“O Calvin! Such terrible news! Mr. Sterling—oh, I cannot tell it! What a blow to those girls!” “What is it?” Mr. Bruce advanced with the Bishop into the hall and confronted the messenger, a servant from the Sterlings. The man was without his hat and had evidently run over with the news, as Dr. Bruce lived nearest of any intimate friends of the family.
“Mr. Sterling shot himself, sir, a few minutes ago. He killed himself in his bed-room. Mrs. Sterling—”
“I will go right over, Edward. Will you go with me? The Sterlings are old friends of yours."’
The Bishop was very pale, but calm as always. He looked his friend in the face and answered: “Aye, Calvin, I will go with you not only to this house of death, but also the whole way of human sin and sorrow, please God.”
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
When Dr. Bruce and the Bishop entered the Sterling mansion everything in the usually well appointed household was in the greatest confusion and terror. The great rooms downstairs were empty, but overhead were hurried footsteps and confused noises. One of the servants ran down the grand staircase with a look of horror on her face just as the Bishop and Dr. Bruce were starting to go up.
“Miss Felicia is with Mrs. Sterling,” the servant stammered in answer to a question, and then burst into a hysterical cry and ran through the drawing-room and out of doors.
At the top of the staircase the two men were met by Felicia. She walked up to Dr. Bruce at once and put both hands in his. The Bishop then laid his hand on her head and the three stood there a moment in perfect silence. The Bishop had known Felicia since she was a little child. He was the first to break the silence.
“The God of all mercy be with you, Felicia, in this dark hour. Your mother—”
The Bishop hesitated. Out of the buried past he had, during his hurried passage from his friend’s to this house of death, irresistibly drawn the one tender romance of his young manhood. Not even Bruce knew that. But there had been a time when the Bishop had offered the incense of a singularly undivided affection upon the altar of his youth to the beautiful Camilla Rolfe, and she had chosen between him and the millionaire. The Bishop carried no bitterness with his memory; but it was still a memory.
For answer to the Bishop’s unfinished query, Felicia turned and went back into her mother’s room. She had not said a word yet, but both men were struck with her wonderful calm. She returned to the hall door and beckoned to them, and the two ministers, with a feeling that they were about to behold something very unusual, entered.