“Richard, you—you—will not be drawn in again?” were the next whispered words.
“Mother!” There was a sternness in his mild blue eyes as he cast them upon his mother. Those beautiful eyes—the very counterpart of Barbara’s, both his and hers the counterpart of Mrs. Hare’s. The look had been sufficient refutation without words.
“Mother mine, I am going to belong to you in the future, and to nobody else. West Lynne is already busy for me, I understand, pleasantly carving out my destiny. One marvels whether I shall lose myself with Miss Afy; another, that I shall set on offhand, and court Louisa Dobede. They are all wrong; my place will be with my darling mother,—at least, for several years to come.”
She clasped his hand to her bosom in her glad delight.
“We want happiness together, mother, to enable us to forget the past; for upon none did the blow fall, as upon you and upon me. And the happiness we shall find, in our own home, living for each other, and striving to amuse my poor father.”
“Aye, aye,” complacently put in Justice Hare.
So it would be. Richard had returned to his home, had become, to all intent and purposes, its master; for the justice would never be in a state to hold sway again. He had resumed his position; and regained the favor of West Lynne, which, always in extremes, was now wanting to kill him with kindness. A happy, happy home from henceforth; and Mrs. Hare lifted up her full heart in thankfulness to God. Perhaps Richard’s went up also.
One word touching that wretched prisoner in the condemned cell at Lynneborough. As you must have anticipated, the extreme sentence was not carried out. And, little favorite as Sir Francis is with you and with me, we can but admit that justice did not demand that it should be. That he had willfully killed Hallijohn, was certain; but the act was committed in a moment of wild rage; it had not been premeditated. The sentence was commuted to transportation. A far more disgraceful one in the estimation of Sir Francis; a far more unwelcome one in the eyes of his wife. It is no use to mince the truth, one little grain of comfort had penetrated to Lady Levison; the anticipation of the time when she and her ill-fated child should be alone, and could hide themselves in some hidden nook of the wide world; he, and his crime, and his end gone; forgotten. But it seems he was not to go and be forgotten; she and the boy must be tied to him still; and she was lost in horror and rebellion.
He envied the dead Hallijohn, did that man, as he looked forth on the future. A cheering prospect truly! The gay Sir Francis Levison working in chains with his gang! Where would his diamonds and his perfumed handkerchiefs and his white hands be then? After a time he might get a ticket-of-leave. He groaned in agony as the turnkey suggested it to him. A ticket-of-leave for him! Oh, why did they not hang him? he wailed forth as he closed his eyes to the dim light. The light of the cell, you understand; he could not close them to the light of the future. No; never again; it shone out all too plainly, dazzling his brain as with a flame of living fire.