Now her hand touches John’s face. Imagine the intense thrill that sweeps over his frame at the impact. Soul speaks to soul, heart answers heart.
The woman begins to tremble. The look of frightened wonder upon her face gives way to one of astonishment.
“It is no illusion! Alive! Oh, what does this mean? Where am I? Who are you?”
Thus the broken sentences fell from her lips, as though she hardly knows what she says.
John can only think of one reply, and as he puts out his hands, his whole heart is contained in the whispered words:
“Oh, my mother!”
This seems to break the spell. In another instant she has eagerly clasped her arms around his neck.
“Heaven be praised; my prayer is answered. My child has sought me out.”
It is the magic power of love.
John’s face tells his great joy. Words are denied them for some little time, but with brimming eyes they gaze into each other’s face.
“Oh! mother, I have searched for you in many lands. For years I have longed to see you, to tell you that my heart believed in you. By the kindness of Heaven, that time has come.”
“And you, my own boy, you believe me innocent, worthy of your love, though the world called me guilty?” she murmurs.
“Yes, because of the great love I bear you, I would believe it against all. Oh! my mother, how barren my life has been, without your companionship, your love. Many, many nights I have wept bitter tears of anguish to think of you somewhere upon the face of the earth, wandering alone, because of circumstantial evidence.”
Again from the darkness beyond the court, comes that deep, terrible groan. The old Moor turns his head as though he does not understand it; but the tableau in front is too dramatic to be lost.
“I began to believe I should have to quit this world of woes without seeing you, for though I do not wish to disturb your happiness, my poor boy, you must see from my looks that I am fading like a flower in the fall; that the monster, consumption, is sapping my life. Still, I may live some years to enjoy your love; be of good cheer. How strange to see you a man grown, you whom I left almost a babe. And, John, you so closely resemble, as I knew him then, your father, my poor deceived Duncan, whom Heaven knows I have never ceased to remember with love; who wronged me terribly, but the circumstances were fearfully against me. Heaven has purified my heart by suffering.”
“I can stand this no longer!” cries a voice, and a man rushes into view, advancing until he stands before them. “My eyes have been opened to the truth. In bitter tears I repent the sorrowful past. Blanche, behold your husband, unworthy to kiss the hem of your garment.”
John has been so amazed at the sight of this newcomer that he can not move a hand or foot. He immediately recognizes his father, of course, but the fact of Duncan Craig being present in this place is what temporarily paralyzes him.