“Is that all?” demanded Bressant, eying the professor’s face with great intentness.
“There’s not much more. One of the first persons the minister—such he was now—met, on his entrance into the village, was the woman he had loved first—the wife of his false friend—she whom he had long believed dead. She had settled, several years before, in this place, whither he had unawares followed her. In an interview—the first for nearly half a lifetime—all the old errors and falsehoods were cleared up. She told him how her husband’s heartlessness and insolent indifference had made her leave him; and how, for the sake of her son, and partly also out of pride, she had made no attempt to repossess herself of the fortune with which she had endowed her husband at their marriage. The hardest of all had been to leave her son, whom she loved with her whole heart; but he was sickly, and she dared not expose him to the chances of privation and hardship, such as she expected to endure. With some three thousand dollars in her pocket, she had come to America, and since then had never heard a word of those she had left, nor had they of her.
“About three years after his arrival, the minister’s wife died. He took his two children, and went with them to New York, where they staid nearly a year; and the widow of the old Knickerbocker found them out, and was as cordial as ever. But finally the minister decided to return to his country dwelling, and there he still remains.”
As Professor Valeyon concluded, he looked toward his auditor, having been conscious, especially during the latter part of the narrative, of the peculiar magnetic sensation which the steady glance of the young man’s eyes produced.
But at the same moment, Bressant turned his head away, and closed his eyes, as if wearied by the strain which had been imposed upon his attention. The old gentleman presently arose, and, after a moment’s hesitation, he apparently decided not to disturb or rouse his patient any further. He could wait until another time for whatever discussion yet remained. So he betook himself quietly to the door.
He had nearly closed it when, thinking he heard a sudden call or exclamation from within, he hastily reopened it, and looked into the room. But the invalid showed no signs of having spoken. His position was slightly changed, indeed, but his eyes were still closed, and his face turned somewhat away from the door.
“I must have been mistaken,” said Professor Valeyon, as he shut himself into the study. He walked to the table, and, resting one hand upon it, stood for several moments with his head bent forward, thinking. As he raised it, a sigh escaped him; nor was his countenance so serene as it had been half an hour before.
Bressant’s recovery was now very rapid, as he had himself foretold. The wedding was finally fixed for New-Year’s Day at noon. They were to be married at the Parsonage; afterward they might go South for two or three months, but it was understood that they would return to the village before settling permanently anywhere.