There was many a tender spot in Hugh Worthington’s heart, and shadow after shadow flitted across his face as he thought how cheerless was his life, and how little there was in his surroundings to make him happy. There was nothing he would not do for people if approached in the right way, but nobody cared for him, unless it were his mother and Aunt Eunice. They seemed to like him, and he reckoned they did, but for the rest, who was there that ever thought of doing him a kindness? Poor Hugh! It was a dreary picture he drew as he sat alone that night, brooding over his troubles, and listening to the moan of the wintry wind—the only sound he heard, except the rattling of the shutters and the creaking of the timbers, as the old house rocked in the December gale.
Suddenly there crept into his mind Adah’s words, “I shall pray for you to-night.” He never prayed, and the Bible given by Golden Hair had not been opened this many a day. Since his dark sin toward Adah he had felt unworthy to touch it, but now that he was doing what he could to atone, he surely might look at it, and unlocking the trunk where it was hidden, he took it from its concealment and opened it reverently, half wondering what he should read first, and if it would have any reference to his present position.
“Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these ye did it unto Me.”
That was what Hugh read in the dim twilight, that the passage on which the lock of hair lay, and the Bible dropped from his hands as he whispered:
“Golden Hair, are you here? Did you point that out to me? Does it mean Adah? Is the God you loved on earth pleased that I should care for her?”
To these queries, there came no answer, save the mournful wailing of the night wind roaring down the chimney and past the sleet-covered window, but Hugh was a happier man for reading that, and had there before existed a doubt as to his duty toward Adah, this would have swept it away.
The storm which visited Kentucky so wrathfully, and was far milder among the New England hills, and in the vicinity of Snowdon, whither our story now tends, was scarcely noticed, save as an ordinary winter’s storm. As yet it had been comparatively warmer in New England than in Kentucky; and Miss Anna Richards, confirmed invalid though she was, had decided that inasmuch as Terrace Hill mansion now boasted a furnace in the cellar, it would hardly be necessary to take her usual trip to the South, so comfortable was she at home, in her accustomed chair, with her pretty crimson shawl wrapped gracefully around her. Besides that, they were expecting her Brother John from Paris, where he had been for the last eighteen months, pursuing his medical profession, and she must be there to welcome him.
Anna was proud of her young, handsome brother, as were the entire family, for on him and his success in life all their future hopes were pending. Aside from being proud, Anna was also very fond of John, because as all were expected to yield to her wishes, she had never been crossed by him, and because he was nearer to her own age, and had evidently preferred her to either of his more stately sisters, Miss Asenath and Miss Eudora, whose birthdays were very far distant from his.