“Don’t give up so easily, old fellow. There have been cases on record where women have changed their minds.”
“Not women like Kilmeny,” said Eric miserably. “I tell you she has all her mother’s unfaltering will and tenacity of purpose, although she is free from any taint of pride or selfishness. I thank you for your sympathy and interest, David. You have done all you could—but, heavens, what it would have meant to me if you could have helped her!”
With a groan Eric flung himself on a chair and buried his face in his hands. It was a moment which held for him all the bitterness of death. He had thought that he was prepared for disappointment; he had not known how strong his hope had really been until that hope was utterly taken from him.
David, with a sigh, returned the crochet antimacassar carefully to its place on the chair back.
“Eric, last night, to be honest, I thought that, if I found I could not help this girl, it would be the best thing that could happen, as far as you were concerned. But since I have seen her—well, I would give my right hand if I could do anything for her. She is the wife for you, if we could make her speak; yes, and by the memory of your mother”—David brought his fist down on the window sill with a force that shook the casement,—“she is the wife for you, speech or no speech, if we could only convince her of it.”
“She cannot be convinced of that. No, David, I have lost her. Did you tell her what you have told me?”
“I told her I could not help her. I did not say anything to her of my theory—that would have done no good.”
“How did she take it?”
“Very bravely and quietly—’like a winsome lady’. But the look in her eyes—Eric, I felt as if I had murdered something. She bade me good-bye with a pitiful smile and went upstairs. I did not see her again, although I stayed to dinner as her uncle’s request. Those old Gordons are a queer pair. I liked them, though. They are strong and staunch—good friends, bitter enemies. They were sorry that I could not help Kilmeny, but I saw plainly that old Thomas Gordon thought that I had been meddling with predestination in attempting it.”
Eric smiled mechanically.
“I must go up and see Kilmeny. You’ll excuse me, won’t you, David? My books are there—help yourself.”
But when Eric reached the Gordon house he saw only old Janet, who told him that Kilmeny was in her room and refused to see him.
“She thought you would come up, and she left this with me to give you, Master.”
Janet handed him a little note. It was very brief and blotted with tears.
“Do not come any more, Eric,” it ran. “I must not see you, because it would only make it harder for us both. You must go away and forget me. You will be thankful for this some day. I shall always love and pray for you.”