Euphra laughed a feeble but delighted laugh, and applied the story for herself.
So the winter days passed on.
“I wish I could live till the spring,” said Euphra. “I should like to see a snowdrop and a primrose again.”
“Perhaps you will, dear; but you are going into a better spring. I could almost envy you, Euphra.”
“But shall we have spring there?”
“I think so.”
“I think we shall — better than here.”
“But they will not mean so much.”
“Then they won’t be so good. But I should think they would mean ever so much more, and be ever so much more spring-like. They will be the spring-flowers to all winters in one, I think.”
Folded in the love of this woman, anointed for her death by her wisdom, baptized for the new life by her sympathy and its tears, Euphra died in the arms of Margaret.
Margaret wept, fell on her knees, and gave God thanks. Mrs. Elton was so distressed, that, as soon as the funeral was over, she broke up her London household, sending some of the servants home to the country, and taking some to her favourite watering place, to which Harry also accompanied her.
She hoped that, now the affair of the ring was cleared up, she might, as soon as Hugh returned, succeed in persuading him to follow them to Devonshire, and resume his tutorship. This would satisfy her anxiety about Hugh and Harry both.
Hugh’s mother died too, and was buried. When he returned from the grave which now held both father and mother, he found a short note from Margaret, telling him that Euphra was gone. Sorrow is easier to bear when it comes upon sorrow; but he could not help feeling a keen additional pang, when he learned that she was dead whom he had loved once, and now loved better. Margaret’s note informed him likewise that Euphra had left a written request, that her diamond ring should be given to him to wear for her sake.
He prepared to leave the home whence all the homeness had now vanished, except what indeed lingered in the presence of an old nurse, who had remained faithful to his mother to the last. The body itself is of little value after the spirit, the love, is out of it: so the house and all the old things are little enough, after the loved ones are gone who kept it alive and made it home.
All that Hugh could do for this old nurse was to furnish a cottage for her out of his mother’s furniture, giving her everything she liked best. Then he gathered the little household treasures, the few books, the few portraits and ornaments, his father’s sword, and his mother’s wedding-ring; destroyed with sacred fire all written papers; sold the remainder of the furniture, which he would gladly have burnt too, and so proceeded to take his last departure from the home of his childhood.