This brought the conversation back from the aspiring Edith to Richard Harrington, and as old Rachel soon came in to remove her mistress’ breakfast, Kitty took her leave, saying as she bade her friend good morning,
“I trust it will not be long before you know him.”
“Know him!” repeated Grace, when at last she was alone. “Just as if I had not known him to my sorrow. Oh, Richard, Richard! maybe you’d forgive me if you knew what I have suffered,” and the proud, beautiful eyes filled with tears as Grace Atherton plucked the broad green leaves from the grape vine over her head, and tearing them in pieces scattered the fragments upon the floor of the piazza. “Was there to be a bride at Collingwood?” This was the question which racked her brain, keeping her in a constant state of feverish excitement until the very morning came when the family were expected.
Mrs. Matson, the former housekeeper, had resumed her old position, and though she came often to Brier Hill to consult the taste of Mrs. Atherton as to the arrangement of curtains and furniture, Grace was too haughtily polite to question her, and every car whistle found her at the window watching for the carriage and a sight of its inmates. One after another the western trains arrived, and the soft September twilight deepened into darker night, showing to the expectant Grace the numerous lights shining from the windows of Collingwood. Edith Hastings, too, imbued with something of her mistress’ spirit, was on the alert, and when the last train in which they could possibly come, thundered through the town, her quick ear was the first to catch the sound of wheels grinding slowly up the hill.
“They are coming, Mrs. Atherton!” she cried; and nimble as a squirrel she climbed the great gate post, where with her elf locks floating about her sparkling face, she sat, while the carriage passed slowly by, then saying to herself, “Pshaw, it wasn’t worth the trouble—I never saw a thing,” she slid down from her high position, and stealing in the back way so as to avoid the scolding Mrs. Atherton was sure to give her, she crept up to her own chamber, where she stood long by the open window, watching the lights at Collingwood, and wondering if it would make a person perfectly happy to be its mistress and the bride of Richard Harrington.
Edith Hastings goes to Collingwood.
The question Edith had asked herself, standing by her chamber window, was answered by Grace Atherton sitting near her own. “Yes, the bride of Richard Harrington must be perfectly happy, if bride indeed there were.” She was beginning to feel some doubt upon this point, for strain her eyes as she might, she had not been able to detect the least signs of femininity in the passing carriage, and hope whispered that the brightest dream she had ever dreamed might yet be realized.