It was late the next morning, ere Nina and Edith awoke from that long sleep, which proved so refreshing to the latter, stilling her throbbing pulse, cooling her feverish brow, and subduing the wild look of her eyes, which had in them the clear light of reason. Edith was better. She would live, the physician said, feeling a glow of gratified vanity as he thought how that last dose of medicine, given as an experiment, and about which he had been so doubtful, had really saved her life. She would have died without it, he knew, just as Mrs. Matson, who inclined to homoeopathic principles, knew her patient would have died if she had not slily thrown it in the fire, substituting in its stead sweetened water and pills of bread.
Victor and Nina, too, had their theory with regard to the real cause of Edith’s convalescence, but each kept his own counsel, Victor saying to Richard when questioned as to whether he had read the paper or not,
“No, Miss Nina keeps it clutched tightly in her hand, as if suspecting my design.”
In the course of the day, however, Nina relaxed her vigilance, and Victor, who was sent up stairs with wood, saw the important document lying upon the hearth rug, where Nina had unconsciously dropped it.
“It’s safer with me,” he thought, and picking it up, he carried it to his own apartment, locking it in his trunk where he knew no curious eyes would ever find it.
In her delight at Edith’s visible improvement, Nina forgot the paper for a day or two, and when at last she did remember it, making anxious inquiries for it, Mrs. Matson, who was not the greatest stickler for the truth, pacified her by saying she had burned up a quantity of waste papers scattered on the floor, and presumed this was among them. As Nina cared for nothing save to keep the scratching out from every one except those whom it directly concerned, she dismissed the subject from her mind, and devoted herself with fresh energy to Edith, who daily grew better.
She had not seen Arthur since that night in the Deering Woods, neither did she wish to see him. She did not love him now, she said; the shock had been so great as to destroy the root of her affections, and no excuse he could offer her would in the least palliate his sin. Edith was very harsh, very severe toward Arthur. She should never go to Grassy Spring again, she thought; never look upon his face unless he came to Collingwood, which she hoped he would not do, for an interview could only be painful to them both. She should tell him how deceived she was in him, and Edith’s cheeks grew red, and her eyes unusually bright, as she mentally framed the speech she should make to Arthur St. Claire, if ever they did meet. Her excitement was increasing, when Nina came in, and tossing bonnet and shawl on the floor, threw herself upon the foot of the bed, and began to cry, exclaiming between each sob,