“No, I cannot, I am sorry to say,” returned Doctor Thornton. “I asked her what course she intended to pursue, and she said, in the saddest voice I ever heard, ’I do not exactly know yet; I simply desire to establish the rightful claim of my daughter as the heiress of Heathdale.’”
“That looks as if she meant to go immediately to England!” cried Sir William, starting excitedly to his feet. “If she should do that, all would be well—everything will be explained, and we shall be happy once more.”
“I cannot say that such was her plan,” returned the clergyman, thoughtfully. “She looked scarcely able to endure such a journey. Still, it may be that such was her intention.”
“Oh, if I only knew! Just think, sir, I have never even seen my child!” cried Sir William, greatly agitated.
“It is certainly very sad. It is greatly to be regretted that you were recalled to England as you were,” said Doctor Thornton.
“Indeed it is. Why did I ever leave her? It was wrong! I fear I was negligent of my duty toward her in so doing. I do not know what to do now. If she has gone to England, we have passed each other, and I would desire to retrace my steps thither at once. If she is still here on this continent, I should be in despair to go home, and only find it out on the other side of the ocean.”
Doctor Thornton pitied the young husband sincerely.
“You are in a very trying position, I must acknowledge, and I do not like to advise you either to go or stay. You might wait here a while, and notify your friends to cable you in case Lady Heath should go direct to England; then it would be comparatively easy to join her there.”
Sir William determined to act upon these suggestions. He would cable Heathdale to be notified if Virgie should make her appearance there; meantime he would do his utmost to find her here.
He thanked the clergyman for his kindness, and bade him farewell, feeling much relieved regarding his wife, yet still very sad at heart at the mystery surrounding her.
He determined to search for Chi Lu, believing that he alone, who had always been so devoted to her, could tell him something definite as to her movements. He had an idea that he might be even now in her service.
Nothing but Death Shall Break the Tie.
Sir William went directly back to New York, fired with something of hope by Doctor Thornton’s suggestions He determined to search the passenger lists of the different steamer lines, hoping to find Virgie’s name among them.
He half believed that, armed with the strong proofs she had secured to substantiate the legality of her marriage, she would go directly to England to assert her position there as his wife.
He realized that underneath her habitual quiet and sweetness there lay a dignity and strength of character that would stop at nothing legitimate to remove the stigma she believed was resting on her fair name.