Care of the child kept her silent, but in solemn tenderness she lifted her arms toward him.
He uttered a freezing shriek and fled. In an instant his tread was resounding in the hall, then on two or three steps of the stair as she hurried after, and then there came a long, tumbling fall, her mother’s wail in the hail below, and a hoarse cry of dismay from Giles as he rushed out of the library.
“He’s only stunned, mum,” Giles was saying as Isabel reached the spot. “He’s no more nor just stunned, mum.”
He had lifted the fallen man’s head and shoulders, and Mrs. Stebbens came, dropping to her knees and sprinkling water into the still, white face.
Isabel threw herself between.
[Illustration: “Arthur! Arthur! can’t you speak?”]
“Arthur! Arthur! can’t you speak? Oh, let us move him into the library!”
“Yes, um!” exclaimed Giles. “’E’ll come to in there; you can see ’e’s only stunned.”
He tried to raise him, and Isabel and Sarah moved to help; but the wife turned on hearing Ruth’s voice at her side, and Leonard Byington lifted the limp man in his arms unaided, and bore him to the library lounge.
“Arthur,” he pleaded, with arms still under him, “can’t you speak to us, dear boy? Say at least good-by, can’t you, Arthur?” He parted the clothing from neck and breast, and laid an ear to his heart.
“Do you hear it, Leonard?” cried the wife. “Oh, you do hear it, don’t you, Leonard?”
There was no answer. For a moment Leonard’s own form relaxed, and he turned his face and buried it in the unresponsive breast. Then he lifted it again, and taking the other face between his hands he sank his brow to the brow upturned and cried: “God rest your soul, Arthur! Oh, Arthur, Arthur, God rest your soul!”
Mrs. Morris gave the physician her account of the accident, the physician gave the reporters his, and no other ever got into the old street or the town it looks down upon with such sweet superiority.
Said the rustic vestryman to another pall-bearer, as they turned toward their homes, “Many’s the time All Angels’s been craowded, but I never see it craowded as ’twas this time.”
The new mound was white under January snows when Godfrey and Isabel first stood beside it together; and when summer had come and gone again, and at last the time drew near when, by the regular alternations of the service, the ocean wanderer’s three years afloat were to be followed by three ashore, it was beside that mound that Ruth let him ask the long-withheld question.
And once more the new year followed the old.
On one of its earliest days, “I cal’late,” a certain somebody began to say to General Byington, “th’ never was a happier weddin’ so quiet, nor a qui—” But he caught the sheen of his daughter’s spectacles and forebore.