“There are three kinds of darkness, Richard. One like mine, when the brain has a buzz in the middle, and everything is topsy-turvy. One, like yours, when the world is all shut out with its beauty and its flowers; and then there’s another, a blacker darkness when the buzz is in the heart, making it wild with pain. Such, Richard is the darkness, which lies like a pall around our beautiful sister Miggie, and it will deepen and deepen unless you do what Nina asks you to do, and what Miggie never will, because she promised that she wouldn’t-----”
Then followed the entire story of the marriage performed by Richard, of the grief which followed, of Arthur’s gradually growing love of Edith, of the scene of the Deering Woods, of the incidents connected with Edith’s sickness, her anguish at parting with Arthur, her love for him still, her struggles to do right, and her determination to keep her engagement even though she died in doing it.
All this was told in Nina’s own peculiar style; and then came her closing appeal that Richard himself should break the bonds and set poor Miggie free.
“... It will be dreadful at first, I know, and may be all three of the darknesses will close around you for a time,—darkness of the heart, darkness of the brain, and darkness of the eyes, but it will clear away and the daylight will break, in which you will be happier than in calling Miggie your wife, and knowing how she shrinks from you, suffering your caresses only because she knows she must, but feeling so sick at her stomach all the time, and wishing you wouldn’t touch her. I know just how it feels, for when Arthur kissed me, or took my hand, or even came in my sight, before the buzz got into my head, it made me so cold and faint and ugly, the way the Yankees mean, knowing he was my husband when I wanted Charlie Hudson. Don’t subject Miggie to this horrid fate. Be generous and give her up to Arthur. He may not deserve her more than you, but she loves him the best and that makes a heap of difference.
“It’s Nina who asks it, Richard; dead Nina not a living one. She is sitting on your knee; her arms are round your neck; her face against yours and you must not tell her no, or she’ll cling to you day and night, night and day; when you are in company and when you are alone. When it is dark and lonely and all but you asleep, she’ll sit upon your pillow and whisper continually, ’Give Miggie up; give Miggie up,’ or if you don’t, and Miggie’s there beside you, Nina’ll stand between you; a mighty, though invisible shield, and you’ll feel it’s but a mockery, the calling her your wife when her love is given to another.