“Oh, my boy, I am so glad, so glad!” and her tears dropped fast, as like a weary child, which wanted to be soothed, she laid her head upon his bosom, crying quietly.
And Hugh, stronger now than she, held the poor, tired head there, and kissed the white forehead, where there were more wrinkles now than when he last observed it. His mother was growing old with care rather than with years, and Hugh shuddered, as, for the first time in his life, he thought how dreadful it would be to have no mother. Folding his weak arms about her, mother and son wept together in that moment of perfect understanding and union with each other. Hugh was the first to rally. It seemed so pleasant to lean on him, to know that he cared so much for her, that Mrs. Worthington would gladly have rested on his bosom longer, but Hugh was anxious to know the worst, and brought her back to something of the old, sad life, by asking if the letter were from ’Lina.
“Yes; I can’t make it out, for one of my glasses is broken, and you know she writes so blind.”
“It never troubles me,” and taking the letter from her unresisting hand, Hugh asked that another pillow should be placed beneath his head, while he read it aloud.
“You see that thousand is almost gone, and as board is two and a half dollars per day, I can’t stay long and shop in Broadway with old Mrs. Richards, as I am expected to do in my capacity of heiress. I tell you, Spring Bank, Kentucky—crazy old rat trap as it is, has done wonders for me in the way of getting me noticed. If I had any soul, big enough to find with a microscope, I believe I should hate the North for cringing so to anything from Dixie. Let the veriest vagabond in all the South, so ignorant that he can scarcely spell baker correctly, to say nothing of biscuit, let him, I say, come to any one of the New York hotels, and with something of a swell write himself from Charleston, or any other Southern city, and bless me, what deference is paid to my lord!
“You see I am a pure Southern woman here; nobody but Mrs. Richards knows that I was born, mercy knows where. But for you, she never need have known it either, but you must tell that we had not always lived in Kentucky.
“But to do Mrs. Richards justice, she never alludes to my birth. She takes it for granted that I moved, like Douglas, when I was very young, and you ought to hear her introduce me to some of her aristocratic friends. ’Mrs. So and So, Miss Worthington, from Spring Bank, Kentucky,’ then in an aside, which I am not supposed to hear, she adds, ’A great heiress, of a very respectable family. You may have heard of them.’ Somehow, this always makes me uncomfortable, as it brings up certain cogitations touching that scamp you were silly enough to marry, thereby giving me to the world, which my delectable brother no doubt thinks would have been better off without me. How is Hugh? And how is that Hastings woman?