Mary: A Fiction/Chapter XXVIII

Just as she was going to quit her room, to visit Henry, his mother called on her.

"My son is worse to-day," said she, "I come to request you to spend not only this day, but a week or two with me.--Why should I conceal any thing from you? Last night my child made his mother his confident, and, in the anguish of his heart, requested me to be thy friend--when I shall be childless. I will not attempt to describe what I felt when he talked thus to me. If I am to lose the support of my age, and be again a widow--may I call her Child whom my Henry wishes me to adopt?"

This new instance of Henry's disinterested affection, Mary felt most forcibly; and striving to restrain the complicated emotions, and sooth the wretched mother, she almost fainted: when the unhappy parent forced tears from her, by saying, "I deserve this blow; my partial fondness made me neglect him, when most he wanted a mother's care; this neglect, perhaps, first injured his constitution: righteous Heaven has made my crime its own punishment; and now I am indeed a mother, I shall loss my child--my only child!"

When they were a little more composed they hastened to the invalide; but during the short ride, the mother related several instances of Henry's goodness of heart. Mary's tears were not those of unmixed anguish; the display of his virtues gave her extreme delight--yet human nature prevailed; she trembled to think they would soon unfold themselves in a more genial clime.