Mrs. Clements looked me anxiously in the face.
"I see your mind is made up, sir," she said. "I will give you the address."
I wrote it down in my pocket-book and then took her hand to say farewell.
"You shall hear from me soon," I said; "you shall know all that I have promised to tell you."
Mrs. Clements sighed and shook her head doubtfully.
"An old woman's advice is sometimes worth taking, sir," she said. "Think twice before you go to Welmingham."
When I reached home again after my interview with Mrs. Clements, I was struck by the appearance of a change in Laura.
The unvarying gentleness and patience which long misfortune had tried so cruelly and had never conquered yet, seemed now to have suddenly failed her. Insensible to all Marian's attempts to soothe and amuse her, she sat, with her neglected drawing pushed away on the table, her eyes resolutely cast down, her fingers twining and untwining themselves restlessly in her lap. Marian rose when I came in, with a silent distress in her face, waited for a moment to see if Laura would look up at my approach, whispered to me, "Try if you can rouse her," and left the room.
I sat down in the vacant chair—gently unclasped the poor, worn, restless fingers, and took both her hands in mine.
"What are you thinking of, Laura? Tell me, my darling—try and tell me what it is."
She struggled with herself, and raised her eyes to mine. "I can't feel happy," she said, "I can't help thinking——" She stopped, bent forward a little, and laid her head on my shoulder, with a terrible mute helplessness that struck me to the heart.
"Try to tell me," I repeated gently; "try to tell me why you are not happy."
"I am so useless—I am such a burden on both of you," she answered, with a weary, hopeless sigh. "You work and get money, Walter, and Marian helps you. Why is there nothing I can do? You will end in liking Marian better than you like me—you will, because I am so helpless! Oh, don't, don't, don't treat me like a child!"
I raised her head, and smoothed away the tangled hair that fell over her face, and kissed her—my poor, faded fl