Kitty was gone at last, and glad to be alone she wept passionately over this desolation of her hopes, wishing often that the baby had perished in the river ere it had wrought a work so sad. How she hated that Swedish mother and her child—how she hated all children then, even the black haired Edith, out in the autumn sunshine, singing to herself a long-forgotten strain, which had come back to her that morning, laden with perfume from the vine-clad hills of Bingen, and with music from the Rhine. Softly the full, rich melody came stealing through the open window, and Grace Atherton as she listened to the mournful cadence felt her heart growing less hard and bitter toward fate, toward the world, and toward the innocent Swedish babe. Then as she remembered that Richard kissed the flowers, a flush mounted to her brow. He did love her yet; through all the dreary years of their separation he had clung to her, and would it not atone for her former selfishness, if now that the world was dark to him, she should give herself to the task of cheering the deep darkness? It would be happiness, she thought, to be pointed out as the devoted wife of the blind man, far greater happiness to bask in the sunlight of the blind man’s love, for Grace Atherton did love him, and in the might of her love she resolved upon doing that from which she would have shrunk had he not been as helpless and afflicted as he was. Edith should be the medium between them. Edith should take him flowers every day, until he signified a wish for her to come herself, when she would go, and sitting by his side, would tell him, perhaps, how sad her life had been since that choice of hers made on the shore of the deep sea. Then, if he asked her again to share his lonely lot, she would gladly lay her head upon his bosom, and whisper back the word she should have said to him seven years ago.
It was a pleasant picture of the future which Grace Atherton drew as she lay watching the white clouds come and go over the distant tree tops of Collingwood, and listening to the song of Edith, still playing in the sunshine, and when at dinner time she failed to appear at the ringing of the bell, and Edith was sent in quest of her, she found her sleeping quietly, dreaming of the Swedish babe and Richard Harrington.