Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/111

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“On presenting my card I was shown into a small library where the young woman received me with tender cordiality, and, after closing the door so that we might not be overheard, she gave me an outline of the ordeal I was about to go through. With her eyes brimming tears she told me how her mother had only allowed her son to leave home because of the pressure brought to bear upon her by his uncle, who was interested in the company; how she daily, almost hourly, blamed herself for his death; how, during the years of his absence, she had lived on his letters, and when mine came, telling her of his end, she had sat dazed and paralyzed for hours, the open page in her lap—no word escaping her—no tears—only the dull pain of a grief which seemed to freeze the blood in her veins. Since that time she had counted the days to my coming, that she might hear the details of his last illness and suffering.

“You can imagine how I felt. I have never been able to face a woman when she is broken down with grief, and but that she was expecting me every minute, and had set her heart on my coming, I think I should have been cowardly enough to have left the house.