“Yes, that is what every one would tell me, I daresay,” Gilbert answered impatiently. “But is there to be no atonement for my broken life, rendered barren to me by this man’s act? I tell you, Sir David, there is no such thing as pardon for a wrong like this. But I know how foolish this talk must seem to you: there is always something ridiculous in the sufferings of a jilted lover.”
“Not at all, my dear Fenton. I heartily wish that I could be of use to you in this matter; but there is very little chance of that; and, believe me, there is only one rational course open to you, which is, to forget Miss Nowell, or Mrs. Holbrook, with all possible assiduity.”
Gilbert smiled, a melancholy incredulous smile. Sir David’s advice was only the echo of John Saltram’s counsel—the counsel which he would receive from every man of the world, no doubt—the counsel which he himself would most likely have given to a friend under the same circumstances.
Sir David was very cordial, and wanted his visitor to dine and sleep at Heatherly; but this Gilbert declined. He was eager to get back to London now that his business was finished.
He arrived in town late that night; and went back to his office-work next day with a dreary feeling that he must needs go through the same dull routine day after day in all the time to come, without purpose or hope in his life, only because a man must go on living somehow to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, whether the sun shine upon him or not.
He went to Queen Anne’s Court one evening soon after his return, and told Mr. Nowell all he had discovered at Wygrove. The old man showed himself keenly interested in his grand-daughter’s fate.
“I would give a great deal to see her before I die,” he said. “Whatever I have to leave will be hers. It may be little or much—I won’t speak about that; but I’ve lived a hard life, and saved where other men would have spent. I should like to see my son’s child; I should like to have some one of my own flesh and blood about me in my last days.”
“Would it not be a good plan to put an advertisement into the Times, addressed to Mrs. Holbrook, from a relation? She would be likely to answer that, when she would not reply to any appeal coming directly from me.”
“Yes,” answered Jacob Nowell; “and her husband would let her come to me for the sake of what I may have to leave her. But that can’t be helped, I suppose; it is the fate of a man who lives as I have lived, to be cared for at last only for what he has to give. I’ll put in such an advertisement as you speak of; and we’ll see what comes of it.”
A FRIENDLY COUNSELLOR.