“No, I durst not ask, nor did any one dare to speak to me. My brother, who alone would have done so, died, I scarcely know when; but ere the very consciousness of my own wretched existence had come back to me. Once again repeat the words, gentle messenger of mercy.”
She obeyed, but this time he mournfully murmured, “Hope! What hope for their destroyer?”
“They are God’s words, as well as hers,” the girl answered, with diffident earnestness, but in reply she only heard tightened breaths, which made her say, “You cannot bear more, sir. Let me call Jumbo, and bid you good night.”
Jumbo came at the mention of his name. Somehow he was so unlike other human beings, and so wholly devoted to his master, that it never seemed to be a greater shock to find that he had been present than if he had been a faithful dog.
A few days later he told Aurelia that Mas’r was not well enough to see her. He had set forth as soon as the moon had set, and walked with his trusty servant to Sedhurst, where he had traced with his finger the whole inscription, lingering so long that the sun was above the horizon before he could get home; and he was still lying on the bed where he had thrown himself on first coming in, having neither spoken nor eaten since. Jumbo could not but grumble out that Mas’r was better left to himself.
Yet when Aurelia on the third evening was recalled, there was a ring of refreshment in the voice. It was still melancholy, but the dejection was lessened, and though it was only of Achilles and Patroclus that they talked, she was convinced that the pressure of the heavy burthen of grief and remorse was in some degree lightened.
CHAPTER XII. THE SHAFTS OF PHOEBE.
golden bow she bends,
Her deadly arrows sending forth.
Greek Hymn (KEIGHTLEY).
On coming in from a walk, Aurelia was surprised by the tidings that Mistress Phoebe Treforth had come to call on her, and had left a billet. The said billet was secured with floss silk sealed down in the antiquated fashion, and was written on full-sized quarto paper. These were the contents:—
“My Sister and Myself are desirous of the Honour of your Acquaintance, and shall be happy if you will do use the Pleasure of coming to partake of Dinner at Three o’Clock on Tuesday, the 13th instant.
“Yours to command,
Aurelia carried the invitation to her oracle.
“My cousins are willing to make your acquaintance?” said he. “That is well. Jumbo shall escort you home in the evening.”
“Thank you, sir, but must I accept the invitation?”
“It could not be declined without incivility. Moreover, the Mistresses Treforth are highly respected, and your father and sister will certainly think it well for you to have female friends.”