Why? Was the alienation between these two so complete as to block out natural sympathy? Had the separation of years rendered them callous to every mutual impression? She dwelt in tenderness upon the bond uniting herself and Reuther and could not believe in such unresponsiveness. No parent could carry resentment or even righteous anger so far as that. Judge Ostrander might seem cold,— both manner and temper would naturally be much affected by his unique and solitary mode of life,—but at heart he must love Oliver. It was not in nature for it to be otherwise. And yet—
It was at this point in her musing that there came one of the breaks in her restless pacing. She was always of an impulsive temperament, and always giving way to it. Sitting down before paper and ink she wrote the following lines:
My Darling if Unhappy Child:
I know that this sudden journey on my part must strike you as cruel, when, if ever, you need your mother’s presence and care. But the love I feel for you, my Reuther, is deep enough to cause you momentary pain for the sake of the great good I hope to bring you out of this shadowy quest. I believe, what I said to you on leaving, that a great injustice was done your father. Feeling so, shall I remain quiescent and see youth and love slip from you, without any effort on my part to set this matter straight? I cannot. I have done you the wrong of silence when knowledge would have saved you shock and bitter disillusion, but I will not add to my fault the inertia of a cowardly soul. Have patience with me, then; and continue to cherish those treasures of truth and affection which you may one day feel free to bestow once more upon one who has a right to each and all of them.
This is your mother’s prayer.
It was not easy for her to sign herself thus. It was a name which she had tried her best to forget for twelve long, preoccupied years. But how could she use any other in addressing her daughter who had already declared her intention of resuming her father’s name, despite the opprobrium it carried and the everlasting bar it must in itself raise between herself and Oliver Ostrander?
A groan broke from her lips as she rapidly folded that name in, and hid it out of sight in the envelope she as rapidly addressed.
But her purpose had been accomplished, or would be when once this letter reached Reuther. With these words in declaration against her she could not retreat from the stand she had therein taken. It was another instance of burning one’s ships upon disembarking, and the effect made upon the writer showed itself at once in her altered manner. Henceforth, the question should be not what awaited her, but how she should show her strength in face of the opposition she now expected to meet from this clear-minded, amply equipped lawyer and judge she had called to her aid.