“You’re a mighty queer child,” said Lois, when the narrative was ended; “but I’ll see that you have good care till he comes back;” and it was owing, in a measure, to her influence, that the breakfast and dinner carried up to Edith was of a superior quality, and comprised in quantity far more than she could eat.
Still the day dragged heavily, for Lois could not give her much attention; and even Nina failed to entertain her, as the western sunlight came in at her window, warning her that it was almost night.
“Will Arthur come? or if he does, will Mr. Harrington be with him?” she asked herself repeatedly, until at last, worn out with watching and waiting, she laid her head upon the side of the bed, and fell asleep, resting so quietly that she did not hear the rapid step in the hall, the knock upon the door, the turning of the knob, or the cheery voice which said to her:
“Edith, are you asleep?”
Arthur had come.
Richard and Arthur.
It was not a common occurrence for a visitor to present himself at Collingwood at so early an hour as that in which Arthur St. Claire rung for admittance, and Victor, who heard the bell, hastened in some surprise to answer it,
“Tell Mr. Harrington a stranger wishes to see him,” said Arthur, following the polite valet into the library, where a fire was slowly struggling into life.
“Yes, sir. What name?” and Victor waited for a moment, while Arthur hesitated, and finally stammered out:
“Mr. St. Claire, from Virginia.”
Immediately Victor withdrew, and seeking his master, delivered the message, adding that the gentleman seemed embarrassed, and he wouldn’t wonder if he’d come to borrow money.”
“St Claire—St. Claire,” Richard repeated to himself. “Where have I heard that name before? Somewhere, sure.”
“He called himself a stranger,” returned Victor, adding that a youth by that name was visiting at Brier Hill, and it was probably of him that Mr. Harrington was thinking,
“It may be, though I’ve no remembrance of having heard that fact,” returned Richard; “but, lead on,” and he took the arm of Victor, who lead him to the library floor and then, as was his custom, turned away.
More than once during the rapid journey, Arthur had half resolved to turn back and not run the fearful risk of being recognized by Richard Harrington, but the remembrance of Edith’s mute distress should he return alone, emboldened him to go on and trust to Providence, or, if Providence failed, trust to Richard’s generosity not to betray his secret. He heard the uncertain footsteps in the hall, and forgetting that the eyes he so much dreaded could not see, he pulled his coat collar up around his face so as to conceal as much of it as possible.
“Mr. St. Claire? Is there such a person here?” and Richard Harrington had crossed the threshold of the door, and with his sightless eyes rolling around the room, stood waiting for an answer.