Nina liked to be caressed, and she smiled upon him a smile so full of trusting faith and love, that Edith’s eyes filled with tears, and her rebellious heart went out toward Arthur as it had never done before, inasmuch as she felt that he was now far more worthy of her.
Very rapidly the morning passed away, and it was after three o’clock P.M., when, as Arthur sat with Edith upon the cool piazza, one of the negroes came running up, the perspiration starting from every pore, and himself almost frantic with excitement.
“What is it, Caesar?” Arthur asked. “What has happened to you?”
“Nothing to me, Mars’r,” returned the negro; “but sumfin mighty curis happen over dar,” and he pointed in the direction where his comrades were busy removing the family dead to a spot selected by Mr. Bernard years before as one more suitable than the present location. “You see, we was histin’ de box of the young Miss and de chile, when Bill let go his holt, and I kinder let my hands slip off, when, Lor’ bless you, the box busted open, an’ we seen the coffin spang in the face. Says Bill, says he—he’s allus a reasonin’, you know—an’, says he, ’that’s a mighty narrer coffin for two;’ and wid that, Mr. Berry, the overseer, Miss,” turning to Edith, “He walked up, and findin’ de screws rattlin’ and loose, just turned back de top piece, an’, as true as Caesar’s standin’ here, there wasn’t no chile thar; nothin’ ‘tall but the Miss, an’ she didn’t look no how; never should have guessed them heap of bones had ever been Miss Petry.”
Edith started from her chair and was about to speak when a hand was laid upon her wrist, and turning, she saw Mrs. Lamotte standing behind her, and apparently more excited than herself.
“Come with me,” she said, leading the unresisting Edith away, and leaving Arthur to follow Caesar.
Of all the household at Sunnybank no one had been so much interested in the removal of the bodies as Mrs. Lamotte, and yet her interest was all centered upon the grave of Miggie Bernard’s mother. When that was disturbed, she was watching from her window, and when the accident occurred which revealed the fraud of years, she hurried down and, with a cat-like tread, glided behind Edith’s chair where she stood while Caesar told his story.
It would be impossible to describe Edith’s feeling as she followed the strange woman up to her own room, sitting down just where Mrs. Lamotte bade her sit, and watching nervously the restless rolling of the eyes, which had no terror for her now, particularly after their owner said to her in French,
“Do you know me, Edith Hastings, Eloise Temple, Marguerite Bernard? Have we never met before?”
Like the rushing of some mighty, pent up flood the past swept over her then, almost bearing her senses down with the headlong tide; link after link was joined, until the chain of evidence was complete, and with a scream of joy Edith went forward to the arms unfolded to receive her.