Durward was confounded, and knew not what to think. If his father had an undue regard for ’Lena, why should he wish to see her the wife of another, and that other his son? Was it his better and nobler nature struggling to save her from evil, which prompted the wish? Durward hoped so—he believed so; and the confidence which had so recently been shaken was fully restored, when, by the light of the hall lamp at home, he saw how white and almost ghostly was the face which, ere they entered the drawing-room, turned imploringly upon him, asking him “to be careful.”
Mrs. Graham had been in a fit of the sulks ever since the morning of Mrs. Livingstone’s call, and now, though she had not seen her husband for several days, she merely held out her hand, turning her head, meantime, and replying to his questions in a low, quiet kind of a much-injured-woman way, as provoking as it was uncalled for.
* * * * *
“Father’s suggestion was a good one,” thought Durward, when he had retired to rest. “’Lena is too beautiful to be alone in the world. I will propose to her at once, and she will thus be out of danger.”
But what should he do with her? Should he bring her there to Woodlawn, where scarcely a day passed without some domestic storm? No, his home should be full of sunlight, of music and flowers, where no angry word or darkening frown could ever find entrance; and thus dreaming of a blissful future, when ’Lena should be his bride, he fell asleep.
In this chapter it may not be out of place to introduce an individual who, though not a very important personage, is still in some degree connected with our story. On the night when Durward and his father were riding home from Frankfort, the family at Maple Grove, with the exception of grandma, were as usual assembled in the parlor. John Jr. had returned, and purposely telling his mother and Carrie whom he had left with ’Lena, had succeeded in putting them both into an uncomfortable humor, the latter secretly lamenting the mistake which she had committed in suffering ’Lena to stay with Mabel. But it could not be remedied now. There was no good reason for calling her home, and the lady broke at least three cambric-needles in her vigorous jerks at the handkerchief she was hemming.
A heavy tread upon the piazza, a loud ring of the bell, and Carrie straightened up, thinking it might possibly be Durward, who had called on his way home, but the voice was strange, and rather impatiently she waited.
“Does Mr. John Livingstone live here?” asked the stranger of the negro who answered the summons.
“Yes, sir,” answered the servant, eyeing the new comer askance.
“And is old Miss Nichols and Helleny to hum?”
The negro grinned, answering in the affirmative, and asking the young man to walk in.