“Dear Charlie! darling Charlie! I knew he was not false, and I thank the kind Father for bringing him at last to me.”
Hiding it in her bosom, Anna took the other letter then, and throwing her shawl around her, for she was beginning to shiver with cold, sat down by the window and read it through—read it once, read it twice, read it thrice, and then—sure never were the inmates of Terrace Hill thrown into so much astonishment and alarm as they were that April morning, when, in her cambric night robe, her long hair falling unbound about her shoulders, and her bare feet, gleaming white and cold upon the floor, Miss Anna went screaming from room to room, and asking her wonder-stricken mother and sisters if they had any idea who it was that had been an inmate of their house for so many weeks.
“Come with me, then,” she almost screamed, and dragging her mother to her room, where Willie sat up in bed, looking curiously about him and uncertain whether to cry or to laugh, she exclaimed, “Look at him, mother, and you, too, Asenath and Eudora!” turning to her sisters, who had followed. “Tell me who is he like? He is John’s child. And Rose was Lily, the young girl whom you forbade him to marry! Listen, mother, you shall listen to what your pride has done!” and grasping the bewildered Mrs. Richards by the arm, Anna held her fast while she read aloud the letter left by Adah.
Mrs. Richards fainted. She soon recovered, however, and listened eagerly while Anna repeated all her brother had ever told her of Lily.
Poor Willie! He was there in the bed, looking curiously at the four women, none of whom seemed quite willing to own him save Anna. Her heart took him in at once. He had been given to her. She would be faithful to the trust, and folding him in her arms, she cried softly over him, kissing his little face and calling him her darling.
“Anna, how can you fondle such as he?” Eudora asked, rather sharply.
“He is our brother’s child. Mother, you will not turn from your grandson,” and Anna held the boy toward her mother, who did not refuse to take him.
Asenath always went with her mother, and at once showed signs of relenting by laying her hand on Willie’s head and calling him “poor boy.” Eudora held out longer, but Anna knew she would yield in time, and satisfied with Willie’s reception so far, went on to speak of Adah. Where was she, did they suppose, and what were the best means of finding her.
At this Mrs. Richards demurred, as did Asenath with her.
“Adah was gone, and they had better let her go quietly. She was nothing to them, nothing whatever, and if they took Willie in, doing their best with him as one of the Richards’ line, it was all that could be required of them. Had Adah been John’s wife, it would of course be different, but she was not, and his marriage with ’Lina must not now be prevented.”
This was Mrs. Richards’ reasoning, but Anna’s was different.