The Legacy of Cain
40. The Bruised Heart
When we stepped out on the landing, I observed that my companion paused. She looked
at the two flights of stairs below us before she descended them. It occurred to me that
there must be somebody in the house whom she was anxious to avoid.
Arrived at the lower hall, she paused again, and proposed in a whisper that we should go
into the garden. As we advanced along the backward division of the hall, I saw her eyes
turn distrustfully toward the door of the room in which Helena had received me. At last,
my slow perceptions felt with her and understood her. Eunice's sensitive nature recoiled
from a chance meeting with the wretch who had laid waste all that had once been happy
and hopeful in that harmless young life.
"Will you come with me to the part of the garden that I am fondest of?" she asked.
I offered her my arm. She led me in silence to a rustic seat, placed under the shade of a
mulberry tree. I saw a change in her face as we sat down--a tender and beautiful change.
At that moment the girl's heart was far away from me. There was some association with
this corner of the garden, on which I felt that I must not intrude.
"I was once very happy here," she said. "When the time of the heartache came soon after,
I was afraid to look at the old tree and the bench under it. But that is all over now. I like
to remember the hours that were once dear to me, and to see the place that recalls them.
Do you know who I am thinking of? Don't be afraid of distressing me. I never cry now."
"My dear child, I have heard your sad story--but I can't trust myself to speak of it."
"Because you are so sorry for me?"
"No words can say how sorry I am!"
"But you are not angry with Philip?"
"Not angry! My poor dear, I am afraid to tell you how angry I am with him."
"Oh, no! You mustn't say that. If you wish to be kind to me--and I am sure you do wish
it--don't think bitterly of Philip."
When I remember that the first feeling she roused in me was nothing worthier of a
professing Christian than astonishment, I drop in my own estimation to the level of a
savage. "Do you really mean," I was base enough to ask, "that you have forgiven him?"
She said, gently: "How could I help forgiving him?"