The road to Midway, the nearest railway station, was well known to her, and without once pausing, lest her courage should fail her, she pressed forward. The distance which she had to travel was about three and a half miles, and as she did not dare trust herself in the highway, she struck into the fields, looking back as long as the glimmering light from the window could be seen, and then when that home star had disappeared from view, silently imploring aid from Him who alone could help her now. She was in time for the cars, and, though the depot agent looked curiously at her slight, shrinking figure, he asked no questions, and when the train moved rapidly away, ’Lena looked out upon the dark, still night, and felt that she was a wanderer in the world.
The light of a dark, cloudy morning shone faintly in at the window of Grandma Nichols’s room, and roused her from her slumber. On the pillow beside her rested no youthful head—there was no kind voice bidding her “good-morrow”—no gentle hand ministering to her comfort—for ’Lena was gone, and on the table lay the note, which at first escaped Mrs. Nichols’s attention. Thinking her granddaughter had arisen early and gone before her, she attempted to make her own toilet, which was nearly completed, when her eye caught the note. It was directed to her, and with a dim foreboding she: took it up, reading that her child was gone—gone from those who should have sustained her in her hour of trial, but who, instead, turned against her, crushing her down, until in a state of desperation she had fled. It was in vain that the breakfast-bell rang out its loud summons. Grandma did not heed it; and when Corinda came up to seek her, she started back in affright at the scene before her. Mrs. Nichols’s cap was not yet on, and her thin gray locks fell around her livid face as she swayed from side to side, moaning at intervals, “God forgive me that I broke her heart.”
The sound of the opening door aroused her, and looking up she said, pointing toward the vacant bed, “’Leny’s gone; I’ve killed her.”
Corinda waited for no more, but darting through the hall and down the stairs, she rushed into the dining-room, announcing the startling news that “old miss had done murdered Miss ’Lena, and hid her under the bed!”
“What will come next!” exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, following her husband to his mother’s room where a moment sufficed to explain the whole.
’Lena was gone, and the shock had for a time unsettled the poor old lady’s reason. The sight of his mother’s distress aroused all the better nature of Mr. Livingstone, and tenderly soothing her, he told her that ’Lena should be found—he would go for her himself. Carrie, too, was touched, and with unwonted kindness she gathered up the scattered locks, and tying on the muslin cap, placed her hand for an instant on the wrinkled brow.