They respected the bitterness of his uncontrollable sorrow; no idle words of sympathy were offered to him; men passed him by with an averted face--women with tearful eyes.
Lord Earle was alone with his dead child. In a little while nothing would remain of his beautiful, brilliant daughter but a memory and a name. He did not weep; his sorrow lay too deep for tears. In his heart he was asking pardon for the sins and follies of his youth; his face was buried in his hands, his head bowed over the silent form of his loved child; and when the door opened gently, he never raised his eyes--he was only conscious that some one entered the room, and walked swiftly up the gloomy, darkened chamber to the bedside. Then a passionate wailing that chilled his very blood filled the rooms.
"My Beatrice, my darling! Why could I not have died for you?"
Some one bent over the quiet figure, clasping it in tender arms, calling with a thousand loving words upon the dear one who lay there--some one whose voice fell like a strain of long-forgotten music upon his ears. Who but a mother could weep as she did? Who but a mother forget everything else in the abandonment of her sorrow, and remember only the dead?
Before he looked up, he knew it was Dora--the mother bereft of her child--the mother clasping in her loving arms the child she had nursed, watched, and loved for so many years. She gazed at him, and he never forgot the woeful, weeping face.
"Ronald," she cried, "I trusted my darling to you; what has happened to her?"
The first words for many long years--the first since he had turned round upon her in his contempt, hoping he might be forgiven for having made her his wife.
She seemed to forget him then, and laid her head down upon the quiet heart; but Ronald went round to her. He raised her in his arms, he laid the weeping face on his breast, he kissed away the blinding tears, and she cried to him: