"THESE things happened last winter, sir," said Mrs. Dean; "hardly more than a year ago.
Last winter, I did not think, at another twelve months' end, I should be amusing a stranger
to the family with relating them! Yet, who knows how long you'll be a stranger? You're
too young to rest always contented, living by yourself; and I some way fancy no one
could see Catherine Linton and not love her. You smile; but why do you look so lively
and interested, when I talk about her? and why have you asked me to hang her picture
over your fireplace? and why--"
"Stop, my good friend!" I cried. "It may be very possible that I should love her; but
would she love me? I doubt it too much to venture my tranquillity by running into
temptation: and then my home is not here. I'm of the busy world, and to its arms I must
return. Go on. Was Catherine obedient to her father's commands?"
"She was," continued the housekeeper, "Her affection for him was still the chief
sentiment in her heart; and he spoke without anger: he spoke in the deep tenderness of
one about to leave his treasure amid perils and foes, where his remembered words would
be the only aid that he could bequeath to guide her.
He said to me, a few days afterwards:
"'I wish my nephew would write, Ellen, or call. Tell me, sincerely, what you think of him:
is he changed for the better, or is there a prospect of improvement, as he grows a man?'
"'He's very delicate, sir,' I replied; 'and scarcely likely to reach manhood; but this I can
say, he does not resemble his father; and if Miss Catherine had the misfortune to marry
him, he would not be beyond her control: unless she were extremely and foolishly
indulgent. However, master, you'll have plenty of time to get acquainted with him, and
see whether he would suit her: it wants four years and more to his being of age.'"
Edgar sighed; and walking to the window, looked out towards Gimmerton Kirk. It was a
misty afternoon, but the February sun shone dimly, and we could just distinguish the two
fir-trees in the yards, and the sparsely scattered gravestones.
"I've prayed often," he half soliloquised, "for the approach of what is coming; and now I
begin to shrink, and fear it. I thought the memory of the hour I came down that glen a
bridegroom would be less sweet than the anticipation that I was soon, in a few months,
or, possibly, weeks, to be carried up, and laid in its lonely hollow! Ellen, I've been very
happy with my little Cathy: through winter nights and summer days she was a living hope
at my side. But I've been as happy musing by myself among those stones, under that old
church: lying, through the long June evenings, on the green mound of her mother's grave,
and wishing---yearning for the time when I might lie beneath it. What can I do for Cathy?