We spent a happy week together after the return of my friends to Littleton. The only shadow upon our happiness was the thought—how soon we must be parted, perhaps for life. From all I observed of Mr. Harringford I thought him to be worthy, in every respect, of the bride he had won.
Happy days pass swiftly by, and the morning soon arrived when we must bid each other adieu. Before we parted, Mrs. Harringford drew a costly diamond ring from her finger, and, placing it upon mine, said,—
“Wear this, my dear Clara, for my sake; and, when you look upon it think of me, who will often think of you, and will pray for your happiness both here and here-after.”
The moment of parting had arrived. We parted on the piazza of the Profile House; they to proceed on their journey, and I to return to my uncle and aunt.
I have never since met with Mrs. Harringford. The ring she gave me at parting still encircles my finger, and when I gaze upon it I often think of the loved friend who placed it there.
I received an affectionate welcome from my uncle and aunt upon my return, and I was truly glad to find myself once more at home. Mrs. Harringford had promised to take an early opportunity of writing to me, and I had requested her to give me some account of the Leightons. Separate from other causes, I felt anxious to hear from Birdie and Lewis, for I was strongly attached to those two affectionate children. A letter from her arrived in due time. After giving me information of many of my former friends, she said,—
“And now, Clara, it only remains for me to give you an account of my visit to Mrs. Leighton, although I fear I shall give you pain instead of pleasure by so doing. When I called on Mrs. Leighton, I was struck with surprise at her changed appearance. You doubtless remember, Clara, what beautiful hair Mrs. Leighton had. You will scarcely credit me when I inform you that it is now thickly sprinkled with grey. She appeared like one who struggled with some secret sorrow. An air of sadness seemed to reign in the home, where formerly all was joy and happiness. Mrs. Leighton so strongly urged us to spend the night with them that we could not refuse. Laura was absent, visiting some friends in the country. Georgania and Bertha were both absent, attending school. Lewis has not yet been sent from home, but attends school in the city. He has grown a fine, manly-looking boy. He made many enquiries of me, if I had seen or heard from you? I was sorry that I was not at liberty to tell him how lately I had seen you, for I am sure that it would have afforded him much pleasure. My enquiry for Willie caused a pained expression to cross the countenance of both Mr. and Mrs. Leighton. Mr. Leighton replied briefly by saying, ‘Willie is at present in England.’ Later in the evening, when the gentlemen had gone out, Mrs. Leighton said to me,—’As you are an old friend, Mrs. Harringford, I will explain