And last of all, though strongest in regard, most piteously eager in interest, came Squire Hamley himself. When she was at the worst, he rode over every day to hear the smallest detail, facing even Mrs Gibson (his abomination) if her husband was not at home, to ask and hear, and ask and hear, till the tears were unconsciously stealing down his cheeks. Every resource of his heart, or his house, or his lands was searched and tried, if it could bring a moment’s pleasure to her; and whatever it might be that came from him, at her very worst time, it brought out a dim smile upon her face.
AN ABSENT LOVER RETURNS
And now it was late June; and to Molly’s and her father’s extreme urgency in pushing, and Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s affectionate persistency in pulling, Cynthia had yielded, and had gone back to finish her interrupted visit in London, but not before the bruit of her previous sudden return to nurse Molly, had told strongly in her favour in the fluctuating opinion of the little town. Her affair with Mr. Preston was thrust into the shade; while every one was speaking of her warm heart. Under the gleam of Molly’s recovery everything assumed a rosy hue, as indeed became the time when actual roses were actually in bloom.
One morning Mrs. Gibson brought Molly a great basket of flowers, that bad been sent from the Hall. Molly still breakfasted in bed, but had just come down, and was now well enough to arrange the flowers for the drawing-room, and as she did so with these blossoms, she made some comments on each.
’Ah! these white pinks! They were Mrs. Hamley’s favourite flower; and so like her! This little bit of sweetbrier, it quite scents the room. It has pricked my fingers, but never mind. Oh, mamma, look at this rose! I forget its name, but it is very rare, and grows up in the sheltered corner of the wall, near the mulberry-tree. Roger bought the tree for his mother with his own money when he was quite a boy; he showed it me, and made me notice it.’
’I daresay it was Roger who got it now. You heard papa say he had seen him yesterday.’
‘No! Roger! Roger come home!’ said Molly, turning first red, then very white.
’Yes. Oh, I remember you had gone to bed before papa came in, and he was called off early to tiresome Mrs. Beale. Yes, Roger turned up at the Hall the day before yesterday.’
But Molly leaned back against her chair, too faint to do more at the flowers for some time. She had been startled by the suddenness of the news. ‘Roger come home!’