This seemed to arouse her, for in a natural tone she asked why ’Lena wept. Again and again ’Lena repeated to her that Malcolm had come—that he was not married—that he had come for her; and as Anna listened, the torpor slowly passed away—the wild light in her eyes grew less bright, for it was quenched by the first tears she had shed since the shadow fell upon her; and when ’Lena produced the note, and she saw it was indeed true, the ice about her heart was melted, and in choking, long-drawn sobs, her pent-up feelings gave way, as she saw the gulf whose verge she had been treading. Crouching at ’Lena’s feet, she kissed the very hem of her garments, blessing her as her preserver, and praying heaven to bless her, also. It was the work of a few moments to array her in her traveling dress, and then very cautiously ’Lena led her down the stairs, and out into the open air.
“If I could see father once,” said Anna; but such an act involved too much danger, and with one lingering, tearful look at her old home, she moved away, supported by ’Lena, who rather dragged than led her over the graveled walk.
As they approached the arbor bridge, they saw the glimmering light of a lantern, for the night was intensely dark, and in a moment Anna was clasped in the arms which henceforth were to shelter her from the storms of life. Helpless as an infant she lay, while ’Lena, motioning the negro who was in attendance to follow her, returned to the house for the trunk, which was soon safely deposited in the carriage at the gate.
“Words cannot express what I owe you,” said Malcolm, when he gave her his hand at parting, “but of this be assured, so long as I live you have in me a friend and brother.” Turning back for a moment, he added, “This flight is, I know, unnecessary, for I could prevent to-morrow’s expected event in other ways than this, but revenge is sweet, and I trust I am excusable for taking it in my own way.”
Anna could not speak, but the look of deep gratitude which beamed from her eyes was far more eloquent than words. Upon the broad piazza ’Lena stood until the last faint sound of the carriage wheels died away; then, weary and worn, she sought her room, locking ’Anna’s door as she passed it, and placing the key in her pocket. Softly she crept to bed by the side of her slumbering grandmother, and with a fervent prayer for the safety of the fugitives, fell asleep.
The loud ringing of the breakfast-bell aroused ’Lena from her heavy slumber, and with a vague consciousness of what had transpired the night previous, she at first turned wearily upon her pillow, wishing it were not morning; but soon remembering all, she sprang up, and after a hasty toilet, descended to the breakfast-room, where another chair was vacant, another face was missing. Without any suspicion of the truth, Mrs. Livingstone spoke of Anna’s absence, saying she presumed the poor girl was tired and sleepy, and this was admitted as an excuse for her tardiness. But when breakfast was over and she still did not appear, Corinda was sent to call her, returning soon with the information that “she’d knocked and knocked, but Miss Anna would not answer, and when she tried the door she found it locked.”