“Poor Densie! poor auntie!” was all Alice said, as she regarded with horror the man, who went on:
“Yes, baby was gone—gone to my mother’s, in a part of the city where there was no probability of its being found and I was gone, too. You are shocked, fair maiden, and well you may be,” the convict said.
“In course of time there was a daughter born to me and to Eliza; a sweet little, brown-haired, brown-eyed girl, whom we named Adaline.”
Instinctively every one in that room glanced at the black eyes and hair of ’Lina, marveling at the change.
“I loved this little girl, as it was natural I should, more than I loved the other, whose mother was a servant. Besides that, she was not so deeply branded as the other; see—” and pushing back the thick locks from his forehead, he disclosed his birthmark, while ’Lina suddenly put her hand where she knew there was another like it.
“At last there came a separation. Eliza would not live with me longer and I went away, but pined so for my child that I contrived to steal her, and carried her to my mother, where was the other one. ’Twas there you tracked me, Densie. You came one day, enacting a fearful scene, and frightening my children until they fled in terror and hid away from your sight.”
“I remember, I remember now. That’s where I heard the name,” ’Lina said, while the convict continued:
“I said you were a mad woman. I made mother believe it; but she never recovered from the shock, and six weeks after your visit, I was alone with my two girls, Densie and Adaline. I could not attend to them both, and so I sent one to Eliza and kept the other myself, hiring a housekeeper, and to prevent being dogged by Densie again, I passed as Mr. Monroe Gordon, guardian to the little child whom I loved so much.”
“That was Adah,” fell in the whisper from the doctor’s lips, but caught the ear of no one.
All were too intent upon the story, which proceeded:
“She grew, and grew in beauty, my fair, lovely child, and I was wondrously proud of her, giving her every advantage in my power. I sent her to the best of schools, and even looked forward to the day when she should take the position she was so well fitted to fill. After she was grown to girlhood we boarded, she as the ward, I as the guardian still, and then one unlucky day I stumbled upon you, Dr. John, but not until you had first stumbled upon my daughter, and been charmed with her beauty, passing yourself as some one else—as George Hastings, I believe—lest your fashionable associates should know how the aristocratic Dr. Richards was in love with a poor, unknown orphan, boarding up two flights of stairs.”
“Who is he talking about, Hugh? Does he mean me? My head throbs so, I don’t quite understand,” ’Lina said, piteously, while Hugh held the poor aching head against his bosom, crushing the orange blossoms, and whispering softly: