But she determined not to worry, for the child might not live long enough for her to carry her threat into execution. Virgie, herself, might die, and a hundred other things might happen to prevent.
Her brother might never consent to marry again—she feared he would not—and poor Sadie Farnum’s reviving hopes would again be crushed; but, if he did, she felt very sure that her son, Percy—and a noble young fellow he was, too—would be very likely to inherit Heathdale, while Lillian would doubtless receive a handsome dowry when she came to marry.
“I do not believe I will send this to William,” she muttered, as she turned that precious document over and over in her hands, and feasted her eyes upon it. “I will at least wait until I hear something from him regarding the other; these priceless papers might be lost on the way, and then——”
Her musings were suddenly cut short by a violent ring at the hall bell.
She started, and sat erect to listen, her face growing pale and anxious, for there seemed to be something ominous in that vigorous jangle which went echoing through the house with such an imperious sound.
The night was raw and stormy; darkness had settled down over the country earlier than usual; there had been a disagreeable chill in the air all day, and a dismal sense of loneliness pervaded the mansion.
She heard the butler go to the door; then there was a sudden exclamation of surprise, followed by a few indistinct sentences, a step, strangely familiar, outside the library door, and the next moment Sir William, gaunt, haggard, and wretched, staggered into the room where his sister was sitting.
Virgie Makes a Home for Herself.
“William,” cried Lady Linton, springing excitedly to her feet, the document which had caused her so much joy but a moment before dropping unheeded on the table beside her. “What brings you home in this unceremonious manner? Are you ill? Has anything happened?”
“Am I ill? Yes, by heart is broken—dying within me. Has anything happened? My wife is lost to me forever!” he cried, in a hollow tone, as he sank weakly into a chair and groaned aloud.
“What can I do for you? Let me call John to remove your boots and bring you dry clothing,” his sister said, thoroughly alarmed by his appearance; and suiting the action to her words, she rang for the butler.
John came, and attended to his master’s wants with alacrity. Wood was piled upon the already cheerful fire, something hot was provided the traveler to drink, and Lady Linton soon had the satisfaction of seeing something like warmth and life stealing into her brother’s haggard face.
She understood at once that he must have been nearly crushed upon receiving the document which she had sent him, and that he had immediately started for home. He must have been taken ill on the way and been detained else he would have been there before, and she could imagine how he would chafe over the delay, and how heart-sick he had grown over the fact of being too late to stay the proceedings for the divorce.