Sometimes the wild thought crossed his mind that possibly he might win her for himself, but it was repudiated as soon as formed, and so, between hope and a kind of blissful despair, blissful so long as Alice stayed with him as she was now, Hugh lived on, until at last the evening came when Adah was to leave Spring Bank on the morrow. She had intended going immediately after the sale at Mosside, but Willie had been ailing ever since, and that had detained her. Everything which Alice could do for her had been done. Old Sam, at thoughts of parting with his little charge, had cried his dim eyes dimmer yet. Mrs. Worthington, too, had wept herself nearly sick, for now that the parting drew near she began to feel how dear to her was the young girl who had come to them so strangely.
“More like a daughter you seem to me,” she had said to Adah, in speaking of her going; “and once I had a wild—” here she stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished, for she did not care to tell Adah of the shock it had given her when Hugh first pointed out to her the faint mark on Adah’s forehead.
It was fainter now even than then, for with increasing color and health it seemed to disappear, and Mrs. Worthington could scarcely see it, when with a caressing movement of her hand she put the silken hair back from Adah’s brow and kissed the bluish veins.
“There is none there. It was all a fancy,” she murmured to herself, and then thinking of ’Lina, she said to Adah what she had all along meant to say, that if the Richards’ family should question her of ’Lina, she was to divulge nothing to her disparagement, whether she were rich or poor, high or low. “You must not, of course, tell any untruths. I do not ask that, but I—oh, I sometimes wish they need not know that you came from here, as that would save all trouble, and ’Lina is so—so—”
Mrs. Worthington did not finish the sentence, for Adah instantly silenced her by answering frankly:
“I do not intend they shall know, not at present certainly.”
Adah retired early, as did both Mrs. Worthington and Densie, for all were unusually tired; only Hugh, as he supposed, was up, and he sat by the parlor fire where they had passed the evening. He was very sorry Adah was going, but it was not so much of her he was thinking as of Alice. Had she dreamed of his real feelings, she never would have done what she did, but she was wholly unconscious of it, and so, when, late that night, she returned to the parlor in quest of something she had left, and found him sitting there alone, she paused a moment on the threshold, wondering if she had better join him or go away. His back was toward her, and he did not hear her light step, so intently was he gazing into the burning grate, and trying to frame the words he should say if ever he dared tell Alice Johnson of his love.
There was much girlish playfulness in Alice’s nature, and sliding across the carpet, she clasped both her hands before his eyes, and exclaimed: