Lester’s words of passionate love had reached the ear that seemed closed to all earthly sounds; they were heard as in a dream, but afterward recalled with a full apprehension of their reality and of all they meant to her and to him.
Months ago she had read the same sweet story in his eyes, but how sweeter far it was to have heard it from his lips.
She had sometimes wondered that he held his peace so long, and again had doubted the language of his looks, but now those doubts were set at rest, and their next interview was anticipated with a strange flutter of the heart, a longing for, yet half shrinking from the words he might have to speak.
But the day passed and he did not come; another and another, and no word from him. How strange! he was still her preceptor in her art studies; did he not know that she was well enough to resume them? If not, was it not his place to inquire?
Perhaps he was ill. Oh, had he risked his health, perhaps his life in saving hers? She did not ask; her lips refused to speak his name, and would nobody tell her?
At last she overheard her father saying to Eddie, “What has become of Lester Leland? It strikes me as a little ungallant that he has not been in to inquire after the health of your aunt and sister.”
“He has gone away,” Eddie answered, “he left the morning after the accident.”
“Gone away,” echoed Elsie’s sinking heart. “Gone away, and so suddenly! what could it mean?” She stole away to her own room to indulge, for a brief space, in the luxury of tears, then, with a woman’s instinctive pride, carefully removed their traces, and rejoined the family with a face all wreathed in smiles.
“Love is not to be reasoned down or lost,
In high ambition, or a thirst for greatness;
’Tis second life, it grows into the soul,
Warms ev’ry vein, and beats in ev’ry pulse;
I feel it here; my resolution melts.”
Enna lay at the point of death for weeks. Mrs. Travilla was her devoted nurse, scarcely leaving her day or night, and only snatching a few hours of rest occasionally, on a couch in an adjoining room whence she could be summoned at a moment’s notice.
Mr. Travilla at length remonstrated, “My darling, this is too much, you are risking your own life and health, which are far more valuable than hers.”
“O Edward,” she answered, the tears shining in her eyes, “I must save her if I can. I am praying, praying that reason may come back and her life be spared till she has learned to know him, whom to know aright is life eternal.”
“My precious, unselfish little wife!” he said, embracing her with emotion, “I believe your petition will be granted; that the Master will give you this soul for your hire, saying to you as to one of old, ’According to your faith be it unto you.’