Still Nina’s mind was enshrouded in as deep a gloom as ever, and Dr. Griswold, who, toward the latter part of June, came to see her, said it would be so always. There was no hope of her recovery, and with his olden tenderness of manner he caressed his former patient, sighing as he thought of the weary life before her. For two days Dr. Griswold remained at Grassy Spring, learning in that time much how matters stood. He saw Edith Hastings,— scanned with his clear, far-reaching eye every action of Arthur St. Claire, and when at last his visit was ended, and Arthur was walking with him to the depot, he said abruptly, “I am sorry for you, St. Claire; more sorry than I ever was before, but you know the path of duty and you must walk in it, letting your eyes stray to neither side, lest they fall upon forbidden fruit.”
Arthur made no reply save to kick the gnarled roots of the tree under which they had stopped for a few moments.
“Edith Hastings is very beautiful!” Dr. Griswold remarked suddenly, and as if she had just entered his mind. “Does she come often to Grassy Spring?”
“Every day,” and Arthur tried to look his friend fully in the face, but could not, and his brown eyes fell as he added hastily, “she comes to see Nina; they are greatly attached.”
“She has a wonderful power over her, I think,” returned Dr. Griswold; “and I am not surprised that you esteem her highly on that account, but how will it be hereafter when other duties, other relations claim her attention. Will she not cease to visit you and so Nina made worse?”
“What new duties? What relations do you mean,” Arthur asked quickly, trembling in every joint as he anticipated the answer.
“I have a fancy that Miss Hastings will reward that blind man for all his kindness with her heart and hand.”
“Her hand it may be, but her heart, never,” interrupted Arthur, betraying by his agitation what Dr. Griswold had already guessed.