“It’s queer you never heard of them afterward,” said Edith; while Nina, looking up in the blind man’s face, rejoined,
“You did it then?”
“Nina,” said Arthur ere Richard could reply, “it is time we were going home; there is Sophy with the shawl which you forgot.” And he pointed toward Sophy coming through the garden, with a warm shawl tucked under her arm, for the dew was heavy that night and she feared lest Nina should take cold.
“Nina won’t go yet; she isn’t ready,” persisted the capricious maiden. “Go till I call you,” and having thus summarily dismissed Soph, the little lady resumed the seat from which she had arisen, and laying her head on Richard’s, whispered to him softly, “Can’t you scratch it out?”
“Scratch what out?” he asked; and Nina replied,
“Why, it; what you’ve been talking about. Nothing ever came of it but despair and darkness.”
“I do not know what you mean,” Richard said, and as Arthur did not volunteer any information, but sat carelessly scraping his thumb nail with a pen-knife, Edith made some trivial remark which turned the channel of Nina’s thoughts, and she forgot to urge the request that “it should be scratched out.”
“Nina’ll go now,” she said, after ten minutes had elapsed, and calling Soph, Arthur was soon on his way home, hardly knowing whether he was glad or sorry that every proof of his early error was forever destroyed.
The summer was over and gone; its last breath had died away amid the New England hills, and the mellow October days had come, when in the words of America’s sweetest poetess,
“The woods stand bare and brown,
And into the lap of the South land,
The flowers are blowing down.”
Over all there was that dreamy, languid haze, so common to the Autumn time, when the distant hills are bathed in a smoky light and all things give token of decay. The sun, round and red, as the October sun is wont to be, shone brightly upon Collingwood, and looked cheerily into the room where Edith Hastings sat, waiting apparently for some one whose tardy appearance filled her with impatience. In her hand she held a tiny note received the previous night, and as she read for the twentieth time the few lines contained therein, her blushes deepened on her cheek, and her blank eyes grew softer and more subdued in their expression.
“Edith,” the note began, “I must see you alone. I have something to say to you which a third person cannot hear. May I come to Collingwood to-morrow at three o’clock, P.M.? In haste, Arthur St. Claire.”