‘It is with the pleasure of seeing you,’ returned Phoebe. ’If you only knew what I suffered while you lay ill! “there is no improvement,” they said, and Miss Garston looked at me so pityingly; and if you had died and never spoken to me again,—and I had refused to bid you good-night,—you remember, Susan! oh, I think my heart would have broken if you had gone away and left me like that.’
’Nay, I should have thought nothing about it, but that it was just Phoebe’s way. Do you mean that you fretted about that, lass? Oh,’ turning to me, for Phoebe was crying bitterly over the recollection, ’I would not believe you, Miss Garston, when you said Phoebe was changed, for I said to myself, “Surely she will be up to her old tricks again soon”; but now I see you are right. Nay, never fret, my bonnie woman, for I loved you when you were as tiresome and cross-grained as possible. I think I cannot help loving yon,’ finished Susan simply, as she took her sister’s hand.
That was a happy evening that we spent in Phoebe’s room. When tea was over we read a few chapters, Kitty and I, and then I sang some of Phoebe’s favourite songs. When I had finished, I looked at them: Phoebe had fallen asleep with Susan’s hand still in hers: there was a look of peaceful rest on the worn gray face that made me whisper to Miss Locke,—
‘The evil spirit is cast out at last, Susan.’
‘Ay,’ returned Susan quietly. ’She is clothed and in her right mind, and I doubt not sitting at the feet of Him who has called her. I have got my Phoebe back again, thank God, as I have not seen her for many a long year.’
I HEAR ABOUT CAPTAIN HAMILTON
It was now more than five weeks since Gladys had left us, but during that time I had heard from her frequently.
Her letters were deeply interesting. She wrote freely, pouring out her thoughts on every subject without reserve. Somehow I felt, as I read them, that those letters gave as much pleasure to the writer as to the recipient; and I found afterwards that this was the case. Her consciousness of my sympathy with her made her open her heart more freely to me than to any other person. She delighted in telling me of the books she read, in describing the various effects of nature. Her descriptions were so powerful and graphic that they quite surprised me. She made me feel as though I were walking through the fir woods beside her, or standing on the sea-shore watching the white-crested waves rolling in and breaking into foam at our feet. A sort of dewy freshness seemed to stamp the pages. Gladys loved nature with all her heart; she revelled in the solemn grandeur of those woods, in the breadth and freedom of the ocean; it seemed to harmonise with her varying moods.
‘I feel a different creature already,’ she wrote when she had been away a fortnight. ’Without owning myself happy (but happiness, active or negative, will never come to me again), still I am calmer and more at peace,—away from the oppressive influences that surrounded me at home.