That night, when the company were gone and all around was silent, Mrs. Livingstone watered her pillow with the first tears she had shed for her youngest born, whom she well knew she had driven from home, and when her husband asked what they should do, she answered with a fresh burst of tears, “Send for Anna to come back.”
“And Malcolm, too?” queried Mr. Livingstone, knowing it was useless to send for one without the other.
“Yes, Malcolm too. There’s room for both,” said the weeping mother, feeling how every hour she should miss the little girl, whose presence had in it so much of sunlight and joy.
But Anna would not return. Away to the northward, in a fairy cottage overhung with the wreathing honeysuckle and the twining grape-vine, where the first summer flowers were blooming and the song-birds were caroling all the day long, her home was henceforth to be, and though the letter which contained her answer to her father’s earnest appeal was stained and blotted, it told of perfect happiness with Malcolm, who kissed away her tears as she wrote, “Tell mother I cannot come.”
Since the morning when Durward had so boldly avowed himself ’Lena’s champion, her health and spirits began to improve. That she was not wholly indifferent to him she had every reason to believe, and notwithstanding the strong barrier between them, hope sometimes whispered to her of a future, when all that was now so dark and mysterious should be made plain. But while she was thus securely dreaming, a cloud, darker and deeper than any which had yet overshadowed her, was gathering around her pathway. Gradually had the story of her ride to Captain Atherton’s gained circulation, magnifying itself as it went, until at last it was currently reported that at several different times had she been seen riding away from Sunnyside at unseasonable hours of the night, the time varying from nine in the evening to three in the morning according to the exaggerating powers of the informer.
But few believed it, and yet such is human nature, that each and every one repeated it to his or her neighbor, until at last it reached Mrs. Graham, who, forgetting the caution of her son, said, with a very wise look, that “she was not at all surprised—she had from the first suspected ’Lena, and she had the best of reasons for so doing!”
Of course Mrs. Graham’s friend was exceedingly anxious to know what she meant, and by dint of quizzing, questioning and promising never to tell, she at last drew out just enough of the story to know that Mr. Graham had a daguerreotype which looked just like ’Lena, and that Mrs. Graham had no doubt whatever that she was in the habit of writing to him. This of course was repeated, notwithstanding the promise of secrecy, and many of the neighbors suddenly remembered some little circumstance trivial in itself, but all going to swell the amount of evidence against poor ’Lena, who, unconscious of the gathering storm, did not for a time observe the sidelong glances cast toward her whenever she appeared in public.