In the drawing-room he insisted on being nursed; and alone, amid the faded furniture, watched over by the old portraits, her pale face fixed and her pale hands clasping her beloved dog, she sat thinking, brooding over the unhappiness, the incurable unhappiness, of her little life. She was absorbed in self, and did not rail against Hubert, or even Julia. Their personalities had somehow dropped out of her mind, and merely represented forces against which she found herself unable any longer to contend. Nor was she surprised at what had happened. There had always been in her some prescience of her fate. She and unhappiness had always seemed so inseparable, that she had never found it difficult to believe that this last misfortune would befall her. She had thought it over, and had decided that it would be unendurable to live any longer, and had borne many a terrible insomnia so that she might collect sufficient chloral to take her out of her misery; and now, as she sat thinking, she remembered that she had never, never been happy. Oh! the miserable evenings she used to spend, when a child, between her father and mother, who could not agree—why, she never understood. But she used to have to listen to her mother addressing insulting speeches to her father in a calm, even voice that nothing could alter; and, though both were dead and years divided her from that time, the memory survived, and she could see it all again—that room, the very paper on the wall, and her father being gradually worked up into a frenzy.
When she was left an orphan, Mr. Burnett had adopted her, and she remembered the joy of coming to Ashwood. She had thought to find happiness there; but there, as at home, fate had gone against her, and she was hardly eighteen when Mr. Burnett had asked her to marry him. She had loved that old man, but he had not loved her; for when she had refused to marry him he had broken all his promises and left her penniless, careless of what might become of her. Then she had given her whole heart to Julia, and Julia, too, had deceived her. And had she not loved Hubert?—no one would ever know how much; she did not know herself,—and had he not lied to her? Oh, it was very cruel to deceive a poor little girl in this heartless way! There was no heart in the world, that was it—and she was all heart; and her heart had been trampled on ever since she could remember. And when they came back they would revenge themselves upon her—insult her with their happiness; perhaps insist on sending her away.
Dandy drowsed on her lap. The servant brought in the tea, and when he returned to the kitchen he said he had never seen any one look so ghost-like as Miss Emily. The clock ticked loudly in the silence of the old room, the hands moving slowly towards ten. She waited for the hour to strike; it was then that she usually went to bed. Her thoughts moved as in a nightmare; and paramount in this chaotic mass of sensation was an acute sense of the deception