“Marie, Marie!” she cried, “How is it? When was it? Where was it? Am I anybody or not, tell me?”
Then question followed question go rapidly that Marie, with all her voluble French and broken English, was hardly able to keep up. But the whole was told at last; everything was clear to Edith as the daylight, and tottering to the bed, she asked to be alone, while she wept and prayed over this great joy, which had come so suddenly upon her.
“Nina, Nina. I thank thee, oh, my Father, for sweet, precious Nina.”
That was all she could say, as with her face in the pillows, she lay until the sun went down, and night fell a second time on Sunnybank.
“No one shall tell her but myself,” she thought as she descended to Nina’s room, where Arthur was telling of the discovery they had made—a discovery for which he could not account, and about which the negroes, congregated together in knots, were talking, each offering his or her own theory with regard to the matter, and never once thinking to question Mrs. Lamotte, who, they knew, had been with Mrs. Bernard when she died.
“Oh, Miggie!” Nina cried. “Have you heard? do you know? Little Miggie isn’t there where we thought she was. She’s gone. Nobody’s there but my other mother.”
“Yes, I know,” Edith answered, and laying her hand on Arthur’s she said, “Please, Mr. St Claire, go away awhile. I must see Nina alone. Don’t let anybody disturb us, will you? Go to Mrs. Lamotte. Ask her what I mean. She can tell you. She told me.”
Thus importuned, Arthur left the room, and Edith was alone with Nina.
Oh, how Edith yearned to take that sweet young creature to her bosom, and concentrate in one wild, passionate hug the love of so many wasted years; but Nina must not be unduly startled if she would make her comprehend what she had to tell, and conquering her own agitation with a wondrous effort she sat down upon the bed, and said,
“How is my darling? Is her head all in a twist?”
Nina smiled, a rational, knowing smile, and answered,
“There wasn’t the least bit of a twist in it till Arthur told me about that in the graveyard, and then it began to thump so loud, but with you sitting here, I’m better. You do me so much good, Miggie. Your eyes keep me quiet. Where do you suppose she is—the other Miggie; and how did she get out of the coffin?”
“Nina,” said Edith, “can you understand me if I tell you a story about a little girl who resembled your sister Miggie?”
Nina liked stories and though she would rather have talked of the real Miggie, she expressed a willingness to listen, and by the dim candle light Edith saw that the blue eyes, fixed so intently upon her, still retained the comparatively rational expression she had observed when she first came in. Moving a little nearer to her, she began,