The following day she heard of nothing but the ball and its delights; for both her mother and her cousin sought (though from different motives) to heighten her regret at not having been there. But Mary listened to the details of all she had missed with perfect fortitude, and only rejoiced to hear they had all been so happy.
“Day follows night. The clouds return again
After the falling of the latter rain;
But to the aged blind shall ne’er return
Grateful vicissitude: She still must mourn
The sun, and moon, and every starry light,
Eclipsed to her, and lost in everlasting night.”
AMONGST the numerous letters and parcels with which Mary had been entrusted by the whole county of-----, there was one she had received from the hands of Lady Maclaughlan, with a strict injunction to be the bearer of it herself; and, as even Lady Maclaughlan’s wishes now wore an almost sacred character in Mary’s estimation, she was very desirous of fulfilling this her parting charge. But, in the thraldom in which she was kept, she knew not how that was to be accomplished. She could not venture to wait upon the lady to whom it was addressed without her mother’s permission; and she was aware that to ask was upon every occasion only to be refused. In his dilemma she had recourse to Lady Emily; and, showing her the letter, craved her advice and assistance.
“Mrs. Lennox, Rose Hall,” said her cousin, reading the superscription. “Oh! I don’t think Lady Juliana will care a straw about your going there. She is merely an unfortunate blind old lady, whom everybody thinks it a bore to visit—myself, I’m afraid, amongst the number. We ought all to have called upon her ages ago, so I shall go with you now.”
Permission for Mary to accompany her was easily obtained; for Lady Juliana considered a visit to Mrs. Lennox as an act of penance rather than of pleasure; and Adelaide protested the very mention of her name gave her the vapours. There certainly was nothing that promised much gratification in what Mary had heard; and yet she already felt interested in this unfortunate blind lady whom everybody thought it a bore to visit, and she sought to gain some more information respecting her. But Lady Emily, though possessed of warm feelings and kindly affections, was little given to frequent the house of mourning, or sympathise with the wounded spirit; and she yawned as she declared she was very sorry for poor Mrs. Lennox, and would have made a point of seeing her oftener, could she have done her any good.
“But what can I possibly say to her,” continued she, “after losing her husband, and having I don’t know how many sons killed in battle, and her only daughter dying of a consumption, and herself going blind in consequence of her grief for all these misfortunes—what can I possibly do for her, or say to her? Were I in her situation, I’m sure I should hate the sight and sound of any human being, and should give myself up entirely to despair.”