REST FOR THE WEARY.
Therefore, arm thee for the strife
All throughout this mortal life,
Soldier now and servant true,
Earth behind, and heaven in view.
REV. I. WILLIAMS.
The first impression on arriving at Northwold was, that the danger had been magnified. Mrs. Frost’s buoyant spirits had risen at the first respite; and though there was a weight on Mary’s brow, she spoke cheerfully, and as if able to attend to other interests, telling Louis of her father’s wihh for some good workmen to superintend the mines, aud asking him to consult his friends at Illershall on the subject.
Lord Ormersfield came down encouraged by his visit to the invalid, whom he had found dressed and able to converse nearly as usual. She begged him to come to dinner the next day, and spend the evening with her, promising with a smile that if he would bring Louis, their aunt should chaperon Mary.
When the Earl went upstairs after dinner, the other three closed round the fire, and talked in a tranquil, subdued strain, on various topics, sometimes grave, sometimes enlivened by the playfulness inherent in two of the party. Aunt Kitty spoke of her earlier days, and Louis and Mary ventured questions that they would have ordinarily deemed intrusive. Yet it was less the matter than the manner of their dialogue—the deep, unavowed fellow-feeling and mutual reliance—which rendered it so refreshing and full of a kind of repose. Louis felt it like the strange bright stillness, when birds sing their clearest, fullest notes, and the horizon reach of sky beams with the softest, brightest radiance, just ere it be closed out by the thunder-cloud, whose first drops are pausing to descend; and to Mary it was peace—peace which she was willing gratefully to taste to the utmost, from the instinctive perception that the call had come for her to brace all her powers of self-control and fortitude; while to the dear old aunt, besides her enjoyment of her darling’s presence, each hour was a boon that she could believe the patient or the daughter, relieved and happy.
Louis was admitted for a few minutes’ visit to the sick-chamber, and went up believing that he ought to be playful and cheerful; but he was nearly overcome by Mrs. Ponsonby’s own brightness, as she hoped that her daughter and aunt had made themselves agreeable.
’Thank you, I never was so comfortable, not even when my foot was bad.’
‘I believe you consider that a great compliment.’
‘Yes, I never was so much off my own mind, nor on other people’s:’ and the recollection of all he owed to Mrs. Ponsonby’s kindness rushing over him, he looked so much affected, that Mary was afraid of his giving way, and spoke of other matters; her mother responded, and he came away quite reassured, and believing Mrs. Frost’s augury that at the next call, the invalid would be in the drawing-room.