“Sweet flattery from your lips,” he returned laughingly. “Now, dearest, go and eat your breakfast. I have had mine.”
“Ned, do you know our tormentor is gone?” she asked, lifting her head, and looking into his eyes, with a glad light in her own.
“Yes, and am much relieved to know it,” he replied. “And, dearest, she shall never come again, if I can prevent it.”
“Tell me the old, old story.”
“My dear Zoe! what a happy face!” was Ella’s pleased exclamation, as the two met in the breakfast-room.
“Very bright, indeed!” said Arthur, who had come in with Zoe, smiling kindly upon her as he spoke.
“Because it reflects the light and joy in my heart,” she returned. “Wouldn’t it be strange if I were not happy in knowing that my husband is not seriously hurt? Oh, we have been so happy together, that I have often feared it could not last!”
“There seems every reasonable prospect that it will,” Arthur said, as they seated themselves at the table. “You are both young and healthy, your tastes are congenial, and you have enough of this world’s goods to enable you to live free from carking cares and exhausting labors.”
Zoe was in so great haste to return to Edward, that she could scarce refrain from eating her breakfast more rapidly than was consistent with either politeness toward her guests or a due regard for her own health: but she tried to restrain her impatience; and Arthur, who perceived and sympathized with it, exerted himself for her entertainment, telling amusing anecdotes, and making mirth-provoking remarks.
Ella, perceiving his designs, joined in, in the same strain. Zoe presently entered into their mood, and they seemed, as in fact they were, a light-hearted and happy little breakfast party; both Arthur and Ella feeling greatly relieved by the favorable change in their cousin, not for Zoe’s sake alone, but also because of their own affection for him.
Edward no longer needed Arthur as nurse: indeed, Zoe claimed the right to a monopoly of the, to her, sweet task of waiting upon him, and attending to all his wants. So Arthur resigned in that capacity, but was to continue his visits as physician.
He and Ella returned to Roselands shortly after leaving the breakfast-table; and Zoe, in joyous, tender mood, took her place by her husband’s bedside.
He welcomed her with a loving smile, taking her hand in his, and carrying it to his lips.
“Arthur has condemned me to lie here for a full week,” he said. “It would seem a weary while in the prospect, but for the thought of having, through it all, the sweet companionship of my darling little wife.”
“Dear Ned, how good in you to say so!” she murmured, kneeling beside the bed, and laying her cheek to his. “I don’t believe there’s another creature in the world that thinks my society of much account.”