Remember, kind reader, that, although I had expected never again to meet with Willie Leighton, I still loved him with all the strength of a first love.
Before I could frame a reply to the last remark of Mrs. Leighton, the door opened, and Willie, accompanied by his father, entered the room.
I pass over our meeting. But Mr. Leighton, soon after, placing my hand in that of Willie, said,—“God bless you, my children; may you be happy.”
When I returned home that evening, it was Willie not Lewis, who accompanied me.
Willie was anxious that an early day should be appointed for our marriage; but I was unwilling that our marriage should take place until the ensuing spring. I wished not so suddenly to leave my uncle for the long wedding tour which Willie had in contemplation.
Laura and Georgania, accompanied by their husbands, came at Christmas to visit their parents. It was indeed a joyful family reunion. We accepted our present happiness, and made no unpleasant allusions to the past. If Georgania retained any of her old ways that were not agreeable, I was too much occupied by my own new-found happiness to be annoyed by them.
Willie generously urged his father to use a portion of the wealth he had inherited from his deceased relative in settling his deranged business affairs, and Mr. Leighton finally accepted the noble offer. Accordingly, he paid off the debts, and again started a business, which, if on a smaller scale than formerly, rested on a firmer basis.
During the winter, my uncle made a will bestowing the chief part of his wealth upon me. The house in which we resided, he intended as a wedding-gift, saying that we must accept of the gift encumbered by the giver, as he wished to reside with me during the remainder of his life.
“I have reserved enough,” said my uncle, “for my own private use; and who has so rightful a claim to the wealth which a kind Providence has bestowed upon me, as the daughter of my twin brother?”
From the time of Willie’s return the health of Mrs. Leighton slowly, but surely, improved; and, when winter softened into the balmy days of spring, her health became fully restored.
We were married on the twentieth of May; and, as Willie had decided upon England for our wedding tour, we sailed immediately after our marriage. We returned to our home, in Philadelphia, in October.
We soon found ourselves permanently settled in our own home, to the great joy of Mrs. O’Flaherty, who still retained her position as house-keeper.
“Indade, me daar misthress,” said she, “an’ it’s good to see yees at home agin; for wasn’t this the lonesom place whiles ye was absint.”
Soon after our return, I mentioned the promise which I made long ago to Aunt Patience, that if I ever should possess a home of my own, I would receive her as an inmate of that home.