Hugh cared nothing for that governess, and after a little, thinking he was not wanted, stole quietly away, and being moodily inclined, rambled off to ’Lina’s grave, half wishing, as he stood there in the moonlight, that he, too, was lying beside it.
“Were I sure of heaven, it would be a blessed thing to die,” he thought, “for this world has little in it to make me happy. Oh, Alice, Golden Hair, I could almost wish we had never met, though, as I told her once, I would rather have loved and lost her than never have loved her at all.”
Poor Hugh! He was mistaken with regard to Alice. She was not listening to love words. She was telling Irving Stanley as much of ’Lina’s sad story as she thought necessary, and Irving, though really interested, was, we must confess, too intent on watching the changing expressions of her beautiful face to comprehend it clearly in all its complicated parts.
He understood that ’Lina was not, and that a certain Adah Hastings was, Mrs. Worthington’s child; understood, too, that Adah was the wife of Dr. Richards—that she had at some time, not quite clear to him, been at Terrace Hill, but he somehow received the impression that she eventually fled from Spring Bank after recognizing the doctor, and never once thought of associating her with the young woman to whom, many months previously, he had been so kind in the crowded car, and whose sad, brown eyes had haunted him at intervals ever since.
Irving Stanley was not what could well be called fickle. He admired ladies indiscriminately, respected them all, liked some very much, and next to Alice was more attracted by and pleased with Adah’s face than any he had ever seen save that of “the Brownie,” which seemed to him much like it. He had thought of Adah often, but had as often associated her with some tall, bewhiskered man, who loved her and her little boy as she deserved to be loved. With this idea constantly before him, Adah had gradually faded from his mind, leaving there only the image of one who had made the strongest impression upon him of any whom he yet had met. Alice Johnson, she was the star he followed now, hers the presence which would make that projected tour through Europe all sunshine. Irving had decided to be married; his mother said he ought; Augusta said he ought; Mrs. Ellsworth said he ought; and so, as Hugh suspected, he had come to Kentucky for the sole purpose of asking Alice to be his wife. At sight, however, of Hugh, so much improved, so gentlemanly, and so fine looking, his heart began to misgive him, and Hugh would have been surprised could he have known that Irving Stanley was as jealous of him as he was of Irving Stanley. Yet, such was the fact, and it was a hard matter to tell which was the more miserable of the two, Irving or Hugh, when at last the latter returned from ’Lina’s grave, and seated himself upon the moon-lighted piazza, a little apart from the lovers, as he believed Irving and Alice to be.