“Don’t be so sorry, Arthur, Nina’ll be good. Nina is good now. He’s crying again. Make him stop, wont you? It hurts Nina so. There, poor boy,” and the little waxen hands wiped away the tears falling so fast over Arthur’s face.
Holding one upon the end of her finger and watching it until it dropped upon the carpet, she said with a smile, “Look, Miggie, men’s tears are bigger than girls.”
Oh, how Edith’s heart ached for the strange couple opposite her— the strong man and the crazy young girl who clung to him as confidingly, as if his bosom were her rightful resting place. She pitied them both, but her sympathies were enlisted for Arthur, and coming to his side she laid her hand upon the damp brown locks, which Nina once had torn in her insane fury, and in a voice which spoke volumes of sympathy, whispered, “I am sorry for you.”
This was too much for Arthur, and he sobbed aloud, while Edith, forgetting all proprieties in her grief for him, bowed her face upon his head, and he could feel her hot tears dropping on his hair.
For a moment Nina looked from one to the other in silence, then standing upon her feet and bending over both, she said,
“Don’t cry, Miggie, don’t cry, Arthur. Nina ain’t very bad to day. She wont be bad any more. Don’t. It will all come right some time. It surely will. Nina won’t be here always, and there’ll be no need to cry when she is gone.”
She seemed to think the distress was all on her account, and in her childish way she sought to comfort them until hope whispered to both that, as she said, “It would come right sometime.”
Edith was the first to be comforted, for she did not, like Arthur, know what coming right involved. She only thought that possibly Nina’s shattered intellect might be restored, and she longed to ask the history of one, thoughts of whom had in a measure been blended with her whole life, during the last eight years. There was a mystery connected with her, she knew, and she was about to question Arthur, who had dried his tears and was winding Nina’s short curls around his fingers, when Phillis appeared in the library, starting with surprise when she saw the trio assembled there.
“Marster Arthur,” she began, glancing furtively at Edith, “how came Miss Nina here? Let me take her back. Come, honey,” and she reached out her hand to Nina, who, jumping again upon Arthur’s knee, clung to him closely, exclaiming, “No, no, old Phillis; Nina’s good—Nina’ll stay with Miggie!” and as if fancying that Edith would be a surer protector than Arthur, she slid from his lap and running to the sofa where Edith sat, half hid herself behind her, whispering, “Send her off—send her off. Let me stay with you!”
Edith was fearful that Nina’s presence might interfere with the story she meant to hear, but she could not find it in her heart to send away the little girl clinging so fondly to her, and to Phillis she said, “She may stay this once, I am sure. I will answer for her good behavior.”