“When you were gone I broke down altogether, and the authorities of the village took and shut me up in a lunatic asylum. The years I spent there—and I spent six long years—are but a dull, dead blank. My life began again when they sent me forth, as they said—cured.
“I left Steeple Hill and began my life as a tramp. I joined a band of gypsies, and took to their ways—fortune-telling, rush-weaving—anything that came up; and I was black enough and weather-beaten enough to pass for one of them. I had but one desire left in life. To hunt up the manager of the little theater, and see my daughter again. I didn’t want you back. What could I, a miserable tramp, homeless, houseless, do with a young girl?—but I hungered and thirsted for the sound of your voice, for the sight of your face. I would know you anywhere—you were of the kind that do not change much. I knew I would recognize you as soon as I saw you.
“For two years I strolled about with the gypsy gang, searching in vain. Then my time came, and I saw you. It was at Liverpool, embarking on board a vessel for America. I had money—made in those two yeas wandering—hidden in my breast, more than enough for my passage. I crossed the Atlantic in the same vessel with you, and never lost sight of you since.
“But a great, a mighty shock was waiting for me this side the ocean. On the pier, as we landed, Mollie, the first person my eyes rested on was the man Walls—older, darker, sterner than when I saw him before, but my arch-enemy—the murderer Walls.
“Mollie, I let you go and I followed that man home, followed him to a mansion that was like a palace, and I heard his name—his real name. Mollie, Mollie, do you need to be told what that name is?”
“No,” said Mollie, in a horror-struck voice; “it is Carl Walraven!”
“It is. Now do you know why I hate him—why I would die the death of a dog by the way-side before I would take a crust from him?”
“And yet,” Mollie cried in a voice of bitter anguish, “you have let me, James Dane’s child, eat of his bread, drink of his cup, dwell under his roof! Oh, my mother!”
At that piercing cry of unutterable reproach, the dying woman held up her supplicating hands.
“It was because I loved you a thousand times better than myself—better than my revenge. Forgive me, Mollie—forgive me!”
“You are my mother, and you are dying,” Mollie said, solemnly, bending down and kissing her. “I forgive you everything. But I will never set foot under Carl Walraven’s roof again.”
DEAD AND BURIED.
The twilight was falling without—the last silvery radiance of the dying day streamed through the dirty, broken attic window, and lighted, as with a pale glory, Mollie’s drooping head and earnest, saddened face.
Miriam had fallen back upon the pillow, exhausted, panting, laboring for breath.