“Poor little Edith,” rejoined Arthur, “I wonder if she has been very lonely? Shall we go to her at once?”
“Yes,” answered Richard, and leaning on Arthur’s arm, he proceeded to the door of Edith’s room.
Richard and Edith.
“Oh, Mr. Arthur, you did come back,” and forgetting, in her great joy, that Arthur was a gentleman, and she a waiting-maid, Edith wound her arms around his neck, and kissed him twice ere he well knew what she was doing.
For an instant the haughty young man felt a flush of insulted dignity, but it quickly vanished when he saw the tall form of Richard bending over the little girl and heard him saying to her,
“Have you no welcoming kiss for me?”
“Yes, forty hundred, if you like,” and in her delight Edith danced about the room like one insane.
Thrusting the locket slily into Arthur’s hand, she whispered,
“I slept with her last night, and dreamed it was not the first time either. Will you ask her when you see her if she ever knew me?”
“Yes, yes,” he answered, making a gesture for her to stop as Richard was about to speak.
“Edith, said Richard, winding his arm around her, “Edith, I have come to take you home—to take you to Collingwood to live with me. Do you wish to go?”
“Ain’t there ghosts at Collingwood?” asked Edith, who, now that what she most desired was just within her reach, began like every human being to see goblins in the path. “Ain’t there ghosts, at Collingwood?—a little boy with golden curls, and must I sleep in the chamber with him?”
“Poor child,” said Richard, “You too, have heard that idle tale. Shall I tell you of the boy with golden hair?” and holding her so close to him that he could feel the beating of her heart and hear her soft, low breathing, he told her all there was to tell of his half-brother Charlie, who died just one day after his young mother, and was buried in the same coffin.
They could not return to Collingwood that night, and the evening was spent in the private parlor which Arthur engaged for himself and his blind friend. It was strange how fast they grew to liking each other, and it was a pleasant sight to look at them as they sat there in the warm firelight which the lateness of the season made necessary to their comfort—the one softened and toned down by affliction and the daily cross he was compelled to bear, the other in the first flush of youth when the world lay all bright before him and he had naught to do but enter the Elysian fields and pluck the fairest flowers.
It was late when they separated, but at a comparatively early hour the next morning they assembled again, this time to bid good-by, for their paths hereafter lay in different directions.
“You must write to me, little metaphysics,” said Arthur, as with hat and shawl in hand he stood in the depot on the east side of the Hudson.