“Nina can’t go! Nina won’t go, and leave you here alone! I told him so the vile boy, but he wouldn’t listen, and Soph is packing my trunks. Oh, Miggie, Miggie! how can I go without you? I shall tear again, and be as bad as ever.”
“What do you mean?” asked Edith, “Where are you going, and why?”
Drying her tears, Nina, in her peculiar way, related how “Arthur wouldn’t believe it was scratched out; Richard couldn’t do such a thing, he said; nobody could do it, but a divorce, and Arthur wouldn’t submit to that. He loves me better, than he used to do,” she said; “and he talked a heap about how he’d fix up Sunny Bank. Then he asked me how I liked the name of Nina St. Claire. I hate it!” and the blue eyes flashed as Edith had never seen them flash before. “I won’t be his wife! I’d forgotten all what it was that happened that night until he told it to you in the woods. Then it came back to me, and I remembered how we went to Richard, because he was most blind, and did not often come to Geneva. That was Sarah Warren’s plan I believe, but my head has ached and whirled so since that I most forget. Only this I know, nothing ever came of it; and over the sea I loved Charlie Hudson, and didn’t love Arthur. But, Miggie he’s been so good to me so like my mother. He’s held me in his arms a heap of nights when the fire was in my brain; and once, Miggie, he held me so long, and I tore so awfully, that he fainted, and Dr. Griswold cried, and said, ’Poor Arthur; poor boy!’ That’s when I bit him!—bit Arthur, Miggie, right on his arm, because he wouldn’t let me pull his hair. Dr. Griswold shook me mighty hard, but Arthur never said a word. He only looked at me so sorry, so grieved like, that I came out of my tantrum, and kissed the place. I’ve kissed it ever so many times since then, and Arthur knows I’m sorry. I ain’t a fit wife for him. I don’t blame him for wanting you. I can’t see the wrong, but it’s because I’m so thick-headed, I suppose! I wish I wasn’t!” And fixing her gaze upon the window opposite, Nina seemed to be living over the past, and trying to arrange the events of her life in some clear, tangible form.
Gradually as she talked Edith had softened toward Arthur—poor Arthur, who had borne so much. She might, perhaps, forgive him, but to forget was impossible. She had suffered too much at his hands for that, and uttering a faint moan as she thought how all her hopes of happiness were blasted, she turned on her pillow just as Nina, coming out of her abstracted fit, said to her,
“Did I tell you we are going to Florida—Arthur and I—going back to our old home, in two or three days, Arthur says it is better so. Old scenes may cure me.”