As it frequently happens that when an individual is talked or thought about, that individual appears, so Adah now came in, asking how Hugh was, and if she should not sit a while with him.
Hugh’s face brightened at once, for next to Alice he liked best to have Adah with him. With ’Lina’s letter still fresh in his mind it was very natural for him to think of what was said of Augusta Stanley, and after Adah had sat a moment, he asked if she remembered such a person at Madam Dupont’s school, or Lottie Gardner either.
“Yes, I remember them both,” and Adah looked up quickly. “Lottie was proud and haughty, though quite popular with most of the girls, I believe; but Augusta—oh, I liked her so much. Do you know her?”
“No; but Ad, it seems, has ingratiated herself into the good graces of Mrs. Ellsworth, this Augusta’s sister. There’s a brother, too’—”
“Yes, I remember. He came one day with Augusta, and all the girls were so delighted. I hardly noticed him myself, for my head was full of George. It was there I met him first, you know.”
There was a shadow now on Adah’s face, and she sat silent for some time, thinking of the past, while Hugh watched the changes of her beautiful face, wondering what was the mystery which seemed to have shrouded the whole of her young life.
“You have done me a great deal of good,” he said; “and sometimes I think it’s wrong in me to let you go away, when, if I kept you, you might teach me how to be a good man—a Christian man, I mean.”
“Oh, if you only would be one,” and the light which shone in Adah’s eyes seemed born of Heaven. “I am going, it is true, but there is One who will stay with you—One who loves you so much.”
He thought she meant Alice, and he grasped her hand, and exclaimed:
“Loves me, Adah, does she? Say it again! Does Alice Johnson love me, me? Hugh? Did she tell you so? Adah,” and Hugh spoke vehemently, “I have admitted to you what an hour ago I fancied nothing could wring from me, but I trust to your discretion not to betray it; certainly not to her, not to Alice, for, of course, there is no hope. You do not think there is? You know her better than I,” and he looked wistfully at Adah, who felt constrained to answer:
“There might have been, I’m sure, if she had seen no one else.”
“Then she has—she does love another?” and Hugh’s face was white as ashes.
“I do not know that she loves him; she did not say so,” Adah replied, thinking it better for Hugh that he should know the whole. “There was a boy or youth, who saved her life at the peril of his own, and she remembered him so long, praying for him daily that God would bring him to her again, so she could thank him for his kindness.”
Poor Hugh. He saw clearly now how it all was. He had suffered his uncle, who affected a dislike for “Hugh,” to call him “Irving.” He had also, for no reason at all, suffered Alice to think he was a Stanley, and this was the result.