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The Heir of Redclyffe

Chapter 40
Blest, though every tear that falls
Doth in its silence of past sorrow tell,
And makes a meeting seem most like a dear farewell.--WORDSWORTH
On Saturday afternoon, about half-past five, Philip Morville found himself driving up to
the well-known front door of Hollywell. At the door he heard that every one was out
excepting Lady Morville, who never came down till the evening, save for a drive in the
carriage.
He entered the drawing-room, and gazed on the scene where he had spent so many happy
hours, only darkened by that one evil spot, that had grown till it not only poisoned his
own mind, but cast a gloom over that bright home.
All was as usual. Charles's sofa, little table, books, and inkstand, the work-boxes on the
table, the newspaper in Mr. Edmonstone's old folds. Only the piano was closed, and an
accumulation of books on the hinge told how long it had been so; and the plants in the
bay window were brown and dry, not as when they were Amabel's cherished nurslings.
He remembered Amabel's laughing face and abundant curls, when she carried in the
camellia, and thought how little he guessed then that he should be the destroyer of the
happiness of her young life. How should he meet her--a widow in her father's house--or
look at her fatherless child? He wondered how he had borne to come thither at all, and
shrank at the thought that this very evening, in a few hours, he must see her.
The outer door opened, there was a soft step, and Amabel stood before him, pale, quiet,
and with a smile of welcome. Her bands of hair looked glossy under her widow's cap, and
the deep black of her dress was relieved by the white robes of the babe that lay on her
arm. She held out her hand, and he pressed it in silence.
'I thought you would like just to see baby,' said she, in a voice something like apology.
He held out his arms to take it, for which Amy was by no means prepared. She was not
quite happy even in trusting it in her sister's arms, and she supposed he had never before
touched an infant. But that was all nonsense, and she would not vex him with showing
any reluctance; so she laid the little one on his arm, and saw his great hand holding it
most carefully, but the next moment he turned abruptly from her. Poor silly little Amy,
her heart beat not a little till he turned back, restored the babe, and while he walked
hastily to the window, she saw that two large tear-drops had fallen on the white folds of
its mantle. She did not speak; she guessed how much he must feel in thus holding Guy's
child, and, besides, her own tears would now flow so easily that she must be on her
guard. She sat down, settled the little one on her knee, and gave him time to recover
himself.
 
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