The tea tray was brought in at five o’clock, but Doctor Moran had not returned, and there was in both women’s hearts a little sense of disappointment. Mrs. Moran was wondering at his unusual delay, Cornelia feared he would be too weary and perhaps, too much interested in other matters to permit her lover to speak. “But even so,” she thought, “Joris can come again. To-night is not the only opportunity.”
It was nearly seven o’clock when the doctor came, and Cornelia was sure her lover would not be much behind that hour; but tea time was ever a good time to her father, he was always amiable and gracious with a cup in his hand, and the hour after it when his pipe kept him company, was his best hour. She told her heart that things had fallen out better than if she had planned them so; and she was so thoughtful for the weary man’s comfort, so attentive and so amusing, that he found it easy to respond to the happy atmosphere surrounding him. He had a score of pleasant things to tell about the fashionable exodus to Philadelphia, about the handsome dresses that had been shown him, and the funny household dilemmas that had been told him. And he was much pleased because Harry De Lancey had been a great part of the day with him, and was very eloquent indeed about the young man’s good sense and good disposition, and the unnecessary, and almost cruel, confiscation of property his family had suffered, for their Tory principles.
And in the midst of the De Lancey lamentation, seven o’clock struck and Cornelia began to listen for the shutting of the garden gate, and the sound of Hyde’s step upon the flagged walk. It did not come as soon as she hoped it would, and the minutes went slowly on until eight struck. Then the doctor was glooming and nodding, and waking up and saying a word or two, and relapsing again into semi-unconsciousness. She felt that the favourable hour had passed, and now the minutes went far too quickly. Why did he net come? With her work in her hand-making laborious stitches by a drawn thread—she sat listening with all her being. The street itself was strangely silent, no one passed, and the fitful talk at the fireside seemed full of fatality; she could feel the influence, though she did not inquire of her heart what it was, of what it might signify.
Half-past eight! She looked up and caught her mother’s eyes, and the trouble and question in them, and the needle going through the fine muslin, seemed to go through her heart. At nine the watching became unbearable. She said softly “I must go to bed. I am tired;” but she put away with her usual neatness her work, and her spools of thread, her thimble and her scissors. Her movement in the room roused the doctor thoroughly. He stood up, stretched his arms outward and upward, and said “he believed he had been sleeping, and must ask their pardon for his indifference.” And then he walked to the window and looking out added “It is a lovely night but the moon looks like storm. Oh!”—and he turned quickly with the exclamation—“I forgot to tell you that I heard a strange report to-day, nothing less than that General Hyde returned on the Mary Pell this morning, bringing with him a child.”