Lewis was recalled from school in the early autumn; and soon after, the news of Mr. Leighton’s failure was eagerly discussed in the business world.
Lewis called to see me soon after his return. He was now a manly youth of fifteen. I was much pleased to see him; and, when he rose to go, after a lengthy call, I invited him to call often upon us. My uncle took a great fancy to the boy, and many evenings found Lewis our guest. I learned from Lewis, and others, that the health of Mrs. Leighton had so much failed that she was now entirely confined to the house.
Mr. Leighton had lately written to Willie, giving him an account of their misfortunes, and of the failing health of his mother; and concluded by earnestly requesting his return home, as he feared that it, was Willie’s absence which was preying so heavily upon the mind of Mrs. Leighton as to cause, in a great measure, her failing health.
Lewis called one evening, and, upon entering the parlor, handed me a note. As I glanced at my name on the envelope, I at once recognized the hand-writing of Mrs. Leighton. Hastily breaking the seal, I read the following lines:—
“Elm Street, Nov. 25th, 18—.
“To Miss Clara Roscom:
“I am extremely anxious for an interview with you; but my state of health will not allow of my leaving my own residence. I therefore earnestly request you to accompany Lewis upon his return home, for I must see you. I am sensible that I have no right to ask of you this favor; but I trust that the kindness of your heart will induce you to comply with my request.
When I had finished reading the note I could not forbear from questioning Lewis as to its meaning; but he refused to give me any information upon the subject, saying he was not at liberty to do so. All he would say of the matter was that his mother had requested him to give me the note, and await my reading of it. For a few moments I felt undecided as to going to the house of Mrs. Leighton; but, the thought that she was ill, and had sent for me, caused me to come to the decision that I would grant her request. I feared not to meet Mrs. Leighton, for I had done her no wrong. I therefore told Lewis that in a few moments I would be ready to accompany him. My uncle wished to send the carriage with me; but I told him it was quite unnecessary, as the distance was short and the evening was very fine, and Lewis had said he would accompany me when I wished to return home.