’What! hatest thou then him that struck thee down in fair fight? Sure thou art of meaner soul than I judged thee. What man in battle-field hates his enemy, or thinks it less than enough to do his endeavour to slay him?’
’Know’st thou whom thou wouldst have me forgive? He who struck me down was thy friend, Richard Heywood.’
‘Then he hath his mare again?’ cried Dorothy, eagerly.
Rowland’s face fell, and she knew that she had spoken heartlessly—knew also that, for all his protestations, Rowland yet cherished the love she had so plainly refused. But the same moment she knew something more.
For, by the side of Rowland, in her mind’s eye, stood Henry Vaughan, as wise as Rowland was foolish, as accomplished and learned as Rowland was narrow and ignorant; but between them stood Richard, and she knew a something in her which was neither tenderness nor reverence, and yet included both. She rose in some confusion, and left the chamber.
This good came of it, that from that moment Scudamore was satisfied she loved Heywood, and, with much mortification, tried to accept his position. Slowly his health began to return, and slowly the deeper life that was at length to become his began to inform him.
Heartless and poverty-stricken as he had hitherto shown himself, the good in him was not so deeply buried under refuse as in many a better-seeming man. Sickness had awakened in him a sense of requirement—of need also, and loneliness, and dissatisfaction. He grew ashamed of himself and conscious of defilement. Something new began to rise above and condemn the old. There are who would say that the change was merely the mental condition resulting from and corresponding to physical weakness; that repentance, and the vision of the better which maketh shame, is but a mood, sickly as are the brain and nerves which generate it; but he who undergoes the experience believes he knows better, and denies neither the wild beasts nor the stars, because they roar and shine through the dark.
Mr. Vaughan came to see him again and again, and with the concurrence of Dr. Spott, prescribed for him. As the spring approached he grew able to leave his room. The ladies of the family had him to their parlours to pet and feed, but he was not now so easily to be injured by kindness as when he believed in his own merits.
January of 1646, according to the division of the year, arrived, and with it the heaviest cloud that had yet overshadowed Raglan.
One day, about the middle of the month. Dorothy, entering lady Glamorgan’s parlour, found it deserted. A moan came to her ears from the adjoining chamber, and there she found her mistress on her face on the bed.
‘Madam,’ said Dorothy in terror, ’what is it? Let me be with you. May I not know it?’