Mr. Davis stopped, and Helen sat for a long time staring ahead of her, with a very frightened look in her eyes, and thinking, “Oh, we MUST find Arthur!” Then she turned to her father, her lips trembling and her countenance very pale. “Tell me,” she said, in a low, awe-stricken voice, “a long time ago someone must have wronged that woman.”
“Yes, dear,” said Mr. Davis, “when she was not even as old as you are. And the man who wronged her was worth millions of dollars, Helen, and could have saved her from all her suffering with a few of them if he cared to. No one but God knows his name, for the woman would not tell it.”
Helen sat for a moment or two staring at him wildly; and then suddenly she buried her head in his bosom and burst into tears, sobbing so cruelly that her father was sorry he had told her what he had. He knew why that story moved her so, and it wrung his heart to think of it,—that this child of his had put upon her own shoulders some of that burden of the guilt of things, and must suffer beneath it, perhaps for the rest of her days.
When Helen gazed up at him again there was the old frightened look upon her face, and all his attempts to comfort her were useless. “No, no!” she whispered. “No, father! I cannot even think of peace again, until we have found Arthur!”
“A fugitive and gracious light he
Shy to illumine; and I seek it too.
This does not come with houses or with gold,
With place, with honor, and a flattering crew;
’Tis not in the world’s market bought and sold.”
Three days passed by after Helen had returned to her father, during which the girl stayed by herself most of the time. When the breaking off of her engagement was known, many of her old friends came to see her, but the hints that they dropped did not move her to any confidences; she felt that it would not be possible for her to find among them any understanding of her present moods. Her old life, or rather the life to which she had been looking forward, seemed to her quite empty and shallow, and there was nothing useful that she knew of to do except to offer to help her father in such ways as she could. She drew back into her own heart, giving most of her time to thinking about Mr. Howard and Arthur, and no one but her father knew why it was that she was so subdued and silent.
It was only on the third morning, when there came a letter from Mr. Howard saying that he was coming out that afternoon to see her, that Helen seemed to be interested and stirred again. She went to the window more than once to look for him; and when at last her friend had arrived, and the two were seated in the parlor, she said to him without waiting for any circumstance, “I have been wishing very much to see you, Mr. Howard, because there is something I am anxious to talk to you about, if you will let me.”