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He will forgive the child. The child was not born in shame. He will surely love it, for he loved me once. Come to me.
I will tell you his
name—a name I dare not writename I never uttered since I first disgraced it. Let me hear a promise from your own lips that you will find him, that you will make him take my child, and I shall die better prepared to meet the face of one whom I shall soon confront in another world."
As More read the letter, he could hardly believe Winter was the heartless villain he must be, if this statement proved true. He at once made
his mind to leave Mona the next day; and determined to see the woman at the place whence she had directed her letter.
All the generous emotions of his heart were wound to the highest pitch by the description the outcast had given of her wretched state. He was resolved to help mother or child in some way; and if Winter turned out the real cause of their misery, he was fully resolved to call him to account, and henceforth to eschew the acquaintance entirely.
Such was the state of his feelings on the day before he was to leave Mona. He had passed a sleepless night, and had risen to go out long before anybody in the house wa astir. He came in late to breakfast, and, as usual, found his seat next to Lady Eda unoccupied. They shook hands.
“What makes you so late ?" she asked.
“I have been out walking,” he replied. "I could not sleep, and have been up these four hours."
“ How odd !” said Lady Eda; “exactly the same thing happened to me; and now I am fatigued, and have got a head-ache."
“I feel sad, too, somehow, at the thoughts of going away to-morrow.”
“Must you go ?” she inquired.
“Yes, it is a 'must.' But I hope to have the pleasure of paying Mona another visit some future day."
More waited for an answer. Lady Eda lowered her voice, and with a slight accent of pathos in her tone, repeated one of the well-known stanzas from the "Psalm of Life :"
“ Trust no future, howe'er pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead.
Pierce made no reply.
When breakfast was over, he went out, and pondered for hours on the dubious meaning of the quoted stanza. He repeated the lines a hundred times, and gave a thousand constructions to
“Trust no future, howe'er pleasant ?” There could be but one interpretation to that. “ Let the dead past bury its dead.” Forget everything! There was no
room for hope. If the stanza had stopped here, it would have told all, and he might have listened to the warning. But the second part, the last part, the conclusion :“ Act ! Act! in the living present,—Heart within and God o'erhead !" Act! act! and trust. This was as evident as the other; and all day long he muttered to himself his last deduction, “ Act! and trust! Act! and trust!" As the day wore on, he began to tremble lest he should have no opportunity to speak what now he must and would speak, if chance gave him the opportunity. He sat for an hour by himself in the long drawingroom, and his heart beat at every step that came near the door. Whenever any one looked in, he was disappointed, but still rather relieved that it was not Eda. At last he heard by accident that she had gone
to the village to see a poor sick woman. There was a possibility he might meet her as she returned, so he left the house, and
took the path by the shrubbery. The path was one of a number of rides cut through a wood of handsome ilexes. The rays of the setting sun scarcely penetrated the thick masses of foliage ; but patches of the gorgeous sky peeped through the open vistas; throwing, by contrast, the dark canopy into deeper shade. The evening was almost to sultriness. Hardly a breath stirred the leaves ; and so still was all around him that, as the wood-pigeons every now and then broke with noisy flappings from out the trees, More started at the sudden interruption to his absent thoughts.
Here and there, under the largest of the ilexes, stood a rough bench or an old stump which served for a seat. Pierce was thinking to rest on one of these, as the best chance of seeing Lady Eda on her return home. He approached the nearest, but paused when within a few yards of it to listen to the sound of a voice proceeding from the very