By mutual consent, they decided that it was better not to attempt to seek redress from Sanderson. Anna’s letters, written during her convalescence, had remained unanswered, and any effort to force him, either by persuasion or process of law, to right the terrible wrong he had done, was equally repulsive to both mother and daughter.
Mrs. Standish Tremont was also equally out of the question, as a court of final appeal. She had been so piqued with Anna for interfering with her most cherished plans regarding Sanderson and Grace Tremont, that Anna knew well enough that there would only be further humiliation in seeking mercy from that quarter.
So mother and daughter prepared to face the inevitable alone. To this end, Mrs. Moore sold the last of her jewelry. She had kept it, thinking that Anna would perhaps marry some day and appreciate the heirlooms; but such a contingent was no longer to be considered, and the jewelry, and the last of the family silver, were sent to be sold, together with every bit of furniture with which they could dispense, and mother and daughter left the little cottage in Waltham, and went to the town of Belden, New Hampshire,—a place so inconceivably remote, that there was little chance of any of their former friends being able to trace them, even if they should desire to do so.
As the summer days grew shorter, and the hour of Anna’s ordeal grew near, Mrs. Moore had but one prayer in her heart, and that was that her life might be spared till her child’s troubles were over. Since Anna’s illness in the early spring, she had utterly disregarded herself. No complaint was heard to pass her lips. Her time was spent in one unselfish effort to make her daughter’s life less painful. But the strain of it was telling, and she knew that life with her was but the question of weeks, perhaps days. As her physical grasp grew weaker, her mental hold increased proportionately, and she determined to live till she had either closed her child’s eyes in death, or left her with something for which to struggle, as she herself was now struggling.
But the poor mother’s last wish was not to be granted. In the beginning of September, just when the earth was full of golden promise of autumn, she felt herself going. She felt the icy hand of death at her heart and the grim destroyer whispered in her ear: “Make ready.” Oh, the anguish of going just then, when she was needed so sorely by her deceived and deserted child.
“Anna, darling,” she called feebly, “I cannot be with you; I am going—I have prayed to stay, but it was not to be. Your child will comfort you, darling. There is nothing like a child’s love, Anna, to make a woman forget old sorrows—kiss me, dear——” She was gone.
And so Anna was to go down into the valley of the shadow of death alone, and among strangers.
IN DAYS OF WAITING.