“Yes, I see,” cried Edith, her tears dropping fast into her lap, “I see that I tempted him to sin. Oh, Arthur, I am most to blame— most to blame.”
“And you will give up Richard, won’t you?” Nina said. “Arthur is just as good, just as noble, just as true, and better too, it may be, for he has passed through a fiercer fire than Richard ever did. Will you give up Richard?”
“I can’t,” and Edith shook her head. “The chords by which he holds me are like bands of steel, and cannot be sundered. I promised solemnly that by no word or deed would I seek to break our engagement, and I dare not. I should not be happy if I did.”
And this was all Nina could wring from her, although she labored for many hours, sometimes rationally, sometimes otherwise, but always with an earnest simplicity which showed how pure were her motives, and how great her love for Edith.
Arthur and Nina.
It was rather late in the evening when Arthur returned, looking more than usually pale and weary, and still there was about him an air of playful pleasantry, such as there used to be, when Edith first knew him. During the long ride to Tallahassee, Victor, either from accident or design, touched upon the expected marriage of his master, and although Arthur would not ask a single question, he was a deeply-interested auditor, and listened intently, while Victor told him much which had transpired between himself and Edith, saying that unless some influence stronger than any he or Grace could exert were thrown around her, she would keep her vow to Richard, even though she died in keeping it.
“Girls like Edith Hastings do not die easily,” was Arthur’s only comment, and Victor half wished he had kept his own counsel and never attempted to meddle in a love affair.
But if Arthur said nothing, he thought the more, and the warfare within was not the less severe, because his face was so unruffled and his manner so composed. Thought, intense and almost bewildering, was busy at work, and ere the day was done, he had resolved that he would help Edith if all else forsook her. He would not throw one single obstacle across her pathway. He would make the sacrifice easier for her, even if to do it, he suffered her to think that his own love had waned. Nothing could more effectually cure her, and believing that she might be happy with Richard if she did not love another, he determined to measure every word and act so as to impress her