“Dead, both she and the child.”
He did not know there was a child, and he staggered in his sleep, just as he staggered down the creaking stairs, repeating to himself:
“Lily’s child—Lily’s child. May Lily’s God forgive me.”
The Sabbath dawned at last. The doctor had not yet made his appearance in the village, and Saturday had been spent by him in rehearsing to his sisters and the servants the wonderful things he had seen abroad, and in lounging listlessly by a window which overlooked the town, and also commanded a view of the tasteful cottage by the riverside, where they told him Mrs. Johnson lived. One upper window he watched with peculiar interest, from the fact that, early in the day, a head had protruded from it a moment, as if to inhale the wintry air, and then been quickly withdrawn.
“Does Miss Johnson wear curls?” he asked, rather indifferently, with his eye still on the cottage by the river.
“Yes; a great profusion of them,” was Mrs. Richards’ reply, and then the doctor knew he had caught a glimpse of Alice Johnson, for the head he had seen was covered with curls, he was sure.
But little good did a view at that distance afford him. He must see her nearer ere he decided as to her merits to be a belle. He did not believe her face would at all compare with the one which continually haunted his dreams, and over which the coffin lid was shut weary months ago, but fifty thousand dollars had invested Miss Alice with that peculiar charm which will sometimes make an ugly face beautiful. The doctor was beginning to feel the need of funds, and now that Lily was dead, the thought had more than once crossed his mind that to set himself at once to the task of finding a wealthy wife was a duty he owed himself and his family. Had poor, deserted Lily lived; had he found her in New York, he could not tell what he might have done, for the memory of her sweet, gentle love was the one restraining influence which kept him from much sin. He never could forget her; never love another as he had once loved her, but she was dead, and it was better, so he reasoned, for now was he free to do his mother’s will, and take a wife worthy of a Richards.
Anna was not with the party which at the usual hour entered the family carriage with Bibles and prayer books in hand. She seldom went out except on warm, pleasant days; but she stood in the deep bay window watching the carriage as it wound down the hill, thinking first how pleasant and homelike the Sabbath bells must sound to Charlie this day, and secondly, how handsome and stylish her young brother looked with his Parisian cloak and cap, which he wore so gracefully. Others than Anna thought so, too; and at the church door there was quite a little stir, as he gallantly handed out first his mother and then his sisters, and followed them into the church.