“The poor thing has had trouble,” she whispered, “trouble in her day, and it has left deep furrows in her forehead, but it cannot have been like mine. She surely, was never betrayed, or deserted, or had her only child stolen from her. The wretch! I cursed him once, when my heart was harder than it is now. I have forgiven him since, for well as I could, I loved him.”
There was a moaning sound in the winter wind howling about Spring Bank that night, but it suited Densie’s mood, and helped to quiet her spirits, as, until a late hour, she sat by Mrs. Worthington, who aroused up at intervals, saying, in answer to Densie’s inquiries, she was not sick, she was only tired—that sleep would do her good.
And while they were thus together a convict sought his darkened cell and laid him down to rest upon the narrow couch which had been his bed so long. Drearily to him the morning broke, and with the struggling in of the daylight he found upon his floor the handkerchief dropped inadvertently by Mrs. Worthington, and unseen till now. He knew it was not unusual for strangers to visit the cells, and so he readily guessed how it came there, holding it a little more to the light to see the name written so plainly upon it.
“Eliza Worthington.” That was what the convict read, a blur before his eyes, and a strange sensation at his heart. “Eliza Worthington.”
How came she there, and when? Suddenly he remembered the event of yesterday, the woman who fainted, the tall man who carried her out, the beautiful girl who had looked at him so pityingly, and then, while every nerve quivered with intense excitement, he whispered:
“That was my wife! I did not see her face, but she saw me, fainting at the sight.”
Hard, and villainous, and sinful as that man had been, there was a tender chord beneath the villain exterior, and it quivered painfully as he said “fainted at the sight.” This was the keenest pang of the whole, for as Densie Densmore had moaned the previous night, “I loved him once,” so he now, rocking to and fro on his narrow bed, with that handkerchief pressed to his throbbing heart, murmured hoarsely:
“I loved Eliza once, though she would not believe it.”
Then the image of the young man and the girl came up before him, making him start again, for he guessed that man was Hugh, his stepson, while the girl—oh, could that beautiful creature—be—his—daughter!
“Not Adaline, assuredly,” he whispered, “nor Adah, my poor darling Adah. Oh, where is she this morning? I did love Adah,” and the convict moistened Eliza Worthington’s handkerchief with the tears he shed for sweet Adah Hastings.
Outwardly, that day the so-called Sullivan was the same, as he paced up and down the walk, but never since first he began the weary march, had his brain been the seat of thoughts so tumultuous as those stirring within him, the day succeeding Mrs. Worthington’s visit. Where were his victims now? Were they all alive? And would he meet them yet? Would Eliza Worthington ever come there again, or Hugh, and would he see them if they did? Perhaps not, but some time, a few months hence, he would find them, would find Hugh at least, and ask if he knew aught of Adah—Adah, more terribly wronged than even the wife had been.