“Why do I live so?” thought he, as he nervously paced the room. “My life is one of continual fear and anxiety, but it shall be so no longer. I’ll tell her all when she returns. I’ll brave the world, dare her displeasure, take ’Lena home, and be a man.”
Satisfied with this resolution, and nothing doubting that he should keep it, he started for Versailles, where he had an engagement with a gentleman who transacted business for him in Lexington.
THE LETTER AND ITS EFFECT.
Mabel had gone out, and ’Lena sat alone in the little room adjoining the parlor which Mr. Douglass termed his library, but which Nellie had fitted up for a private sewing-room. It was ’Lena’s favorite resort when she wished to be alone, and as Mabel was this morning absent, she had retired thither, not to work, but to think—to recall every word and look of Durward’s, to wonder when and how he would repeat the question, the answer to which had been prevented by Mr. Graham.
Many and blissful were her emotions as she sat there, wondering if it were not a bright dream, from which she would too soon awaken, for could it be that one so noble, so good, and so much sought for as Durward Bellmont had chosen her, of all others, to be his bride? Yes, it must be so, for he was not one to say or act what he did not mean; he would come that day and repeat what he had said before; and she blushed as she thought what her answer would be.
There was a knock on the door, and a servant entered, bringing her a letter, which she eagerly seized, thinking it was from him. But ’twas not his writing, though bearing the post-mark of Versailles. Hastily she broke the seal, and glancing at the signature, turned pale, for it was “Lucy Graham,” his mother, who had written, but for what, she could not guess. A moment more and she fell back on the sofa, white and rigid as a piece of marble. ’Twas a cruel and insulting letter, containing many dark insinuations, which she, being wholly innocent; could not understand. She knew indeed, that Mr. Graham had presented her with Vesta, but was there anything wrong in that? She did not think so, else she had never taken her. Her uncle, her cousin, and Durward, all three approved of her accepting it, the latter coming with it himself—so it could not be that; and for a long time Lena wept passionately, resolving one moment to answer the letter as it deserved determining, the next, to go herself and see Mrs. Graham face to face; and then concluding to treat it with silent contempt, trusting that Durward would erelong appear and make it all plain between them.
At last, about five o’clock, Mabel returned, bringing the intelligence that Mrs. Graham was in the city, at the Weisiger House, where she was going to remain until the morrow. She had met with an accident, which prevented her arrival in Frankfort until the train which she was desirous of taking had left.