“Brother is away now, hunting for Adah, and I am wicked enough not to miss him, so busy am I in the few preparations needed by the wife of a poor missionary.”
Then, in a postscript. Anna added: “I forgot to tell you that Charlie and I are to be married some time in July, that the Presbyterian Society of Snowdon has given him a call to be their pastor, that he has accepted, and what is best of all, has actually rented your old home for us to live in. I don’t know how it will seem to stop on Sundays at the meeting house instead of keeping on to our dear, old St. Luke’s. I love the service dearly, but I love my Charlie more, notwithstanding that he calls me his little heretic, and accuses me of proselytizing intentions towards himself. I have never confessed it before, but, seriously, I have strong hopes of seeing him yet in surplice and gown; but till that time comes, I shall be a real good Presbyterian, or orthodox, as they are called here in Massachusetts.
“Perhaps you may have heard that mother was once much opposed to Charlie. I must say, however, that she has done well at the last, for when I told her I had found him, and that we were to be married, she said she was glad on the whole, as it relieved her of a load, and she hoped I would be happy.”
Anna did not explain to Alice that the load of which her mother was relieved was mostly Charlie’s hidden letters, given up with a full confession of the pains taken to conceal them, and a frank acknowledgment of wrong to Anna, who, as her letter indicated, was far too happy to be angry for a single moment. With a smile, Alice finished the childlike letter, so much like Anna. Then feeling that Hugh would be glad to hear from Willie, she went in quest of him, finding him at the end of the long piazza, where he sat gazing vacantly at the open letter in his hand—Irving Stanley’s letter, which he passed at once to Alice in exchange for Anna’s given to him.
Glancing at the name at the bottom of the page, Alice blushed painfully, feeling rather than seeing that Hugh was watching her, and guessing of what he was thinking. Irving did not know of ’Lina’s death. From Dr. Richards, whom he had accidentally met on Broadway, he had heard of her sudden illness, and apparently accepted that as the reason why the marriage was not consummated. Intuitively, however, he felt that there must be something behind, but he was far too well-bred to ask any idle questions, and in his letter he merely inquired after ’Lina, as after any sick friend, playfully hoping that for the sake of the doctor, who looked very blue, she would soon recover and make him the happiest man alive. Then followed some allusions to the relationship existing between himself and Hugh, with regrets that more had not been made of it, and then he said that having decided to accompany his sister and Mrs. Ellsworth on her tour to Europe, whither she would go the latter part of July, and having nothing in particular to occupy him in the interim, he would, with Hugh’s permission, spend a few days at Spring Bank. He did not say he was coming to see Alice Johnson, but Hugh understood it just the same, feeling confident that his sole object in visiting Kentucky was to take Alice back with him, and carry her off to Europe.