“He loved her, no doubt,” suggested Clarence; “and she was almost white.”
“How could he love her?” asked she, wonderingly. “Love a coloured woman! I cannot conceive it possible,” said she, with a look of disgust; “there is something strange and unnatural about it.”
“No, no,” he rejoined, hurriedly, “it was love, Anne,—pure love; it is not impossible. I—I—” “am coloured,” he would have said; but he paused and looked full in her lovely face. He could not tell her,—the words slunk back into his coward heart unspoken.
She stared at him in wonder and perplexity, and exclaimed,—“Dear Clarence, how strangely you act! I am afraid you are not well. Your brow is hot,” said she, laying her hand on his forehead; “you have been travelling too much for your strength.”
“It is not that,” he replied. “I feel a sense of suffocation, as if all the blood was rushing to my throat. Let me get the air.” And he rose and walked to the window. Anne hastened and brought him a glass of water, of which he drank a little, and then declared himself better.
After this, he stood for a long time with her clasped in his arms; then giving her one or two passionate kisses, he strained her closer to him and abruptly left the house, leaving Little Birdie startled and alarmed by his strange behaviour.
Dear Old Ess again.
Let us visit once more the room from which Mr. Walters and his friends made so brave a defence. There is but little in its present appearance to remind one of that eventful night,—no reminiscences of that desperate attack, save the bullet-hole in the ceiling, which Mr. Walters declares shall remain unfilled as an evidence of the marked attention he has received at the hands of his fellow-citizens.
There are several noticeable additions to the furniture of the apartment; amongst them an elegantly-carved work-stand, upon which some unfinished articles of children’s apparel are lying; a capacious rocking-chair, and grand piano.
Then opposite to the portrait of Toussaint is suspended another picture, which no doubt holds a higher position in the regard of the owner of the mansion than the African warrior aforesaid. It is a likeness of the lady who is sitting at the window,—Mrs. Esther Walters, nee Ellis. The brown baby in the picture is the little girl at her side,—the elder sister of the other brown baby who is doing its best to pull from its mother’s lap the doll’s dress upon which she is sewing. Yes, that is “dear old Ess,” as Charlie calls her yet, though why he will persist in applying the adjective we are at a loss to determine.
Esther looks anything but old—a trifle matronly, we admit—but old we emphatically say she is not; her hair is parted plainly, and the tiniest of all tiny caps sits at the back of her head, looking as if it felt it had no business on such raven black hair, and ought to be ignominiously dragged off without one word of apology. The face and form are much more round and full, and the old placid expression has been undisturbed in the lapse of years.