When Mr. Somers had acquired strength enough for exercise on horseback, Mrs. Dubois, Adele, and John were accustomed to accompany him. Daily, about an hour after breakfast, the little party might have been seen fitting off for a canter through the forest. In the evening, the group was joined by Mr. Dubois and the missionary. The atmosphere being exceedingly dry, both by day and night, they often sat and talked by moonlight, on a balcony, built over the large, porch-like entrance to the main door of the house.
Thus John and Adele daily grew into a more familiar acquaintance.
During the absence of Mr. Dubois at Fredericton, Mr. Somers announced to John that he felt himself strong enough to undertake the ride through the wilderness, and proposed that, as soon as their host returned, they should start on their journey home.
With increasing strength, Mr. Somers had become impatient to return to the duties he had so summarily forsaken.
He wished to test, in active life, his power to maintain the new principles he had espoused and to ascertain if the nobler and holier hopes that now animated him, would give him peace, strength, and buoyancy, amid the temptations and trials of the future.
John, for several days, had been living in a delicious reverie, and was quite startled by the proposition. Though aware how anxiously his parents were awaiting his return, and that there was no reasonable excuse for farther delay, he inwardly repudiated the thought of departure. He even indicated a wish to delay the journey beyond the time Mr. Somers had designated. A piercing look of inquiry from that gentleman recalled him to his senses, and after a moment of hesitation, he assented to the arrangement. But the beautiful dream was broken. He was thrown at once into a tumult of emotion. Unwilling to expose his agitation to the observation of others, he went directly to his room and locked himself in.
After sitting half an hour with his face buried in his hands, the chaos of his soul formed itself into definite shape. His first clear thought was this,—“Without Adele, my life will be a blank. She is absolutely necessary to my existence. I must win her”. A very decided conclusion certainly, for a young gentleman to reach, who when he arrived at this house, but a few weeks before, seemed to be enjoying a liberal share of hope and happiness. The question arose, Does she care for me? Does she regard me with any special interest beyond the kindness and courtesy she accords to all her father’s guests? On this point, he could not satisfy himself. He was torn by a conflict of doubt, hope, and fear. He thought her not averse to him. She conversed, sang, and rode with him as if it were agreeable to her. Indeed she seemed to enjoy his society. But she was equally pleased to converse and ride with Mr. Somers and good Mr. Norton. He was unable to determine the sentiments she really cherished and remained tossed to and fro in painful suspense and agitation.