Still she kept hoping for some word during the time that intervened between the notification and the day set for the hearing of the case. Day after day she waited and watched for some tidings from her husband starting at every unusual sound, growing almost faint at the opening and shutting of a door, and even imagining she saw a familiar form as she sat at her window and eagerly scanned every passer-by.
She grew thin and pale with this dreadful suspense; she seemed to be consuming with fever, and was so restless and nervous that her friend, Mr. Knight, feared that her mind might suffer from such tension.
She hoped until the last moment, although she tried to conceal it, but when the dreaded day arrived, when her case was presented and there was no one to contest it; when the judge rendered his decision, declaring that her marriage was null and void, that henceforth in the eyes of the law and the world she was free from the man to whom she had solemnly promised to cling until death should part them, her courage and strength forsook her, and she was carried lifeless from the court-room, while for three weeks afterward she lay weak and ill, and almost indifferent to life.
The only grain of comfort in this time of woe was derived from the fact that the child had been given to her, and she had no fear of ever having it taken from her, even if Sir William should ever be moved to a desire to have her.
For a time she seemed wholly unlike herself; but the kind-hearted publisher knew that the best antidote for all kinds of trouble is work, and he kept her crowded with orders, until she felt obliged to rally her failing energies and to take up the burdens of life once more.
Thus the winter passed; but, when summer came again, little Virgie began to droop in the noisome atmosphere of the city, and the physician said she must be taken where she could have purer air and country living; so Virgie went to a quiet little place a few miles out of the city, where she remained the entire season, not returning to San Francisco until late in October, and thus a cruel fate again seemed to mock her, for during her absence Sir William Heath had come to seek her again, and not finding her, he, too, had grown heart-sick with despair and hope deferred.
Sir William Becomes Guardian.
Very distressing were the thoughts of the young baronet, who had so suddenly returned to his home and been stricken with illness.
He had been sick at Alexandria when he received the document notifying him that Virgie was seeking a divorce.
He was absolutely paralyzed as he read it, and saw by the date that it would be utterly impossible for him to reach America in time to stay the proceedings.
He could not even reach England in season to cable for that purpose, and he was so overcome by the knowledge and his own helplessness, as to render him unable to travel for a couple of weeks longer.