How heavy the shadows which then fell upon the household and upon the heart of Edward Leslie! As he stood, alone, in the chamber of death, with his eyes fixed upon the pale, wasted countenance, no more to quicken with life, and felt on his neck the clinging arms that were thrown around it a few moments before the last sigh of mortality was breathed; and still heard the eager, “Kiss me, Edward, once, before I die!”—a new light broke upon him,—and he was suddenly stung by sharp and self-reproaching thoughts. Had he not killed her, and, by the slowest and most agonizing process by which murder can be committed? There was in his mind a startling perception that such was the awful crime of which he had been guilty.
Yes, there were shadows on the heart of Edward Leslie; shadows that never entirely passed away.
“An object of real charity,” said Andrew Lyon to his wife, as a poor woman withdrew from the room in which they were seated.
“If ever there was a worthy object, she is one,” returned Mrs. Lyon. “A widow, with health so feeble that even ordinary exertion is too much for her; yet obliged to support, with the labor of her own hands, not only herself, but three young children. I do not wonder that she is behind with her rent.”
“Nor I,” said Mr. Lyon in a voice of sympathy. “How much did she say was due to her landlord?”
“She will not be able to pay it.”
“I fear not. How can she? I give her all my extra sewing, and have obtained work for her from several ladies; but, with her best efforts she can barely obtain food and decent clothing for herself and babes.”
“Does it not seem hard,” remarked Mr. Lyon, “that one like Mrs. Arnold, who is so earnest in her efforts to take care of herself and family, should not receive a helping hand from some one of the many who could help her without feeling the effort? If I didn’t find it so hard to make both ends meet, I would pay off her arrears of rent for her, and feel happy in so doing.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the kind-hearted wife, “how much I wish that we were able to do this. But we are not.”
“I’ll tell you what we can do,” said Mr. Lyon, in a cheerful voice—“or, rather what I can do. It will be a very light matter for, say ten persons, to give a dollar a-piece, in order to relieve Mrs. Arnold from her present trouble. There are plenty who would cheerfully contribute for this good purpose; all that is wanted is some one to take upon himself the business of making the collections. That task shall be mine.”
“How glad, James, to hear you say so,” smilingly replied Mrs. Lyon. “Oh! what a relief it will be to poor Mrs. Arnold. It will make her heart as light as a feather. That rent has troubled her sadly. Old Links, her landlord, has been worrying her about it a good deal, and, only a week ago, threatened to put her things in the street if she didn’t pay up.”