“She has been. sleeping, however since daylight,” added Colonel Richards, “and that is much in her favor.”
“She received my letter, I presume,” said Florence, in a hesitating voice.
“A letter came for her yesterday,” was replied; “but as she was more indisposed than usual, we did not give it to her.”
“It is as well,” said the young man, experiencing a sense of relief.
An hour afterwards he was permitted to enter the chamber, where she lay supported by pillows. One glance at her face dispelled from his mind every lingering doubt. He had suffered from imaginary fears, awakened by the whispers of a troubled conscience.
In a few days Clara was well enough to leave her room, and was soon entirely recovered from her sudden illness. That little matter of the heart had been settled within three minutes of their meeting, and they were now as happy as lovers usually are under such favorable circumstances.
When Edwin Florence went back to New York, it was with a sense of interior pleasure more perfect than he had experienced for years; and this would have remained, could he have shut out the past; or, so much of it as came like an unwelcome intruder. But, alas! this was not to be. Even while he was bending, in spirit, over the beautiful image of his last beloved, there would come between his eyes and that image a pale sad face, in which reproof was stronger than affection, It was all in vain that he sought to turn from that face. For a time it would remain present, and then fade slowly away, leaving his heart oppressed.
“Is it to be ever thus!” he would exclaim, in these seasons of darkness. “Will nothing satisfy this accusing spirit? Edith! Dear Edith! Art thou not among the blessed ones? Is not thy heart happy beyond mortal conception? Then why come to me thus with those tearful eyes, that shadowy face, those looks of reproof? Have I not suffered enough for purification! Am I never to be forgiven?”
And then, with an effort, he would turn his eyes from the page laid open by Memory, and seek to forget what was written there. But it seemed as if every thing conspired to freshen his remembrance of the past, the nearer the time approached, when by a marriage union with one truly beloved, he was to weaken the bonds it had thrown around him. The marriage of Miss Linmore took place a few weeks after his engagement with Clara, and as an intimate friend led her to the altar, he could not decline making one of the number that graced the nuptial festivities. In meeting the young bride, he endeavored to push from his mind all thoughts of their former relations. But she had not done this, and her thought determined his. Her mind recurred to the former time, the moment he came into her presence, and, of necessity his went back also. They met, therefore, with a certain reserve, that was to him most unpleasant, particularly as it stirred a hundred sleeping memories.