Arthur’s face was very white, as he replied, “Tell him if you like, or any one else. It is needless to keep it longer, but, Edith, you’ll come again, won’t you? come to see Nina if nothing more. I am glad you have seen her, provided you do not desert me wholly.”
“Of course I shall not,” she said, as she laid the golden head of the sleeping girl upon the cushion of the sofa, preparatory to leaving, “I’ll come again, and forgive you, too, for anything you may have done, except a wrong to her,” and she carefully kissed the poor, crazy Nina.
Then, offering her hand to Arthur she tried to bid him good-bye as of old, but he missed something in her manner, and with feelings sadly depressed he watched her from the window, as, assisted by Ike, she mounted her pony and galloped swiftly away.
“She’s lost to me forever, and there’s nothing worth living for now,” he said, just as a little hand pressed his arm, and a sweet childish voice murmured, “Yes, there is, Arthur. Live for Nina, poor Nina,” and the snowy fingers, which, for a moment, had rested lightly on his arm, began to play with the buttons of his coat, while the soft blue eyes looted pleadingly into his.
“Yes, darling; he said, caressing her flowing curls, and pushing them back from her forehead, “I will live for you, hereafter. I will love no one else.”
“No one but Miggie. You may love her. You must love her, Arthur. She’s so beautiful, so grand, why has she gone from Nina, I want her here, want her all the time;” and Nina’s mood began to change.
Tears filled her eyes, and burying her face in Arthur’s bosom she begged him to go after Miggie, to bring her. back and keep her there always, threatening that if he did’nt “Nina would be bad.”
Tenderly, but firmly, as a parent soothes a refractory child, did Arthur soothe the excitable Nina, telling her Miggie should come again, or if she did not, they’d go up and see her.
Nina and Miggie.
It would be impossible to describe Edith’s feelings as she rode toward home. She knew Arthur had not told her the whole, and that the part omitted was the most important of all. What could it be? She thought of a thousand different things, but dismissed them one after another from her mind as too preposterous to be cherished for a moment. The terrible reality never once occurred to her, else her heart had not beaten as lightly as it did, in spite of the strange story she had heard. She was glad that she had met with Nina—glad that every obstacle to their future intercourse was removed—and while she censured Arthur much she pitied him the more and scolded herself heartily for feeling so comfortable and satisfied because he had ceased to love the unfortunate Nina.
“I can’t blame him for not wishing to be talked about,” she said. “Shannondale is a horribly gossipping place, and people would have surmised everything; but the sooner they know it now the sooner it will die away. Let me think. Who will be likely to spread the news most industriously?”