“It’s as I said it would be?” Martine added huskily, after a moment or two.
“Well, my friend, she said you would understand her better than any one else. She wrote you this note.”
Martine’s hands so trembled that he could scarcely break the seal. He sat looking at the tear-blurred words some little time, and grew evidently calmer, then faltered, “Yes, it’s well to remember God at such a time. He has laid heavy burdens upon me. He is responsible for them, not I. If I break, He also will be responsible.”
“Hobart,” said Mr. Kemble, earnestly, “you must not break under this, for our sake as well as your own. I have the presentiment that we shall all need you yet, my poor girl perhaps most of all. She doesn’t, she can’t realize it. Now, the dead is alive again. Old girlish impulses and feelings are asserting themselves. As is natural, she is deeply excited; but this tidal wave of feeling will pass, and then she will have to face both the past and future. I know her well enough to be sure she could never be happy if this thing wrecked you. And then, Hobart,” and the old man sank his voice to a whisper, “suppose—suppose Nichol continues the same.”
“He cannot,” cried Martine, almost desperately. “Oh, Mr. Kemble, don’t suggest any hope for me. My heart tells me there is none, that there should not be any. No, she loved him as I have loved her from childhood. She is right. I do understand her so well that I know what the future will be.”
“Well,” said Mr. Kemble, firmly, as he rose, “she shall never marry him as he is, with my consent. I don’t feel your confidence about Helen’s power to restore him. I tell you, Hobart, I’m in sore straits. Helen is the apple of my eye. She is the treasure of our old age. God knows I remember what you have done for her and for us in the past; and I feel that we shall need you in the future. You’ve become like a son to mother and me, and you must stand by us still. Our need will keep you up and rally you better than all Dr. Barnes’ medicine. I know you well enough to know that. But take the medicine all the same; and above all things, don’t give way to anything like recklessness and despair. As you say, God has imposed the burden. Let him give you the strength to bear it, and other people’s burdens too, as you have in the past. I must go now. Don’t fail me.”