afternoon to inquire. One day she
found Charles alone, crutching himself slowly along the terrace, and
she thought nothing showed the forlorn state of the family so much as
to see him out of doors with no one for a prop.
'Mary! Just as I wanted you!'
'What account?' said she, taking the place of one of the crutches.
'Excellent; the fever and drowsiness seem to be going off. It must
have been a light attack, and the elders will hardly come in time for
mamma to have any nursing. So there's Guy pretty well off one's mind.'
'This was such a long letter, and so cheerful, that she must be all
right. What I wanted to speak to you about was Laura. You know the
state of things. Well, the captain--I wish he was not so sorry, it
deprives one of the satisfaction of abusing him--the captain, it seems,
was brought to his senses by his illness, confessed all to Guy, and now
has written to tell the whole truth to my father.'
'Has he? That is a great relief!'
'Not that I have seen his letter; Laura ran away with it, and has not
said a word of it. I know it from one to papa from Amy, trying to make
the best of it, and telling how thoroughly he is cut up. She says he
all but fainted after writing. Fancy that poor little thing with a
great man, six foot one, fainting away on her hands!'
'I thought he was pretty well again.'
'He must be to have written at all, and a pretty tolerably bitter pill
it must have been to set about it. What a thing for him to have had to
tell Guy, of all people--I do enjoy that! So, of course, Guy takes up
his cause, and sends a message, that is worth anything, as showing he
is himself better, though in any one else it would be a proof of
delirium. My two brothers-in-law might sit for a picture of the
'Then you think Mr. Edmonstone will consent?'
'To be sure; we shall have him coming home, saying--
It is a fine thing to be father in-law
To a very magnificent three-tailed bashaw.
He will never hold out against Guy and Amy, and Philip will soon set up
a patent revolver, to be turned by the little god of love on the newest
'Where is Laura?' said Mary, smiling.
'I turned her out to walk with Charlotte, and I want some counsel, as
mamma says I know nothing of lovers.'
'Because I know so much?'
'You know feminine nature I want to know what is the best thing to do
for Laura. Poor thing! I can't bear to see her look so wretched,
worrying herself with care of me. I have done the best I could by
taking Charlotte's lessons, and sending her out to mope alone, as she
likes best; but I wish you would tell me how to manage her.'
'I know nothing better for her than waiting on you.'
'That's hard,' said Charles, 'that having made the world dance
attendance on me for my pleasure, I must now do it for theirs. But
what do you think about telling her of this letter, or showing it,
remembering that not a word about her troubles has passed between us?'
'By all means tell her. You must judge about showing it, but I should
think the opening for talking to her on the subject a great gain.'
'Should you? What, thinking as I do of the man? Should I not be
between the horns of a dilemma if I had to speak the honest truth, yet
not hurt her feelings?'
'She has been so long shut up from sympathy, that any proof of kindness
must be a comfort.'
'Well, I should like to do her some good, but it will be a mercy, if
she does not make me fall foul of Philip! I can get up a little
Christian charity, when my father or Charlotte rave at him, but I can't
stand hearing him praised. I take the opportunity of saying so while I
can, for I expect he will come home as her betrothed, and then we shall
not be able to say one word.'
'No, I dare say he will be so altered and subdued that you will not be
so disposed to rail. This confession is a grand thing. Good-bye I
must get back to church. Poor Laura! how busy she has been about her
sketch there lately.'
'Yes, she has been eager about finishing it ever since Guy began to be
ill. Good-bye. Wish me well through my part of confidant to-night.
It is much against the grain, though I would give something to cheer up
my poor sister.'
'I am sure you would,' thought Mary to herself, as she looked back at
him: 'what a quantity of kind, right feeling there in under that odd,
dry manner, that strives to appear to love nothing but a joke.'
As soon as Charlotte was gone to bed, Charles, in accordance with his
determination, said to Laura,--
'Have you any fancy for seeing Amy's letter?'
'Thank you;' and, without speaking, Laura took it. He forbore to watch
her expression as she read. When she had finished, her face was fixed
in silent unhappiness.
'He has been suffering a great deal, I am sure,' said Charles, kindly.
It was the first voluntary word of compassion towards Philip that Laura
had heard, and it was as grateful as unexpected. Her face softened,
and tears gushed from her eyes as she said,--
'You do not know how much. There he is grieving for me! thinking they
will be angry with me, and hurting himself with that! Oh! if this had
but come before they set off!'
'Guy and Amy will tell them of his having written.'
'Dear, dear Guy and Amy! He speaks so earnestly of their kindness. I
don't fear it so much now he and Guy understand each other.'
Recollecting her love, Charles refrained, only saying, 'You can rely on
their doing everything to make it better.'
'I can hardly bear to think of what we owe to them,' said Laura. 'How
glad I am that Amy was there after he wrote, when he was so much
overcome! Amy has written me such a very kind note; I think you must
see that--it is so like her own dear self.'
She gave it to him, and he read:--
'MY DEAREST,--I never could tell you before how we have grieved for you
ever since we knew it. I am so sorry I wrote such dreadful accounts;
and Guy says he wants to ask your pardon, if he ever said anything that
pained you about Philip. I understand all your unhappiness now, my
poor dear; but it will be better now it is known. Don't be reserved,
with Charlie, pray; for if he sees you are unhappy, he will be so very
kind. I have just seen Philip again, and found him rested and better.
He is only anxious about you; but I tell him I know you will be glad it
'Your most affectionate sister,
'A. F. M.'
'Laura' said Charles, finishing the letter, 'Amy gives you very good
advice, as far as I am concerned. I do want to be of as much use to
you as I can--I mean as kind.'
'I know--I know; thank you,' said Laura, struggling with her tears.
'You have been--you are; but--'
'Ay,' thought Charles, 'I see, she won't be satisfied, if my kindness
includes her alone. What will my honesty let me say to please her?
Oh! I know.--You must not expect me to say that Philip has, behaved
properly, Laura, nothing but being in love could justify such a
delusion; but I do say that there is greatness of mind in his
confessing it, especially at a time when he could put it off, and is so
unequal to agitation.'
It was the absence of any tone of satire that made this speech come
home to Laura as it was meant. There was no grudging in the praise,
and she answered, in a very low, broken voice,--
'You will think so still more when you see this note, which he sent
open, inside mine, to be given to papa when I had told my own story.
Oh, his considerateness for me!'
She gave it to him. The address, 'C. Edmonstone, Esq.,' was a mere
scrawl, and within the writing was very trembling and weak. Charles
remarked it, and she answered by saying that her own letter began in
his own strong hand, but failed and grew shaky at the end, as if from
fatigue and agitation. The words were few, brief, and simple, very
unlike his usual manner of letter-writing.
'MY DEAR UNCLE,--My conduct has been unjustifiable--I feel it. Do not
visit it on Laura--I alone should suffer. I entreat your pardon, and
my aunt's, and leave all to you. I will write more at length. Be kind
to her.--Yours affectionately,
'Poor Philip!' said Charles, really very much touched. From that
moment, Laura no longer felt completely isolated, and deprived of
sympathy. She sat by Charles till late that night, and told him the
whole history of her engagement, much relieved by the outpouring of her
long-hidden griefs, and comforted by his kindness, though he could not
absolutely refrain from words and gestures of censure. It was as
strange that Charles should be the first person to whom Laura told this
history, as that Guy should have been Philip's first confidant.
There is a Rock, and nigh at hand,
A shadow in a weary land,
Who in that stricken Rock hath rest,
Finds water gushing from its breast.--NEALE
In the meantime the days passed at Recoara without much change for the
better or worse. After the first week, Guy's fever had diminished; his
pulse was lower, the drowsiness ceased, and it seemed as if there was
nothing to prevent absolute recovery. But though each morning seemed
to bring improvement, it never lasted; the fever, though not high,
could never be entirely reduced, and strength was perceptibly wasting,
in spite of every means of keeping it up.
There was not much positive suffering, very little even of headache,
and he was cheerful, though speaking little, because he was told not to
excite or exhaust himself. Languor and lassitude were the chief causes
of discomfort; and as his strength failed, there came fits of
exhaustion and oppression that tried him severely. At first, these
were easily removed by stimulants; but remedies seemed to lose their
effect, and the sinking was almost death-like.
'I think I could bear acute pain better!' he said one day; and more
than once the sigh broke from him almost unconsciously,--'Oh for one
breath of Redclyffe sea-wind!' Indeed, it seemed as if the close air
of the shut-in-valley, at the end of a long hot day was almost enough
to overwhelm him, weak as he had become. Every morning, when Amabel
let in the fresh breeze at the window, she predicted it would be a cool
day, and do him good; every afternoon the wind abated, the sun shone
full in, the room was stifling, the faintness came on, and after a few
vain attempts at relieving it, Guy sighed that there was nothing for it
but quiet, and Amy was obliged to acquiesce. As the sun set, the
breeze sprung up, it became cooler, he fell asleep, awoke revived, was
comfortable all the evening, and Amy left him at eleven or twelve, with
hopes of his having a good night.
It seemed to her as if ages had passed in this way, when one evening
two letters were brought in.
'From mamma!' said she; 'and this one,' holding it up, 'is for you. It
must have been hunting us everywhere. How many different directions!'
'From Markham,' said Guy. 'It must be the letter we were waiting for.'
The letter to tell them Redclyffe was ready to receive them! Amabel
put it down with a strange sensation, and opened her mother's. With a
start of joy she exclaimed--
'They are coming--mamma and papa!'
'Then all is right!'
'If we do not receive a much better account,' read Amy, 'we shall set
off early on Wednesday, and hope to be with you not long after you
receive this letter.'
'Oh I am so glad! I wonder how Charlie gets on without her.'
'It is a great comfort,' said Guy.
'Now you will see what a nurse mamma is!'
'Now you will be properly cared for.'
'How nice it will be! She will take care of you all night, and never
be tired, and devise everything I am too stupid for, and make you so
'Nay, no one could do that better than you, Amy. But it is joy indeed-
-to see mamma again--to know you are safe with her. Everything comes
to make it easy!' The last words were spoken very low; and she did not
disturb him by saying anything till he asked about the rest of the
letter, and desired her to read Markham's to him.
This cost her some pain, for it had been written in ignorance of even
Philip's illness, and detailed triumphantly the preparations at
Redclyffe, hinting that they must send timely notice of their return,
or they would disappoint the tenantry, who intended grand doings, and
concluding with a short lecture on the inexpediency of lingering in
'Poor Markham,' said Guy.
She understood; but these things did not come on her like a shock now,
for he had been saying them more or less ever since the beginning of
his illness; and fully occupied as she was, she never opened her mind
to the future. After a long silence, Guy said--
'I am very sorry for him. I have been making Arnaud write to him for
'Oh, have you?'
'It was better for you not to do it, Arnaud has written for me at
night. You will send it, Amy, and another to my poor uncle.'
'Very well,' said she, as he looked at her.
'I have told Markham,' said he presently, 'to send you my desk. There
are all sorts of things in it, just as I threw them in when I cleared
out my rooms at Oxford. I had rather nobody but you saw some of them.
There is nothing of any importance, so you may look at them when you
please, or not at all.'
She gazed at him without answering. If there had been any struggle to
retain him, it would have been repressed by his calmness; but the
thought had not come on her suddenly, it was more like an inevitable
fate seen at first at a distance, and gradually advancing upon her.
She had never fastened on the hope of his recovery, and it had dwindled
in an almost imperceptible manner. She kept watch over him, and
followed his thoughts, without stretching her mind to suppose herself
living without him; and was supported by the forgetfulness of self,
which gave her no time to realize her feelings.
'I should like to have seen Redclyffe bay again,' said Guy, after a
space. 'Now that mamma is coming, that is the one thing. I suppose I
had set my heart on it, for it comes back to me how I reckoned on
standing on that rock with you, feeling the wind, hearing the surge,
looking at the meeting of earth and sky, and the train of sunlight.'
He spoke slowly, pausing between each recollection,--'You will see it
some day,' he added. 'But I must give it up; it is earth after all,
and looking back.'
Through the evening, he seemed to be dwelling on thoughts of his own,
and only spoke to tell her of some message to friends at Redclyffe, or
Hollywell, to mention little Marianne Dixon, or some other charge that
he wished to leave. She thought he had mentioned almost every one with
whom he had had any interchange of kindness at either of his homes,
even to old nurse at Hollywell, remembering them all with quiet
pleasure. At half-past eleven, he sent her to bed, and she went
submissively, cheered by thinking him likely to sleep.
As soon as she could conscientiously call the night over, she returned
to him, and was received with one of the sweet, sunny, happy looks that
had always been his peculiar charm, and, of late, had acquired an
expression almost startling from their very beauty and radiance. It
was hardly to be termed a smile, for there was very little, if any,
movement of the lips, it was more like the reflection of some glory
upon the whole countenance.
'You have had a good night?' she said.
'I have had my wish, I have seen Redclyffe;' then, seeing her look
startled, 'Of course, it was a sort of wandering; but I never quite
lost the consciousness of being here, and it was very delightful. I
saw the waves, each touched with light,--the foam--the sea-birds,
floating in shade and light,--the trees--the Shag--the sky--oh! such a
glory as I never knew--themselves--but so intensely glorious!'
'I am glad' said Amabel, with a strange participation of the delight it
had given him.
'I don't understand such goodness!' he continued. 'As if it were not
enough to look to heaven beyond, to have this longing gratified, which
I thought I ought to conquer. Oh, Amy! is not that being Fatherly!'
'Now after that, and with mamma's coming (for you will have her if I
don't see her), I have but one wish unfulfilled.'
'Ah! a clergyman.'
'Yes, but if that is withheld, I must believe it is rightly ordered.
We must think of that Sunday at Stylehurst and Christmas-day, and that
last time at Munich.'
'Oh, I am so glad we stayed at Munich for that!'
'Those were times, indeed! and many more. Yes; I have been a great
deal too much favoured already, and now to be allowed to die just as I
should have chosen--'
He broke off to take what Amabel was preparing for him, and she felt
his pulse. There was fever still, which probably supplied the place of
strength, for he said he was very comfortable, and his eyes were as
bright as ever; but the beats were weak and fluttering, and a thrill
crossed her that it might be near; but she must attend to him, and
could not think.
When it was time for her to go down to breakfast with Philip, Guy said,
'Do you think Philip could come to me to-day? I want much to speak to
'I am sure he could.'
'Then pray ask him to come, if it will not tire him very much.'
Philip had, the last two mornings, risen in time to breakfast with
Amabel, in the room adjoining his own; he was still very weak, and
attempted no more than crossing the room, and sitting in the balcony to
enjoy the evening air. He had felt the heat of the weather severely,
and had been a good deal thrown back by his fatigue and agitation the
day he wrote the letter, while also anxiety for Guy was retarding his
progress, though he only heard the best side of his condition. Besides
all this, his repentance both for his conduct with regard to Laura and
the hard measure he had dealt to Guy was pressing on him increasingly;
and the warm feelings, hardened and soured by early disappointment,
regained their force, and grew into a love and admiration that made it
still more horrible to perceive that he had acted ungenerously towards
When he heard of Guy's desire to see him, he was pleased, said he was
quite able to walk up-stairs, had been thinking of offering to help her
by sitting with him, and was very glad to hear he was well enough to
wish for a visit. She saw she must prepare him for what the
conversation was likely to be.
'He is very anxious to see you,' she said. 'He is wishing to set all
in order. And if he does speak about--about dying, will you be so kind
as not to contradict him?'
'There is no danger?' cried Philip, startling, with a sort of agony.
'He is no worse? You said the fever was lower.'
'He is rather better, I think; but he wishes so much to have everything
arranged, that I am sure it will be better for him to have it off his
mind. So, will you bear it, please, Philip?' ended she, with an
imploring look, that reminded him of her childhood.
'How do you bear it?' he asked.
'I don't know--I can't vex him.'
Philip said no more, and only asked when he should come.
'In an hour's time, perhaps, or whenever he was ready,' she said, 'for
he could rest in the sitting-room before coming in to Guy.'
He found mounting the stairs harder than he had expected, and, with
aching knees and gasping breath, at length reached the sitting-room,
where Amabel was ready to pity him, and made him rest on the sofa till
he had fully recovered. She then conducted him in; and his first
glance gave him infinite relief, for he saw far less change than was
still apparent in himself. Guy's face was at all times too thin to be
capable of losing much of its form, and as he was liable to be very
much tanned, the brown, fixed on his face by the sunshine of his
journey had not gone off, and a slight flush on his cheeks gave him his
ordinary colouring; his beautiful hazel eyes were more brilliant than
ever; and though the hand he held out was hot and wasted, Philip could
not think him nearly as ill as he had been himself, and was ready to
let him talk as he pleased. He was reassured, too, by his bright
smile, and the strength of his voice, as he spoke a few playful words
of welcome and congratulation. Amy set a chair, and with a look to
remind Philip to be cautious, glided into her own room, leaving the
door open, so as to see and hear all that passed, for they were not fit
to be left absolutely alone together.
Philip sat down; and after a little pause Guy began:
'There were a few things I wanted to say, in case you should be my
successor at Redclyffe.'
A horror came over Philip; but he saw Amy writing at her little table,
and felt obliged to refrain.
'I don't think of directing you,' said Guy, 'You will make a far better
landlord than I; but one or two things I should like.'
'Anything you wish!'
'Old Markham. He has old-world notions and prejudices, but his soul is
in the family and estate. His heart will be half broken, for me, and
if he loses his occupation, he will be miserable. Will you bear with
him, and be patient while he lives, even if he is cross and absurd in
his objections, and jealous of all that is not me?'
'Thank you. Then there is Coombe Prior. I took Wellwood's pay on
myself. Will you? And I should like him to have the living. Then
there is the school to be built; and I thought of enclosing that bit of
waste, to make gardens for the people; but that you'll do much better.
Well; don't you remember when you were at Redclyffe last year' (Philip
winced) 'telling Markham that bit of green by Sally's gate ought to be
taken into the park? I hope you won't do that, for it is the only
place the people have to turn out their cows and donkeys. And you
won't cut them off from the steps from the Cove, for it saves the old
people from being late for church? Thank you. As to the rest, it is
pleasant to think it will be in such hands if--'
That 'if' gave Philip some comfort, though it did not mean what he
fancied. He thought of Guy's recovery; Guy referred to the possibility
of Amabel's guardianship.
'Amy has a list of the old people who have had so much a week, or their
cottages rent-free,' said Guy. 'If it comes to you, you will not let
them feel the difference? And don't turn off the old keeper Brown; he
is of no use, but it would kill him. And Ben Robinson, who was so
brave in the shipwreck, a little notice now and then would keep him
straight. Will you tell him I hope he will never forget that morning-
service after the wreck? He may be glad to think of it when he is as I
am now. You tell him, for he will mind more what comes from a man.'
All this had been spoken with pauses for recollection, and for Philip's
signs of assent. Amabel came to give him some cordial; and as soon as
she had retreated he went on:--
'My poor uncle; I have written--that is, caused Arnaud to write to him.
I hope this may sober him; but one great favour I have to ask of you.
I can't leave him money, it would only be a temptation; but will you
keep an eye on him, and let Amy rely on you to tell her when to help
him I can't ask any one else, and she cannot do it for herself; but
you would do it well. A little kindness might save him; and you don't
know how generous a character it is, run to waste. Will you undertake
'To be sure I will!'
'Thank you very much. You will judge rightly; but he has delicate
feelings. Yes, really; and take care you don't run against them.'
Another silence followed; after which Guy said, smiling with his
natural playfulness, 'One thing more. You are the lawyer of the
family, and I want a legal opinion. I have been making Arnaud write my
will. I have wished Miss Wellwood of St. Mildred's to have some money
for a sisterhood she wants to establish. Now, should I leave it to
herself or name trustees?'
Philip heard as if a flash of light was blinding him, and he
interrupted, with an exclamation:--
'Tell me one thing! Was that the thousand pounds?'
'Yes. I was not at liberty to--'
He stopped, for he was unheard. At the first word Philip had sunk on
his knees, hiding his face on the bed-clothes, in an agony of self-
abasement, before the goodness he had been relentlessly persecuting.
'It was that?' he said, in a sort of stifled sob. 'Oh, can you forgive
He could not look up; but he felt Guy's hand touch his head, and heard
him say, 'That was done long ago. Even as you pardoned my fierce rage
against you, which I trust is forgiven above. It has been repented!'
As he spoke there was a knock at the door, and, with the instinctive
dread of being found in his present posture, Philip sprang to his feet.
Amabel went to the door, and was told that the physician was down-
stairs with two gentlemen; and a card was given her, on which she read
the name of an English clergyman.
'There, again!' said Guy. 'Everything comes to me. Now it is all
Amabel was to go and speak to them, and Guy would see Mr. Morris, the
clergyman, as soon as the physician had made his visit. 'You must not
go down,' he then said to Philip. 'You will wait in the sitting-room,
won't you? We shall want you again, you know,' and his calm brightness
was a contrast to Philip's troubled look. 'All is clear between us
now,' he added, as Philip turned away.
Long ago, letters had been written to Venice, begging that if an
English clergyman should travel that way he might be told how earnestly
his presence was requested; this was the first who had answered the
summons. He was a very young man, much out of health, and travelling
under the care of a brother, who was in great dread of his doing
anything to injure himself. Amabel soon perceived that, though kind
and right-minded, he could not help them, except as far as his office
was concerned. He was very shy, only just in priest's orders; he told
her he had never had this office to perform before, and seemed almost
to expect her to direct him; while his brother was so afraid of his
over-exerting himself, that she could not hope he would take charge of
However, after the physician had seen Guy, she brought Mr. Morris to
him, and came forward, or remained in her room, according as she was
wanted. She thought her husband's face was at each moment acquiring
more unearthly beauty, and feeling with him, she was raised above
thought or sensation of personal sorrow.
When the first part of the service was over, and she exchanged a few
words, out of Guy's hearing, with Mr. Morris, he said to her, as from
the very fullness of his heart, 'One longs to humble oneself to him.
How it puts one to shame to hear such repentance with such a
The time came when Philip was wanted. Amabel had called in Anne and
the clergyman's brother, and went to fetch her cousin. He was where
she had left him in the sitting-room, his face hidden in his arms,
crossed on the table, the whole man crushed, bowed down, overwhelmed
'We are ready. Come, Philip.'
'I cannot; I am not worthy,' he answered, not looking up.
'Nay, you are surely in no uncharitableness with him now,' said she,
A shudder expressed his no.
'And if you are sorry--that is repentance--more fit now than ever--
Won't you come? Would you grieve him now?'
'You take it on yourself, then,' said Philip, almost sharply, raising
his haggard face.
She did not shrink, and answered, 'A broken and contrite heart, 0 God,
Thou wilt not despise.'
It was a drop of balm, a softening drop. He rose, and trembling from
head to foot, from the excess of his agitation, followed her into Guy's
The rite was over, and stillness succeeded the low tones, while all
knelt in their places. Amabel arose first, for Guy, though serene,
looked greatly exhausted, and as she sprinkled him with vinegar, the
others stood up. Guy looked for Philip, and held out his hand.
Whether it was his gentle force, or of Philip's own accord Amabel could
not tell; but as he lay with that look of perfect peace and love,
Philip bent down over him and kissed his forehead.
'Thank you!' he faintly whispered. 'Good night. God bless you and my
Philip went, and he added to Amy, 'Poor fellow! It will be worse for
him than for you. You must take care of him.'
She hardly heard the last words, for his head sunk on one side in a
deathlike faintness, the room was cleared of all but herself, and Anne
fetched the physician at once.
At length it passed off, and Guy slept. The doctor felt his pulse, and
she asked his opinion of it. Very low and unequal, she was told: his
strength was failing, and there seemed to be no power of rallying it,
but they must do their best to support him with cordials, according to
the state of his pulse. The physician could not remain all night
himself, but would come as soon as he could on the following day.
Amabel hardly knew when it was that he went away; the two Mr. Morrises
went to the other hotel; and she made her evening visit to Philip. It
was all like a dream, which she could afterwards scarcely remember,
till night had come on, and for the first time she found herself
allowed to keep watch over her husband.
He had slept quietly for some time, when she roused him to give him
some wine, as she was desired to do constantly. He smiled, and said,
'Is no one here but you?'
'My own sweet wife, my Verena, as you have always been. We have been
very happy together.'
'Indeed we have,' said she, a look of suffering crossing her face, as
she thought of their unclouded happiness. 'It will not be so long
before we meet again.'
'A few months, perhaps'--said Amabel, in a stifled voice, 'like your
'No, don't wish that, Amy. You would not wish it to have no mother.'
'You will pray--' She could say no more, but struggled for calmness.
'Yes,' he answered, 'I trust you to it and to mamma for comfort. And
Charlie--I shall not rob him any longer. I only borrowed you for a
little while,' he added, smiling. 'In a little while we shall meet.
Years and months seem alike now. I am sorry to cause you so much
grief, my Amy, but it is all as it should be, and we have been very
Amy listened, her eyes intently fixed on him, unable to repress her
agitation, except by silence. After some little time, he spoke again.
'My love to Charlie--and Laura--and Charlotte, my brother and sisters.
How kindly they have made me one of them! I need not ask Charlotte to
take care of Bustle, and your father will ride Deloraine. My love to
him, and earnest thanks, for you above all, Amy. And dear mamma! I
must look now to meeting her in a brighter world; but tell her how I
have felt all her kindness since I first came in my strangeness and
grief. How kind she was! how she helped me and led me, and made me
know what a mother was. Amy, it will not hurt you to hear it was your
likeness to her that first taught me to love you. I have been so very
happy, I don't understand it.'
He was again silent, as in contemplation, and Amabel's overcoming
emotion had been calmed and chastened down again, now that it was no
longer herself that was spoken of. Both were still, and he seemed to
sleep a little. When next he spoke, it was to ask if she could repeat
their old favourite lines in "Sintram". They came to her lips, and she
repeated them in a low, steady voice.
When death, is coming near,
And thy heart shrinks in fear,
And thy limbs fail,
Then raise thy hands and pray
To Him who smooths the way
Through the dark vale.
Seest thou the eastern dawn!
Hear'st thou, in the red morn,
The angel's song?
Oh! lift thy drooping head,
Thou, who in gloom and dread
Hast lain so long.
Death comes to set thee free,
Oh! meet him cheerily,
As thy true friend
And all thy fears shall cease,
And In eternal peace
Thy penance end.
'In eternal peace,' repeated Guy; 'I did not think it would have been
so soon. I can't think where the battle has been. I never thought my
life could be so bright. It was a foolish longing, when first I was
ill, for the cool waves of Redclyffe bay and that shipwreck excitement,
if I was to die. This is far better. Read me a psalm, Amy, "Out of
There was something in his perfect happiness that would not let her
grieve, though a dull heavy sense of consternation was growing on her.
So it went on through the night--not a long, nor a dreary one--but more
like a dream. He dozed and woke, said a few tranquil words, and
listened to some prayer, psalm, or verse, then slept again, apparently
without suffering, except when he tried to take the cordials, and this
he did with such increasing difficulty, that she hardly knew how to
bear to cause him so much pain, though it was the last lingering hope.
He strove to swallow them, each time with the mechanical 'Thank you,'
so affecting when thus spoken; but at last he came to, 'It is of no
use; I cannot.'
Then she knew all hope was gone, and sat still, watching him. The
darkness lessened, and twilight came. He slept, but his breath grew
short, and unequal; and as she wiped the moisture on his brow, she knew
it was the death-damp.
Morning light came on--the church bell rang out matins--the white hills
were tipped with rosy light. His pulse was almost gone--his hand was
cold. At last he opened his eyes. 'Amy! he said, as if bewildered, or
'I don't see.'
At that moment the sun was rising, and the light streamed in at the
open window, and over the bed; but it was "another dawn than ours" that
he beheld as his most beautiful of all smiles beamed over his face, and
he said, 'Glory in the Highest!--peace--goodwill'--A struggle for
breath gave an instant's look of pain, then he whispered so that she
could but just hear--'The last prayer.' She read the Commendatory
Prayer. She knew not the exact moment, but even as she said 'Amen' she
perceived it was over. The soul was with Him with whom dwell the
spirits of just men made perfect; and there lay the earthly part with a
smile on the face. She closed the dark fringed eyelids--saw him look
more beautiful than in sleep--then, laying her face down on the bed,
she knelt on. She took no heed of time, no heed of aught that was
earthly. How long she knelt she never knew, but she was roused by
Anne's voice in a frightened sob--'My lady, my lady--come away! Oh,
Miss Amabel, you should not be here.'
She lifted her head, and Anne afterwards told Mary Ross, 'she should
never forget how my lady looked. It was not grief: it was as if she
had been a little way with her husband, and was just called back.'
She rose--looked at his face again--saw Arnaud was at hand--let Anne
lead her into the next room, and shut the door.
The matron who alone has stood
When not a prop seemed left below,
The first lorn hour of widowhood,
Yet, cheered and cheering all the while,
With sad but unaffected, smile.--CHRISTIAN YEAR
The four months' wife was a widow before she was twenty-one, and there
she sat in her loneliness, her maid weeping, seeking in vain for
something to say that might comfort her, and struck with fear at seeing
her thus composed. It might be said that she had not yet realized her
situation, but the truth was, perhaps, that she was in the midst of the
true realities. She felt that her Guy was perfectly happy--happy
beyond thought or comparison--and she was so accustomed to rejoice with
him, that her mind had not yet opened to understand that his joy left
her mourning and desolate.
Thus she remained motionless for some minutes, till she was startled by
a sound of weeping--those fearful overpowering sobs, so terrible in a
strong man forced to give way.
'Philip!' thought she; and withal Guy's words returned-- 'It will be
worse for him than for you. Take care of him.'
'I must go to him,' said she at once.
She took up a purple prayer-book that she had unconsciously brought in
her hand from Guy's bed, and walked down-stairs, without pausing to
think what she should say or do, or remembering how she would naturally
have shrunk from the sight of violent grief.
Philip had retired to his own room the night before, overwhelmed by the
first full view of the extent of the injuries he had inflicted, the
first perception that pride and malevolence had been the true source of
his prejudice and misconceptions, and for the first time conscious of
the long-fostered conceit that had been his bane from boyhood. All had
flashed on him with the discovery of the true purpose of the demand
which he thought had justified his persecution. He saw the glory of
Guy's character and the part he had acted,--the scales of self-
admiration fell from his eyes, and he knew both himself and his cousin.
His sole comfort was in hope for the future, and in devising how his
brotherly affection should for the rest of his life testify his altered
mind, and atone for past ill-will. This alone kept him from being
completely crushed,--for he by no means imagined how near the end was,
and the physician, willing to spare himself pain, left him in hopes,
though knowing how it would be. He slept but little, and was very
languid in the morning; but he rose as soon as Arnaud came to him, in
order not to occupy Arnaud's time, as well as to be ready in case Guy
should send for him again, auguring well from hearing that there was
nothing stirring above, hoping this was a sign that Guy was asleep. So
hoped the two servants for a long time, but at length, growing alarmed,
after many consultations, they resolved to knock at the door, and learn
what was the state of things.
Philip likewise was full of anxiety, and coming to his room door to
listen for intelligence, it was the "e morto" of the passing Italians
that first revealed to him the truth. Guy dead, Amy widowed, himself
the cause--he who had said he would never be answerable for the death
of this young man.
Truly had Guy's threat, that he would make him repent, been fulfilled.
He tottered back to his couch, and sank down, in a burst of anguish
that swept away all the self-control that had once been his pride.
There Amabel found him stretched, face downwards, quivering and
convulsed by frightful sobs.
'Don't--don't, Philip,' said she, in her gentle voice. 'Don't cry so
Without looking up, he made a gesture with his hand, as if to drive her
away. 'Don't come here to reproach me!' he muttered.
'No, no; don't speak so. I want you to hear me; I have something for
you from him. If you would only listen, I want to tell you how happy
and comfortable it was.' She took a chair and sat down by him,
relieved on perceiving that the sobs grew a little less violent.
'It was very peaceful, very happy,' repeated she. 'We ought to be very
He turned round, and glanced at her for a moment; but he could not bear
to see her quiet face. 'You don't know what you say,' he gasped. 'No;
take care of yourself, don't trouble yourself for such as me!'
'I must; he desired me,' said Amabel. 'You will be happier, indeed,
Philip, if you would only think what glory it is, and that he is all
safe, and has won the victory, and will have no more of those hard,
hard struggles, and bitter repentance. It has been such a night, that
it seems wrong to be sorry.'
'Did you say he spoke of me again?'
'Yes; here is his Prayer-book. Your father gave it to him, and he
meant to have told you about it himself, only he could not talk
yesterday evening, and could not part with it till--'
Amy broke off by opening the worn purple cover, and showing the name,
in the Archdeacon's writing. 'He's very fond of it,' she said; 'it is
the one he always uses.' (Alas! she had not learnt to speak of him in
the past tense.)
Philip held out his hand, but the agony of grief returned the next
moment. 'My father, my father! He would have done him justice. If he
had lived, this would never have been!'
'That is over, you do him justice now,' said Amy. 'You did, indeed you
did, make him quite happy. He said so, again and again. I never saw
him so happy as when you began to get better. I don't think any one
ever had so much happiness and it never ceased, it was all quiet, and
peace, and joy, till it brightened quite into perfect day--and the
angel's song! Don't you remember yesterday, how clear and sweet his
voice came out in that? and it was the last thing almost he said. I
believe'--she lowered her voice--'I believe he finished it among them.'
The earnest placid voice, speaking thus, in calmness and simplicity,
could not fail in soothing him; but he was so shaken and exhausted,
that she had great difficulty in restoring him. After a time, he lay
perfectly still on the sofa, and she was sitting by, relieved by the
tranquillity, when there was a knock at the door, and Arnaud came in,
and stood hesitating, as if he hardly knew how to begin. The present
fear of agitating her charge helped her now, when obliged to turn her
thoughts to the subjects on which she knew Arnaud was come. She went
to the door, and spoke low, hoping her cousin might not hear or
'How soon must it be?'
'My lady, to-morrow,' said Arnaud, looking down. 'They say that so it
must be; and the priest consents to have it in the churchyard here.
The brother of the clergyman is here, and would know if your ladyship
'I will speak to him,' said Amabel, reluctant to send such messages
'Let me,' said Philip, who understood what was going on, and was of
course impelled to spare her as much as possible.
'Thank you' said she, 'if you are able!'
'Oh, yes; I'll go at once!'
'Stop,' said she, as he was setting forth; 'you don't know what you are
going to say.'
He put his hand to his head in confusion.
'He wished to be buried here,' said Amabel, 'and--'
But this renewal of the assurance of the death was too much; and
covering his face with his hands, he sank back in another paroxysm of
violent sobs. Amabel could not leave him.
'Ask Mr. Morris to be so good as to wait, and I will come directly,'
said she, then returned to her task of comfort till she again saw
Philip lying, with suspended faculties, in the repose of complete
She then went to Mr. Morris, with a look and tone of composure that
almost startled him, thanking him for his assistance in the
arrangements. The funeral was to be at sunrise the next day, before
the villagers began to keep the feast of St. Michael, and the rest was
to be settled by Arnaud and Mr. Morris. He then said, somewhat
reluctantly, that his brother had desired to know whether Lady Morville
wished to see him to-day, and begged to be sent for; but Amy plainly
perceived that he thought it very undesirable for his brother to have
any duties to perform to-day. She questioned herself whether she might
not ask him to read to her, and whether it might be better for Philip;
but she thought she ought not to ask what might injure him merely for
her own comfort; and, besides, Philip was entirely incapable of self-
command, and it would not be acting fairly to expose him to the chance
of discovering to a stranger, feelings that he would ordinarily guard
She therefore gratefully refused the offer, and Mr. Morris very nearly
thanked her for doing so. He took his leave, and she knew she must
return to her post; but first she indulged herself with one brief visit
to the room where all her cares and duties had lately centred. A look-
-a thought--a prayer. The beauteous expression there fixed was a help,
as it had ever been in life and she went back again cheered and
Throughout that day she attended on her cousin, whose bodily
indisposition required as much care as his mind needed soothing. She
talked to him, read to him, tried to set him the example of taking
food, took thought for him as if he was the chief sufferer, as if it
was the natural thing for her to do, working in the strength her
husband had left her, and for him who had been his chief object of
care. She had no time to herself, except the few moments that she
allowed herself now and then to spend in gazing at the dear face that
was still her comfort and joy; until, at last, late in the evening, she
succeeded in reading Philip to sleep. Then, as she sat in the dim
candle-light, with everything in silence, a sense of desolation came
upon her, and she knew that she was alone.
At that moment a carriage thundered at the door, and she remembered for
the first time that she was expecting her father and mother. She
softly left the room and closed the door; and finding Anne in the nest
room, sent her down.
'Meet mamma, Anne,' said she; 'tell her I am quite well. Bring them
They entered; and there stood Amabel, her face a little flushed, just
like, only calmer, the daughter they had parted with on her bridal day,
four months ago. She held up her hand as a sign of silence, and said,-
'Hush! don't wake Philip.'
Mr. Edmonstone was almost angry, and actually began an impatient
exclamation, but broke it off with a sob, caught her in his arms,
kissed her, and then buried his face in his handkerchief. Mrs.
Edmonstone, still aghast at the tidings they had met at Vicenza, and
alarmed at her unnatural composure, embraced her; held her for some
moments, then looked anxiously to see her weep. But there was not a
tear, and her voice was itself, though low and weak, as, while her
father began pacing up and down, she repeated,--
'Pray don't, papa; Philip has been so ill all day.'
'Philip--pshaw!' said Mr. Edmonstone, hastily. 'How are you, yourself,
my poor darling?'
'Quite well, thank you,' said Amy. 'There is a room ready for you.'
Mrs. Edmonstone was extremely alarmed, sure that this was a grief too
deep for outward tokens, and had no peace till she had made Amabel
consent to come up with her, and go at once to bed. To this she
agreed, after she had rung for Arnaud, and stood with him in the
corridor, to desire him to go at once to Captain Morville, as softly as
he could, and when he waked, to say Mr. and Mrs. Edmonstone were come,
but she thought he had better not see them to-night; to tell him from
her that she wished him good night, and hoped he would, sleep quietly.
'And, Arnaud, take care you do not let him know the hour tomorrow.
Perhaps, as he is so tired, he may sleep till afterwards.'
Mrs. Edmonstone was very impatient of this colloquy, and glad when
Amabel ended it, and led the way up-stairs. She entered her little
room, then quietly opened another door, and Mrs. Edmonstone found
herself standing by the bed, where that which was mortal lay, with its
face bright with the impress of immortality.
The shock was great, for he was indeed as a son to her; but her fears
for Amabel would not leave room for any other thought.
'Is not he beautiful?' said Amy, with a smile like his own.
'My dear, my dear, you ought not to be here,' said Mrs. Edmonstone,
trying to lead her away.
'If you would let me say my prayers here!' said she, submissively.
'I think not. I don't know how to refuse, if it would be a comfort,'
said Mrs. Edmonstone, much distressed, 'but I can't think it right.
The danger is greater after. And surely, my poor dear child, you have
a reason for not risking yourself!'
'Go, mamma, I ought not to have brought you here; I forgot about
infection,' said Amabel, with the tranquillity which her mother had
hoped to shake by her allusion. 'I am coming.'
She took up Guy's watch and a book from the table by the bed-side, and
came back to her sleeping-room. She wound up the watch, and then
allowed her mother to undress her, answering all her inquiries about
her health in a gentle, indifferent, matter-of-fact way. She said
little of Guy, but that little was without agitation, and in due time
she lay down in bed. Still, whenever Mrs. Edmonstone looked at her,
there was no sleep in her eyes, and at last she persuaded her to leave
her, on the plea that being watched made her more wakeful, as she did
not like to see mamma sitting up.
Almost as soon as it was light, Mrs. Edmonstone returned, and was
positively frightened, for there stood Amabel, dressed in her white
muslin, her white bonnet, and her deep lace wedding-veil. All her
glossy hair was hidden away, and her face was placid as ever, though
there was a red spot on each cheek. She saw her mother's alarm, and
reassured her by speaking calmly.
'You know I have nothing else but colours; I should like to wear this,
if you will let me.'
'But, dearest, you must not--cannot go.'
'It is very near. We often walked there together. I would not if I
thought it would hurt me, but I wish it very much indeed. At home by
Mrs. Edmonstone yielded, though her mind misgave her, comforted by
hoping for the much-desired tears. But Amabel, who used to cry so
easily for a trifle, had now not a tear. Her grief was as yet too
deep, or perhaps more truly sorrow and mourning had not begun while the
influence of her husband's spirit was about her still.
It was time to set forth, and the small party of mourners met in the
long corridor. Mr. Edmonstone would have given his daughter his arm,
but she said--
'I beg your pardon, dear papa, I don't think I can;' and she walked
alone and firmly.
It was a strange sight that English funeral, so far from England. The
bearers were Italian peasants. There was a sheet thrown over the
coffin instead of a pall, and this, with the white dress of the young
widow, gave the effect of the emblematic whiteness of a child's
funeral; and the impression was heightened by the floating curling
white clouds of vapour rising in strange shrouded shadowy forms, like
spirit mourners, from the narrow ravines round the grave-yard, and the
snowy mountains shining in the morning light against the sky.
Gliding almost like one of those white wreaths of mist, Amabel walked
alone, tearless and calm, her head bent down, and her long veil falling
round her in full light folds, as when it had caught the purple light
on her wedding-day. Her parents were close behind, weeping more for
the living than the dead, though Guy had a fast hold of their hearts;
and his own mother could scarce have loved him better than Mrs.
Edmonstone did. Lastly, were Anne and Arnaud, sincere mourners,
especially Arnaud, who had loved and cherished his young master from
They went to the strangers' corner of the grave-yard, for, of course
the church did not open to a member of another communion of the visible
church; but around them were the hills in which he had read many a
meaning, and which had echoed a response to his last chant with the
promise of the blessing of peace.
The blessing of peace came in the precious English burial-service, as
they laid him to rest in the earth, beneath the spreading chestnut-
tree, rendered a home by those words of his Mother Church--the mother
who had guided each of his steps in his orphaned life. It was a
distant grave, far from his home and kindred, but in a hallowed spot,
and a most fair one; and there might his mortal frame meetly rest till
the day when he should rise, while from their ancestral tombs should
likewise awaken the forefathers whose sins were indeed visited on him
in his early death; but, thanks to Him who giveth the victory, in death
without the sting.
Amabel, in obedience to a sign from her mother, sat on a root of the
tree while the Lesson was read, and afterwards she moved forward and
stood at the edge of the grave, her hands tightly clasped, and her head
somewhat raised, as if her spirit was following her husband to his
repose above, rather than to his earthly resting-place.
The service was ended, and she was taking a last long gaze, while her
mother, in the utmost anxiety, was striving to make up her mind to draw
her away, when suddenly a tall gaunt figure was among them--his face
ghastly pale, and full of despair and bewilderment--his step uncertain-
-his dress disordered.
Amabel turned, went up to him, laid her hand on his arm, and said,
softly, and quietly looking up in his face, 'It is over now, Philip;
you had better come home.'
Not attempting to withstand her, he obeyed as if it was his only
instinct. It was like some vision of a guiding, succouring spirit, as
she moved on, slowly gliding in her white draperies. Mrs. Edmonstone
watched her in unspeakable awe and amazement, almost overpowering her
anxieties. It seemed as impossible that the one should be Amy as that
the other should be Philip, her gentle little clinging daughter, or her
proud, imperturbable, self-reliant nephew.
But it was Amy's own face, when they entered the corridor and she
turned back her veil, showing her flushed and heated cheeks, at the
same time opening Philip's door and saying, 'Now you must rest, for you
ought not to have come out. Lie down, and let mamma read to you.'
Mrs. Edmonstone was reluctant, but Amy looked up earnestly and said,
'Yes, dear mamma, I should like to be alone a little while.'
She then conducted her father to the sitting-room up-stairs.
'I will give you the papers,' she said; and leaving him, returned
'This is his will,' she said. 'You will tell me if there is anything I
must do at once. Here is a letter to Mr. Markham, and another to Mr.
Dixon, if you will be so kind as to write and enclose them. Thank you,
She drew a blotting-book towards him, saw that there was ink and pen,
and left him too much appalled at her ways to say anything.
His task was less hard than the one she had set her mother. Strong
excitement had carried Philip to the grave-yard as soon as he learnt
what was passing. He could hardly return even with Arnaud's support,
and he had only just reached the sofa before he fell into a fainting-
It was long before he gave any sign of returning life, and when he
opened his eyes and saw Mrs. Edmonstone, he closed them almost
immediately, as if unable to meet her look. It was easier to treat him
in his swoon than afterwards. She knew nothing of his repentance and
confession; she only knew he had abused her confidence, led Laura to
act insincerely, and been the cause of Guy's death. She did not know
how bitterly he accused himself, and though she could not but see he
was miserable, she could by no means fathom his wretchedness, nor guess
that her very presence made him conscious how far he was fallen. He
was so ill that she could not manifest her displeasure, nor show
anything but solicitude for his relief; but her kindness was entirely
to his condition, not to himself; and perceiving this, while he thought
his confession had been received, greatly aggravated his distress,
though he owned within himself that he well deserved it.
She found that he was in no state for being read to; he was completely
exhausted, and suffering from violent headache. So when she could
conscientiously say that to be left quiet was the best thing for him,
she went to her daughter.
Amabel was lying on her bed, her Bible open by her; not exactly
reading, but as if she was now and then finding a verse and dwelling on
it. Gentle and serene she looked; but would she never weep? would
those quiet blue eyes be always sleepless and tearless?
She asked anxiously for Philip, and throughout the day he seemed to be
her care. She did not try to get up and go to him, but she was
continually begging her mother to see about him. It was a harassing
day for poor Mrs. Edmonstone. She would have been glad to have sat by
Amabel all the time, writing to Charles, or hearing her talk. Amy had
much to say, for she wished to make her mother share the perfect peace
and thankfulness that had been breathed upon her during those last
hours with her husband, and she liked to tell the circumstances of his
illness and his precious sayings, to one who would treasure them almost
like herself. She spoke with her face turned away, so as not to see
her mother's tears, but her mild voice unwavering, as if secure in the
happiness of these recollections. This was the only comfort of Mrs.
Edmonstone's day, but when she heard her husband's boots creaking in
the corridor, it was a sure sign that he was in some perplexity, and
that she must go and help him to write a letter, or make some
arrangement. Philip, too, needed attention; but excellent nurse as
Mrs. Edmonstone was, she only made him worse. The more he felt she was
his kind aunt still, the more he saw how he had wounded her, and that
her pardon was an effort. The fond, spontaneous, unreserved affection-
-almost petting--which he had well-nigh dared to contemn, was gone; her
manner was only that of a considerate nurse. Much as he longed for a
word of Laura, he did not dare to lead to it,--indeed, he was so far
from speaking to her of any subject which touched him, that he did not
presume even to inquire for Amabel, he only heard of her through
At night sheer exhaustion worked its own cure; he slept soundly, and
awoke in the morning revived. He heard from Arnaud that Lady Morville
was pretty well, but had not slept; and presently Mrs. Edmonstone came
in and took pains to make him comfortable, but with an involuntary
dryness of manner. She told him his uncle would come to see him as
soon as he was up, if he felt equal to talking over some business.
Philip's brain reeled with dismay and consternation, for it flashed on
him that he was heir of Redclyffe. He must profit by the death he had
caused; he had slain, and he must take possession of the lands which,
with loathing and horror, he remembered that he had almost coveted.
Nothing more was wanting. There was little consolation in remembering
that the inheritance would clear away all difficulties in the way of
his marriage. He had sinned; wealth did not alter his fault, and his
spirit could not brook that if spurned in poverty, he should be
received for his riches. He honoured his aunt for being cold and
reserved, and could not bear the idea of seeing his uncle ready to meet
After the first shock he became anxious to have the meeting over, know
the worst, and hear on what ground he stood with Laura. As soon as he
was dressed, he sent a message to announce that he was ready, and lay
on the sofa awaiting his uncle's arrival, as patiently as he could.
Mr. Edmonstone, meantime, was screwing up his courage--not that he
meant to say a word of Laura,--Philip was too unwell to be told his
opinion of him, but now he had ceased to rely on his nephew, he began
to dread him and his overbearing ways; and besides he had a perfect
horror of witnessing agitation.
At last he came, and Philip rose to meet him with a feeling of shame
and inferiority most new to him.
'Don't, don't, I beg,' said Mr. Edmonstone, with what was meant for
dignity. 'Lie still; you had much better. My stars! how ill you
look!' he exclaimed, startled by Philip's altered face and figure.
'You have had a sharpish touch; but you are better, eh?'
'Yes, thank you.'
'Well; I thought I had better come and speak to you, if you felt up to
it. Here is--here is--I hope it is all right and legal; but that you
can tell better than I; and you are concerned in it anyhow. Here is
poor Guy's will, which we thought you had better look over, if you
liked, and felt equal, eh?'
'Thank you,' said Philip, holding out his hand; but Mr. Edmonstone
withheld it, trying his patience by an endless quantity of discursive
half-sentences, apparently without connection with each other, about
disappointment, and hopes, and being sorry, and prospects, and its
'being an unpleasant thing,' and 'best not raise his expectations:'
during all which time Philip, expecting to hear of Laura, and his heart
beating so fast as to renew the sensation of faintness, waited in vain,
and strove to gather the meaning, and find out whether he was forgiven,
almost doubting whether the confusion was in his own mind or in his
uncle's words. However, at last the meaning bolted out in one
comprehensive sentence, when Mr. Edmonstone thought he had sufficiently
prepared him for his disappointment,--'Poor Amy is to be confined in
There Mr. Edmonstone stopped short, very much afraid of the effect; but
Philip raised himself, his face brightened, as if he was greatly
relieved, and from his heart he exclaimed, 'Thank Heaven!'
'That's right! that is very well said!' answered Mr. Edmonstone, very
much pleased. 'It would be a pity it should go out of the old line
after all; and it's a very generous thing in you to say so.'
'Oh no!' said Philip, shrinking into himself at even such praise as
'Well, well,' said his uncle, 'you will see he has thought of you, be
it how it may. There! I only hope it is right; though it does seem
rather queer, appointing poor little Amy executor rather than me. If I
had but been here in time! But 'twas Heaven's will; and so-- It does
not signify, after all, if it is not quite formal. We understand each
The will was on a sheet of letter-paper, in Arnaud's stiff French
handwriting; it was witnessed by the two Mr. Morrises, and signed on
the 27th of September, in very frail and feeble characters. Amabel and
Markham were the executors, and Amabel was to be sole guardian, in case
of the birth of a child. If it was a son, £10,000 was left to Philip
himself; if not, he was to have all the plate, furniture, &c., of
Redclyffe, with the exception of whatever Lady Morville might choose
Philip scarcely regarded the legacy (though it smoothed away his chief
difficulties) as more than another of those ill-requited benefits which
were weighing him to the earth. He read on to a sentence which
reproached him so acutely, that he would willingly have hidden from it,
as he had done from Guy's countenance. It was the bequest of £5000 to
Elizabeth Wellwood. Sebastian Dixon's debts were to be paid off; £1000
was left to Marianne Dixon, and the rest of the personal property was
to be Amabel's.
He gave back the paper, with only the words 'Thank you.' He did not
feel as if it was for him to speak; and Mr. Edmonstone hesitated, made
an attempt at congratulating him, broke down, and asked if it was
properly drawn up. He glanced at the beginning and end, said it was
quite correct, and laid his head down, as if the examination had been a
great deal of trouble.
'And what do you think of Amy's being under age?' fidgeted on Mr.
Edmonstone. 'How is she to act, poor dear! Shall I act for her?'
'She will soon be of age,' said Philip, wearily.
'In January, poor darling. Who would have thought how it would have
been with her? I little thought, last May--but, holloa! what have I
been at?' cried he, jumping up in a great fright, as Philip, so weak as
to be overcome by the least agitation, changed countenance, covered his
face with his hands, and turned away with a suppressed sob. 'I didn't
mean it, I am sure! Here! mamma!'
'No, no,' said Philip, recovering, and sitting up; 'don't call her, I
beg. There is nothing the matter.'
Mr. Edmonstone obeyed, but he was too much afraid of causing a renewal
of agitation to continue the conversation; and after walking about the
room a little while, and shaking it more than Philip could well bear,
he went away to write his letters.
In the meantime, Amabel had been spending her morning in the same quiet
way as the former day. She wrote part of a letter to Laura, and walked
to the graveyard, rather against her mother's wish; but she was so good
and obedient, it was impossible to thwart her, though Mrs. Edmonstone
was surprised at her proposal to join her father and Philip at tea.
'Do you like it, my dear?'
'He told me to take care of him,' said Amabel.
'I cannot feel that he deserves you should worry yourself about him,'
said Mrs. Edmonstone. 'If you knew all--'
'I do know all, mamma,--if you mean about Laura. Surely you must
forgive. Think how he repents. What, have you not had his letter?
Then how did you know?'
'I learned it from Laura herself. Her trouble at his illness revealed
it. Do you say he has written?'
'Yes, mamma; he told Guy all about it, and was very sorry, and wrote as
soon as he was able. Guy sent you a long message. He was so anxious
Amabel showed more eagerness to understand the state of the case, than
she had about anything else. She urged that Philip should be spoken
to, as soon as possible, saying the suspense must be grievous, and
dwelling on his repentance. Mrs. Edmonstone promised to speak to papa,
and this satisfied her; but she held her resolution of meeting Philip
that evening, looking on him as a charge left her by her husband, and
conscious that, as she alone understood how deep was his sorrow, she
could make the time spent with her parents less embarrassing.
Her presence always soothed him, and regard for her kept her father
quiet; so that the evening passed off very well. Mrs. Edmonstone
waited on both; and, in Amy's presence, was better able to resume her
usual manner towards her nephew, and he sat wondering at the placidity
of Amy's pale face. Her hair was smoothed back, and she wore a cap,--
the loss of her long shady curls helping to mark the change from the
bright days of her girlhood; but the mournfulness of her countenance
did not mar the purity and serenity that had always been its great
characteristic; and in the faint sweet smile with which she received a
kind word or attention, there was a likeness to that peculiar and
beautiful expression of her husband's, so as, in spite of the great
difference of feature and colouring, to give her a resemblance to him.
All this day had been spent by Mr. Edmonstone in a fret to get away
from Recoara, and his wife was hardly less desirous to leave it than
himself, for she could have no peace or comfort about Amabel, till she
had her safely at home. Still she dreaded proposing the departure, and
even more the departure itself; and, in spite of Mr. Edmonstone's
impatience, she let her alone till she had her mourning; but when,
after two days of hard work, Anne had nearly managed to complete it,
she made up her mind to tell her daughter that they ought to set out.
Amabel replied by mentioning Philip. She deemed him a sort of trust,
and had been reposing in the thought of making him a reason for
lingering in the scene where the brightness of her life had departed