Mary could not entirely repress her mirth while she read this catalogue of her crimes; but she was, at the same time, eager to expiate her offences, real or imaginary, in the sight of her good old aunt; and she immediately sat down to the construction of a letter after the model prescribed;—though with little expectation of being able to cope with the intelligent Miss P. M’P. in the extent of her communications. Her heart warmed at the thoughts of seeing again the dear familiar face of Aunt Grizzy, and of hearing the tones of that voice, which, though sharp and cracked, still sounded sweet in memory’s ear. Such is the power that early associations ever retain over the kind and unsophisticated heart. But she was aware how differently her mother would feel on the subject, as she never alluded to her husband’s family but with indignation or contempt; and she therefore resolved to be silent with regard to Aunt Grizzy’s prospects for the present.
“. . . . As in apothecaries’ shops all sorts of drugs are permitted to be, so may all sorts of books be in the library; and as they out of vipers, and scorpions, and poisonous vegetables extract often wholesome medicaments for the life of mankind, so out of whatsoever book good instruction and examples may be acquired.”—DRUMMOND of Hawthornden.
MARY’s thoughts had often reverted to Rose Hall since the day she had last quitted it, and she longed to fulfil her promise to her venerable friend; but a feeling of delicacy, unknown to herself, withheld her. “She will not miss me while she has her son with her,” said she to herself; but in reality she dreaded her cousin’s raillery should she continue to visit there as frequently as before. At length a favourable opportunity occurred. Lady Emily, with great exultation, told her the Duke of Altamont was to dine at Beech Park the following day, but that she was to conceal it from Lady Juliana and Adelaide; “for assuredly,” said she, “if they were apprised of it, they would send you up to the nursery as a naughty girl, or perhaps down to the scullery, and make a Cinderella of you. Depend upon it you would not get leave to show your face in the drawing-room.”
“Do you really think so?” asked Mary.
“I know it. I know Lady Juliana would torment you till she had set you a crying; and then she would tell you you had made yourself such a fright that you were not fit to be seen, and so order you to your own room. You know very well it would not be the first time that such a thing has happened.”
Mary could not deny the fact; but, sick of idle altercation, she resolved to say nothing, but walk over to Rose Hall the following morning. And this she did, leaving a note for her cousin, apologising for her flight.
She was received with rapture by Mrs. Lennox.
“Ah! my dear Mary,” said she, as she tenderly embraced her, “you know not, you cannot conceive, what a blank your absence makes in my life! When you open your eyes in the morning, it is to see the light of day and the faces you love, and all is brightness around you. But when I wake it is still to darkness. My night knows no end. ’Tis only when I listen to your dear voice that I forget I am blind.”