With the letter of Junius open in her hand, she sat, for a long time, in bitter meditation. At length a light gradually spread itself over her gloomy countenance. Her eyes sparkled; she sat up straight in her chair, and a broad smile changed the course of the wrinkles on her cheeks. She arose to her feet; she gave her head a quick jerk of affirmation; she clapped one hand upon the other; and she said aloud: “I will bless, not curse!”
And with that she went happy to bed.
On the following Monday, Lawrence announced that his ankle was now quite well enough for him to go to New York, where his affairs required his presence. Neither he, nor the late Mrs Null, regarded this parting with any satisfaction, but their very natural regrets at the necessary termination of these happy autumn days were a good deal tempered by the fact that Lawrence intended to return in a few weeks, and that then the final arrangements would be made for their marriage. It was not easy to decide what these arrangements would be, for in spite of the many wrongnesses of the old lady’s head and heart, Annie had conceived a good deal of affection for her aunt, and felt a strong disinclination to abandon her to her lonely life, which would be more lonely than before, now that Junius was to be married. On the other hand, Lawrence, although he had discovered some estimable points in the very peculiar character of Mrs Keswick, had no intention of living in the same house with her. This whole matter, therefore, was left in abeyance until the lovers should meet again, some time in December.
Lawrence and Annie had desired very much that Junius should visit them before Mr Croft’s departure for the North, for they both had a high esteem for him, and both felt a desire that he should be as well satisfied with their matrimonial project as they were with his. But they need not have expected him. Junius had conceived a dislike for Mr Croft, which was based in great part upon disapprobation of what he himself had done in connection with that gentleman; and this manner of dislike is not easily set aside. The time would come when he would take Lawrence Croft and Annie by the hand, and honestly congratulate them, but for that time they must wait.