“Write to me often, my Virgie, and be very careful in directing your letters; I am afraid that I have missed one or two of your last. Oh, happy day when there will be no longer any need to communicate with each other in this slow way.”
Sir William had indeed missed his wife’s last letters and this was the only one that she ever received from him after that date.
How was it?
Ask Lady Linton, or go seek in the little brazier, which stood at night in the dressing-room of her mother for the purpose of heating the nourishment she was accustomed to take at twelve, for the ashes of the loving epistles which the fond husband and wife believed no other save themselves would peruse.
Little Virginia May Heath was just six weeks old, and becoming most interesting to her fond mamma, who was getting stronger every day, and able to take a little exercise in the corridor outside her rooms, when one morning as she was pacing slowly back and forth, thinking of her absent husband, and wishing, oh, so yearningly, that he could come to her, she encountered two ladies who had just ascended the stairs, and passed on to their apartments which were just beyond hers.
One was a finely formed, majestic woman, evidently somewhat over fifty years, having the air and bearing of one accustomed to society and the ways of the world. She was tastefully and elegantly dressed, every article of her apparel denoting wealth and a careful regard for fashion.
The other was a young lady, perhaps a year or two older than Virgie, a perfect blonde, with a tall, beautifully developed form, and with a face such as poets and artists rave about. It was a pure oval, faultless in feature and coloring, and yet withal, if closely studied, there was a suspicion of shallowness and insincerity in the full, sapphire eyes, and the perfectly formed but rather weak mouth.
Still Virgie, as she lifted her own lovely eyes and beheld this young lady, thought she had never seen any one more beautiful, while she colored slightly, and wondered why the strangers should observe her so closely and with such evident interest.
It was a very warm day, and she was clad in a fine white robe, richly embroidered and garnished with pale lavender ribbon. If she had but realized it, she was exquisitely beautiful herself, with her glossy, brown hair carelessly yet gracefully coiled at the back of her head, the color beginning to tinge her cheeks, that smile of happiness upon her sweet lips, and the holy mother-light shining in her violet eyes.
“Mamma, that must be she; that must be Lady Heath,” whispered the younger of the two strangers, when they had passed beyond hearing.
“Lady Heath!” was the scornful repetition, accompanied by a flash of anger from the dark eyes of the elder woman.
“Well, mamma, you know of course who I mean. She must be the girl whom Lady Linton wrote about.”