August 23.—A letter from my father containing the sad news that my mother’s spirit has flown. Poor little Caroline is heart-broken—she was always more my mother’s pet than I was. It is some comfort to know that my father arrived in time to hear from her own lips her strongly expressed wish that Caroline’s marriage should be solemnized as soon as possible. M. de la Feste seems to have been a great favourite of my dear mother’s; and I suppose it now becomes almost a sacred duty of my father to accept him as a son-in-law without criticism.
CHAPTER III.—HER GLOOM LIGHTENS A LITTLE
September 10.—I have inserted nothing in my diary for more than a fortnight. Events have been altogether too sad for me to have the spirit to put them on paper. And yet there comes a time when the act of recording one’s trouble is recognized as a welcome method of dwelling upon it . . .
My dear mother has been brought home and buried here in the parish. It was not so much her own wish that this should be done as my father’s, who particularly desired that she should lie in the family vault beside his first wife. I saw them side by side before the vault was closed—two women beloved by one man. As I stood, and Caroline by my side, I fell into a sort of dream, and had an odd fancy that Caroline and I might be also beloved of one, and lie like these together—an impossibility, of course, being sisters. When I awoke from my reverie Caroline took my hand and said it was time to leave.
September 14.—The wedding is indefinitely postponed. Caroline is like a girl awakening in the middle of a somnambulistic experience, and does not realize where she is, or how she stands. She walks about silently, and I cannot tell her thoughts, as I used to do. It was her own doing to write to M. de la Feste and tell him that the wedding could not possibly take place this autumn as originally planned. There is something depressing in this long postponement if she is to marry him at all; and yet I do not see how it could be avoided.
October 20.—I have had so much to occupy me in consoling Caroline that I have been continually overlooking my diary. Her life was much nearer to my mother’s than mine was. She has never, as I, lived away from home long enough to become self-dependent, and hence in her first loss, and all that it involved, she drooped like a rain-beaten lily. But she is of a nature whose wounds soon heal, even though they may be deep, and the supreme poignancy of her sorrow has already passed.