Meantime Hugh, with all a woman’s tenderness, had done for the now reviving stranger what he could, and as his mother began to collect her scattered senses and evince some interest in the matter, he withdrew to call the negroes, judging it prudent to remain away a while, as his presence might be an intrusion. From the first he had felt sure that the individual thrown upon his charity was not a low, vulgar person, as his sister seemed to think. He had not yet seen her face distinctly, for it lay in the shadow, but the long, flowing hair, the delicate hands, the pure white neck, of which he had caught a glimpse as his mother unfastened the stiffened dress, all these had made an impression, and involuntarily repeating to himself, “Poor girl, poor girl,” he strode a second time across the drifts which lay in his back yard, and was soon pounding at old Chloe’s cabin door, bidding her and Hannah dress at once and come immediately to the house.
An indignant growl at being thus aroused from her first sleep was Chloe’s only response, but Hugh knew that his orders were being obeyed.
The change of atmosphere and restoratives applied had done their work, and Mrs. Worthington saw that the long eyelashes began to tremble, while a faint color stole into the hitherto colorless cheeks, and at last the large, brown eyes unclosed and looked into hers with an expression so mournful, so beseeching, that a thrill of yearning tenderness for the desolate young creature shot through her heart, and bending down she said, “Are you better now?”
“Yes, thank you. Where is Willie?” was the low response, the tone thrilling Mrs. Worthington again with emotion.
Even ’Lina started, it was so musical, and coming near she answered: “If it’s the baby you mean, he is here, playing with Rover.”
There was a look of gratitude in the brown eyes, which closed again wearily. With her eyes thus closed, ’Lina had a fair opportunity to scan the beautiful face, with its delicately-chiseled features, and the wealth of lustrous brown hair, sweeping back from the open forehead, on which there was perceptible a faint line, which ’Lina stooped down to examine.
“Mother, mother,” she whispered, drawing back, “look, is not that a mark just like mine?”
Thus appealed to, Mrs. Worthington, too, bent down, but, upon a closer scrutiny, the mark seemed only a small, blue vein.
“She’s pretty,” she said. “I wonder why I feel so drawn toward her?”
’Lina was about to reply, when again the brown eyes looked up, and the stranger asked hesitatingly:
“Where am I? And is he here! Is this his house?”
“Whose house?” Mrs. Worthington asked.
The girl did not answer at once, and when she did her mind seemed wandering.
“I waited so long,” she said, “but he never came again, only the letter which broke my heart. Willie was a baby then, and I almost hated him for a while, but he wasn’t to blame. I wasn’t to blame. I’m glad God gave me Willie now, even if he did take his father from me.”