Once fully in the light, where Hugh could discern the features plainer, he began to be less sure of having met his guest before, for that immense mustache and those well-trimmed whiskers had changed the doctor’s physiognomy materially.
’Lina was glad to see the doctor. She had even cried at his delay, and though no one knew it, had sat up nearly the whole preceding night, waiting and listening by her open window for any sound to herald his approach.
As the result of this long vigil, her head ached dreadfully the next day, and even the doctor noticed her burning cheeks and watery eyes, and feeling her rapid pulse asked if she were ill.
She was not, she said; she had only been troubled because he did not come, and then for once in her life she did a womanly act. She laid her head in the doctor’s lap and cried, just as she had done the previous night. He understood the cause of her tears at last, and touched with a greater degree of tenderness for her than he had ever before experienced, he smoothed her glossy black hair, and asked:
“Would you be very sorry to lose me?”
Selfish and hard as she was, ’Lina loved the doctor, and with a shudder as she thought of the deception imposed on him, and a half regret that she had so deceived him, she replied:
“I am not worthy of you. I do love you very much, and it would kill me to lose you now. Promise that when you find, as you will, how bad I am, you will not hate me!”
It was an attempt at confession, but the doctor did not so construe it. Poor ’Lina. It is not often we have seen her thus—gentle, softened, womanly; so we will make the most of it, and remember it in the future.
The bright sunlight of the next morning was very exhilarating, and though the doctor, who had risen early, was disappointed in Spring Bank, he was not at all suspicious, and greeted his bride-elect kindly, noticing, while he did so, how her cheeks alternately paled, and then grew red, while she seemed to be chilly and cold. ’Lina had passed a wretched night, tossing from side to side, bathing her throbbing head and rubbing her aching limbs. The severe cold taken in the wet yard was making itself visible, and she came to the breakfast table jaded, wretched and sick, a striking contrast to Alice Johnson, who seemed to the doctor more beautiful than ever. She was unusually gay this morning, for while talking to Dr. Richards, whom she had met in the parlor, she had, among other things concerning Snowdon, said to him, casually, as it seemed:
“Anna has a waiting maid at last. You saw her, of course?”
Somehow the doctor fancied Alice wished him to say yes, and as he had seen Adah’s back, he replied at once:
“Oh, yes, I saw her. Fine looking for a servant. Her little boy is splendid.”