“Nina’s would be a little grave,” she said, “not as large as Miggie’s, and perhaps it won’t be long before they dig it. I can wait. You can wait; can’t you, boy?”
What was it which prompted her thus to speak to him? What was it which made him see Griswold’s glance in the eyes looking so earnestly to his own? Surely there was something more than mere chance in all this. Nina would save him. She had grasped his conscience, and she stirred it with no gentle hand, until the awakened man writhed in agony, such as the drowning are said to feel when slowly restored to life, and bowing his head on Nina’s, he cried,
“What shall I do? Tell me, Nina, what to do!”
Once before, when thus appealed to, she had answered him, “Do right,” and she now said the same to the weeping man, who sobbed aloud, “I will. I will tell her all to-morrow. I wish it were to-morrow now, but the long night must intervene, and a weak, vacillating fool like me may waver in that time. Nina,” and he held her closer to him, “stay here with me till morning. I am stronger where you are. The sight of you does me good. Phillis will fix you a bed upon the sofa and make you comfortable; will you stay?”
Every novelty was pleasing to Nina and she assented readily, stipulating, however, that he should not look at her while she said her prayers.
In much surprise Phillis heard of this arrangement, but offered no objection, thinking that Arthur had probably detected signs of a frenzied attack and chose to keep her with him where he could watch her. Alas! they little dreamed that ’twas to save himself he kept her there, kneeling oftentimes beside her as she slept, and from the sight of her helpless innocence gathering strength for the morrow’s duty. How slowly the hours of that never-to-be-forgotten night dragged on, and when at last the grey dawn came creeping up the east, how short they seemed, looked back upon. Through them all Nina had slept quietly, moving only once, and that when Arthur’s tears dropped upon her face. Then, unconsciously, she put her arms around his neck and murmured, “It will all be right sometime.”
“Whether it is or not, I will do right to-day,” Arthur said aloud, and when the sun came stealing into the room, it found him firm as a granite rock.
Nina’s presence saved him, and when the clock pointed to three, he said to her, “Miggie is waiting for me in the Deering woods, where the mill-brook falls over the stones. You called it Niagara, you know, when you went there once with us. Go to Miggie, Nina. Tell her I’m coming soon. Tell her that I sent you.”
“And that you will do right?” interrupted Nina, retaining a confused remembrance of last night’s conversation.
“Yes, tell her I’ll do right. Poor Edith, she will need your sympathy so much;” and with trembling hands Arthur himself wrapped Nina’s shawl around her, taking more care than usual to see that she was shielded from the possibility of taking cold; then, leading her to the door and pointing in the direction of the miniature Niagara he bade her go, watching her with a beating heart as she bounded across the fields toward the Deering woods.