Kate spoke no word, nor did she shed a tear.
“It was my heart’s desire ye should know it,” said the Scotchman, “an’ I came mony a weary league to tell ye so.”
“Ben,” said she, “I think I have known it for a long time, but I would not suffer myself to believe it; but now, having heard your words, I am sure of it.”
“Uncle,” said she an hour afterward, “I have no father, and I never had one.”
With tears in his eyes he folded her to his breast, and peace began to rise in his soul. No greater blessing can come to really good people than the absolute disappearance of the wicked.
And the wickedness which had so long shadowed and stained the life of Kate Bonnet was now removed from it. It was hard to get away from the shadow and to wipe off the stain, but she was a brave girl and she did it.
In this work of her life—a work which if not accomplished would make that life not worth the living—Kate was much helped by Dickory; and he helped her by not saying a word about it or ever allowing himself, when in her presence, to remember that there had been a shadow or a stain. And if he thought of it at all when by himself, his only feeling was one of thankfulness that what had happened had given her to him.
Even the Governor brightened. He had striven hard to keep from Kate the news which had come to him from Charles Town, suppressing it in the hopes that it might reach her more gradually and with less terrible effect than if he told it, but now that he knew that she knew it the blessings which are shed abroad by the disappearance of the wicked affected him also, and he brightened. There were no functions for Kate, but she brightened, striving with all her soul to have this so, for her own sake as well as that of others. As for Mr. Delaplaine, Dame Charter, and Dickory, they brightened without any trouble at all, the disappearance of the wicked having such a direct and forcible effect upon them.
Dickory Charter, who matured in a fashion which made everybody forget that Kate Bonnet was eleven months his senior, entered into business with Mr. Delaplaine, and Jamaica became the home of this happy family, whose welfare was founded, as on a rock, upon the disappearance of the wicked.
Here, then, was a brave girl who had loved her father with a love which was more than that of a daughter, which was the love of a mother, of a wife; who had loved him in prosperity and in times of sorrow and of shame; who had rejoiced like an angel whenever he turned his footsteps into the right way, and who had mourned like an angel whenever he went wrong. She had longed to throw her arms around her father’s neck, to hold him to her, and thus keep off the hangman’s noose. Her courage and affection never waned until those arms were rudely thrust aside and their devoted owner dastardly repulsed.
True to herself and to him, she loved her father so long as there was anything parental in him which she might love; and, true to herself, when he had left her nothing she might love, she bowed her head and suffered him, as he passed out of his life, to pass out of her own.