In less than half an hour Margaret’s hand was on the door, but she could not enter. Irene had not moved from her place at the window in all that time.
“Is that you, Margaret?” she called, starting from her abstraction.
“Do you want anything, Miss Irene?”
“No, thank you, Margaret.”
She answered in as cheerful a tone as she could assume, and the kind old waiting-woman retired.
From that time every one noted a change in Irene. But none knew, or even guessed, its cause or meaning. Not even to her friend, Mrs. Everet, did she speak of her meeting with Hartley Emerson. Her face did not light up as before, and her eyes seemed always as if looking inward or gazing dreamily upon something afar off. Yet in good deeds she failed not. If her own heart was heavier, she made other hearts lighter by her presence.
And still the years went on in their steady revolutions—one, two, three, four, five more years, and in all that time the parted ones did not meet again.
BORN FOR EACH OTHER.
I SAW Mr. Emerson yesterday,” said Mrs. Everet. She was sitting with Irene in her own house in New York.
“Did you?” Irene spoke evenly and quietly, but did not turn her face toward Mrs. Everet.
“Yes. I saw him at my husband’s store. Mr. Everet has engaged him to conduct an important suit, in which many thousands of dollars are at stake.”
“How does be look?” inquired Irene, without showing any feelings but still keeping her face turned from Mrs Everet.
“Well, I should say, though rather too much frosted for a man of his years.”
“Gray, do you mean?” Irene manifested some surprise.
“Yes; his hair and beard are quite sprinkled with time’s white snow-flakes.”
“He is only forty,” remarked Irene.
“I should say fifty, judging from his appearance.”
“Only forty.” And a faint sigh breathed on the lips of Irene. She did not look around at her friend but sat very still, with her face turned partly away. Mrs. Everet looked at her closely, to read, if possible, what was passing in her mind. But the countenance of Irene was too much hidden. Her attitude, however, indicated intentness of thought, though not disturbing thought.
“Rose,” she said at length, “I grow less at peace with myself as the years move onward.”
“You speak from some passing state of mind,” suggested Mrs. Everet.
“No; from a gradually forming permanent state. Ten years ago I looked back upon the past in a stern, self-sustaining, martyr-spirit. Five years ago all things wore a different aspect. I began to have misgivings; I could not so clearly make out my case. New thoughts on the subject—and not very welcome ones—began to intrude. I was self-convicted of wrong; yes, Rose, of a great and an irreparable wrong. I shut my eyes; I tried