’And the men asked, “What must we do in that holy place?” To whom it was answered, “You must then receive the comfort of your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow."’ I thought of Elspeth’s last words, ’Old and weak,—old and weak, my dearie.’ Surely they had come true: those aged feet had barely touched the cold water. Gently and tenderly she had been carried across to the green pastures and still waters in the paradise of God.
MISS DARRELL HAS A HEADACHE
I began to feel that Gladys had been away a long time, and to wish for her return. I was much disappointed, then, on receiving a letter from her about a fortnight after Elspeth’s death, telling me that Colonel Maberley had made up his mind to spend Easter in Paris, and that she had promised to accompany them.
‘I shall be sorry to be so long without your companionship,’ she wrote. ’I miss you more than I can say; but I am sure that it is far better for me to remain away as long as possible: the change is certainly doing me good. I am quite strong and well: they spoil me dreadfully, but I think this sort of treatment suits me best.’
It was a long letter, and seemed to be written in a more cheerful mood than usual. There was a charming description of a trip they had taken, with little graceful touches of humour here and there.
I handed the letter silently to Max when he called the next day. I thought that it would be no harm to show it to him. He took it to the window, and was so busy reading it that I had half finished a letter I was writing to Jill before he at last laid it down on my desk.
‘Thank you for letting me see it,’ he said quietly: ’it has been a great pleasure. Somehow, as I read it, it seemed as though the old Gladys Hamilton had written it,—not the one we know now. Indeed, she seems much better.’
‘Yes, and we must make up our minds to do without her,’ I answered, with a sigh.
‘And we shall do so most willingly,’ he returned, with a sort of tacit rebuke to my selfishness, ‘if we know the change is benefiting her.’ And then, with a change of tone, ’What a beautiful handwriting hers is, Ursula!—so firm and clear, so characteristic of the writer. Does she often write you such long, interesting letters? You are much to be envied, my dear. Well, well, the day’s work is waiting for me.’ And with that he went off, without saying another word.
My next visitor was Mr. Hamilton. He came to tell me of an accident case. A young labourer had fallen off a scaffolding, and a compound fracture of the right arm had been the result. He was also badly shaken and bruised, and was altogether in a miserable plight.
I promised, of course, to go to him at once; but he told me that there was no immediate hurry; he had attended to the arm and left him very comfortable, and he would do well for the next hour or two; and, as Mr. Hamilton seemed inclined to linger for a little chat, I could not refuse to oblige him.