“Did I say anything when I was delirious—anything I ought not to have said?” she suddenly asked of Grace; and Victor, as if she had questioned him, answered quickly,
“Nothing, nothing—all is safe.”
Like a flash of lightning, Grace Atherton’s eyes turned upon him, while he, guessing her suspicions, returned her glance with one as strangely inquisitive as her own.
“Mon Dieu! I verily believe she knows,” he muttered, as he left the room, and repairing to his own, dived to the bottom of his trunk, to make sure that he still held in his possession the paper on which it had been “scratched out.”
That night as Grace Atherton took her leave of Edith, she bent over the young girl, and whispered in her ear,
“I know it all. Arthur told me the night before he left. God pity you, Edith! God pity you!”
The nineteenth birth-day.
Edith was nineteen. She was no longer the childish, merry-hearted maiden formerly known as Edith Hastings. Her cruel disappointment had ripened her into a sober, quiet woman, whose songs were seldom heard in the halls of Collingwood, and whose bounding steps had changed into a slower, more measured tread.
Still, there was in her nature too much of life and vigor to be crushed out at once, and oftentimes it flashed up with something of its olden warmth, and the musical laugh fell again on Richard’s listening ear. He knew she was changed, but he imputed it all to her long, fearful sickness; when the warm summer days came back, she would be as gay as ever, he thought, or if she did not he would in the autumn take her to Florida, to visit Nina, for whom he fancied she might be pining. Once he said as much to her, but his blindness was a shield between them, and he did not see the sudden paling of her cheek and quivering of her lip.
Alas, for Richard, that he walked in so great a darkness. Hour by hour, day by day, had his love increased for the child of his adoption, until now she was a part of his very life, pervading every corner and crevice of his being. He only lived for her, and in his mighty love, he became selfishly indifferent to all else around him. Edith was all he cared for;—to have her with him;—to hear her voice,—to know that she was sitting near,—that by stretching forth his hand he could lay it on her head, or feel her beautiful cheeks,—this was his happiness by day, and when at night he parted unwillingly from her, there was still a satisfaction in knowing that he should meet her again on the morrow,—in thinking that she was not far away—that by stepping across the hall and knocking at her door he could hear her sweet voice saying to him,