The breakfast was scarcely touched, and the moment it was over Edith hurried to her chamber, for it was nearly time to go. The trunks were brought down—Edith’s and Marie’s—for the latter was to live henceforth with her young mistress; the servants had crowded to the door, bidding their mistress good bye, and then it was Arthur’s turn. Oh, who shall tell of the tempest which raged within as he held for a moment her soft, white hand in his and looked into the face which, ere he saw it again, might lose its girlish charm for him, inasmuch as a husband’s kisses would have been showered upon it. Many times he attempted to speak, but could not, and pressing his lips to hers, he hastened away, going straight to Nina’s grave which had become to him of late a Bethel.
Scarcely was he gone, when Tom, the driver, announced that something was the matter with the harness, and by this delay, Edith gained a few moments, which she resolved to spend with Nina. She did not know that Arthur, too, was there, until she came close upon him as he bent over the little mound. He heard her step, and turning toward her, and, half bitterly, “Edith, why will you tempt me so?”
“Oh, Arthur, don’t,” and with a piteous cry Edith sank at his feet, and laying her face on Nina’s grave, sobbed out, “I did not know that you were here, but I am so glad that you are, for I cannot be without your blessing, you must tell me I am doing right, or I shall surely die. The world is so dark—so dark.”
Arthur had been tempted before—sorely, terribly tempted—but never like this, and recoiling a pace or two, he stood with the dead Nina between himself and she weeping heavily, while the wild thought swept over him, “Is it right that I should fiend her away? " but over her an instant, and stretching his hand across the grave, he laid it on the head of the kneeling girl, giving her the blessing she so much craved, and then bidding her leave him.
“They are calling to you,” he added, as he heard Victor’s voice in the distance, and struggling to her feet, Edith started to go, but forgetting all sense of propriety in that dreadful parting, she turned to him again and said,
“I am going, Arthur, but I must ask one question. It will make my future brighter if I know you love me still, be it ever so little. Do you, Arthur, and when you know I am Richard’s wife will you think of me sometimes, and pity me, too? I shall need it so much!”
Arthur had not expected this, and he reeled as if smitten with a heavy blow. Leaning for support against Petrea’s monument, whence Miggie’s name had been effaced, he gasped: