But hark, what sound is that, which, stealing through the iron-latticed windows, drowns the echo of that moan, and makes the young man listen? It is Edith Hastings singing one of her wild songs, and the full rich melody of her wonderful voice falls upon his ear, Arthur St. Claire bows his head upon his hands and weeps, for the music carries him back to the long ago when he had no terrible secret haunting every hour, but was as light-hearted as the maiden whom, as she gallops away on her swift-footed Arabian, he looks after, with wistful eyes, watching her until the sweep of her long riding-skirt and the waving of her graceful plumes disappear beneath the shadow of the dim woods, where night is beginning to fall. Slowly, sadly, he turns from the window— merrily, swiftly, the riders dash along, and just us the clock strikes six, their panting steeds pause at the entrance to Collingwood.
Edith at home.
It was too late for Grace to call, and bidding her companion good-bye, she galloped down the hill, while Edith, in a meditative mood, suffered her favorite Bedouin to walk leisurely up the carriage road which led to the rear of the house.
“Victor Dupres!” she exclaimed, as a tall figure emerged from the open door and came forward to meet her. “Where did you come from?”
“From New York,” he replied, bowing very low, “Will Mademoiselle alight?” and taking the little foot from out the shoe he lifted her carefully from the saddle.
“Is he here?” she asked, and Victor replied,
“Certainement; and has brought home a fresh recruit of the blues, too, judging from the length and color of his face.”
“Why did he go to New York?” interrupted Edith, who had puzzled her brain not a little with regard to the business which had taken Richard so suddenly from home.
“As true as I live I don’t know,” was Victor’s reply. “For once he’s kept dark even to me, scouring all the alleys, and lanes, and poor houses in the city, leaving me at the hotel, and taking with him some of those men with brass buttons on their coats. One day when he came back he acted as if he were crazy and I saw the great tears drop on the table over which he was leaning, then when I asked ‘if he’d heard bad news,’ he answered, ’No, joyful news. I’m perfectly happy now. I’m ready to go home,’ and he did seem happy, until we drove up to the gate and you didn’t come to meet him. ‘Where’s Edith?’ he asked, and when Mrs. Matson said you were out, his forehead began to tie itself up in knots, just as it does when he is displeased. It’s my opinion, Miss Edith, that you humor him altogether too much, You are tied to him as closely as a mother to her baby.”
Edith sighed, not because she felt the bonds to which Victor had alluded, but because she reproached herself for not having been there to welcome the blind man home when she knew how much he thought of these little attentions.