This was a heavy blow to a person of Lady Rosamond’s sensitive nature. The thought was revolting to her. For some time previous a dim foreboding haunted her—a presentiment of gloom and of deep sorrow. On receiving the letter its weight seemed to lie heavily upon her. Now the contents again caused her much pain. To whom could she go for comfort? To whom unburden her mind? Leaning her head upon the table Lady Rosamond sought refuge in tears. She sobbed bitterly. “It is at this trying moment I miss my dear mother,” murmured the poor girl in faltering accents of outspoken grief. “Heaven pity those who have no mother. With her loving and tender heart my mother never would have allowed the sanctity of my feelings to be thus invaded and trampled upon. And my dear father, I love him, but can I fulfil his wishes? It is my duty! Oh, heaven direct me!”
Poor Lady Rosamond! Her sorrow was indeed deep. In the midst of such murmurs she arose, walked to the window, and once more fanned her cheeks with the cooling breath of heaven, which afforded momentary relief.
As the large plate mirror opposite reflected the tear stains upon her pale but lovely face, Lady Rosamond resolved to banish all traces of sorrow. Returning from the adjoining dressing-room not a shade clouded the features of the suffering girl. The silken ringlets of her raven black hair were rearranged with bewildering profusion, while the feverish blush added to her surpassing charms. A faint smile passed over Lady Rosamond’s features as she tried to appear gay and assumed those girlish charms which made friends on every side, from Sir Howard to the youngest member in the household. “Oh, dear, what shall I do?” escaped the lips of the sufferer. “What will bring this matter to an end?” But pride would not allow Lady Rosamond to reveal her feelings. She would be a true Seymour. It were well that she possessed this spirit, being in this instance an offset to injured delicacy.
Having remained in privacy longer than it was customary, she reluctantly prepared to meet the family. Descending the upper stairway, she was met by one of the children who had come to summon her to join them in a walk.
Lady Rosamond was always a favorite with children and the family of Sir Howard formed no exception. They loved to accompany her on long walks in search of any thing the surrounding woods afforded. Scarce two months had passed since their arrival and they were familiar with all the cosy retreats, nooks and pretty spots to be found. Surrounded by her followers, Lady Rosamond appeared as a naiad holding revel with her sylvan subjects.
In her present mood the woods seemed to suggest calm. With her companion, Mary Douglas, and the romping children, Lady Rosamond was seemingly happy. A slight accident occurred which somewhat disturbed the enjoyment of all, more especially those whom it most concerned.