She did not know before of Mrs. Graham’s return, and when her aunt casually asked, “Did your husband come back with you?” she involuntarily held her breath for the answer, which, when it came, sent the blood in torrents to her face and neck, while her eyes sparkled with joy. She should see him—he would explain everything—and she should be guiltless in Durward’s sight. This was the cause of her joy, which was quickly turned into sorrow by Mrs. Graham’s adding,
“But he started this morning for Europe, where he will remain three months, and perhaps longer, just according to his business.”
The bright flush died away, and was succeeded by paleness, which did not escape the observation or either mother or son, the latter of whom had watched her from the first, noting each change, and interpreting it according to his fears.
“’Lena, ’Lena, how have I been deceived!” was his mental cry as she precipitately left the room, saying to her aunt, who asked what was the matter, that she was faint and dizzy. Death had been but yesterday within their walls, and as if softened by its presence, Mrs. Livingstone actually spoke kindly of her niece, saying, that “constant watching with poor, dear Mabel had impaired her health.”
“Perhaps there are other causes which may affect her,” returned Mrs. Graham, with a meaning look, which, though lost on Mrs. Livingstone, was noticed by Durward, who soon proposed leaving.
On their way home, his mother asked if he observed ’Lena when Mr. Graham was mentioned.
Without saying that he did, Durward replied, “I noticed your remark to Mrs. Livingstone, and was sorry for it, for I do not wish you to say a word which will throw the least shade of suspicion upon ’Lena. Her reputation as yet is good, and you must not be the first to say aught against it.”
“I won’t, I won’t,” answered Mrs. Graham, anxious to conciliate her son, but she found it a harder matter to refrain than she had first supposed.
’Lena was to her a constant eye-sore, and nothing but the presence of Durward prevented her from occasionally giving vent in public to expressions which would have operated unfavorably against the young girl, and when at last circumstances occurred which gave her, as she thought, liberty to free her mind, she was only too willing to do so. Of those circumstances, in which others besides ’Lena were concerned, we will speak in another chapter.
ANNA AND CAPTAIN ATHERTON.
Malcolm Everett’s engagement with General Fontaine had expired, and as was his original intention, he started for New York, first seeking an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone, of whom he asked their daughter Anna in marriage, at the same time announcing the startling fact that they had been engaged for more than a year. “I do not ask you for her now,” said he, “for I am not in a situation to support her as I would wish to, but that time will come ere long, I trust, and I can assure you that her happiness shall be the first object of my life.”