Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


no concealments from each other. She knew how the hope of my life had been wrecked—she knew why I had left her. It was on my lips to ask as composedly as I could, if any letter had come for me from Miss Halcombe—if there was any news of her sister that I might hear. But, when I looked in my mother's face, I lost courage to put the question even in that guarded form. I could only say, doubtingly and restrainedly,

"You have something to tell me."

My sister, who had been sitting opposite to us, rose suddenly, without a word of explanation—rose, and left the room.

My mother moved closer to me on the sofa and put her arms round my neck. Those fond arms trembled; the tears flowed fast over the faithful loving face.

"Walter!" she whispered—"my own darling! my heart is heavy for you. Oh, my son! my son! try to remember that I am still left!"

My head sank on her bosom. She had said all, in saying those words.

*****

It was the morning of the third day since my return—the morning of the sixteenth of October.

I had remained with them at the cottage; I had tried hard not to embitter the happiness of my return, to them, as it was embittered to me. I had done all man could to rise after the shock, and accept my life resignedly—to let my great sorrow come in tenderness to my heart, and not in despair. It was useless and hopeless. No tears soothed my aching eyes; no relief came to me from my sister's sympathy or my mother's love.

On that third morning, I opened my heart to them. At last the words passed my lips which I had longed to speak on the day when my mother told me of her death.

"Let me go away alone, for a little while," I said. "I shall bear it better when I have looked once more at the place where I first saw her—when I have knelt and prayed by the grave where they have laid her to rest."

I departed on my journey—my journey to the grave of Laura Fairlie.

It was a quiet autumn afternoon, when I stopped at the solitary station, and set forth alone, on foot, by the well-remembered road. The waning sun was shining faintly through thin white clouds; the air was warm and still; the