The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 36
The matron who alone has stood
When not a prop seemed left below,
The first lorn hour of widowhood,
Yet, cheered and cheering all the while,
With sad but unaffected, smile.--CHRISTIAN YEAR
The four months' wife was a widow before she was twenty-one, and there she sat in her
loneliness, her maid weeping, seeking in vain for something to say that might comfort
her, and struck with fear at seeing her thus composed. It might be said that she had not
yet realized her situation, but the truth was, perhaps, that she was in the midst of the true
realities. She felt that her Guy was perfectly happy--happy beyond thought or
comparison--and she was so accustomed to rejoice with him, that her mind had not yet
opened to understand that his joy left her mourning and desolate.
Thus she remained motionless for some minutes, till she was startled by a sound of
weeping--those fearful overpowering sobs, so terrible in a strong man forced to give way.
'Philip!' thought she; and withal Guy's words returned-- 'It will be worse for him than for
you. Take care of him.'
'I must go to him,' said she at once.
She took up a purple prayer-book that she had unconsciously brought in her hand from
Guy's bed, and walked down-stairs, without pausing to think what she should say or do,
or remembering how she would naturally have shrunk from the sight of violent grief.
Philip had retired to his own room the night before, overwhelmed by the first full view of
the extent of the injuries he had inflicted, the first perception that pride and malevolence
had been the true source of his prejudice and misconceptions, and for the first time
conscious of the long-fostered conceit that had been his bane from boyhood. All had
flashed on him with the discovery of the true purpose of the demand which he thought
had justified his persecution. He saw the glory of Guy's character and the part he had
acted,--the scales of self- admiration fell from his eyes, and he knew both himself and his
His sole comfort was in hope for the future, and in devising how his brotherly affection
should for the rest of his life testify his altered mind, and atone for past ill-will. This
alone kept him from being completely crushed,--for he by no means imagined how near
the end was, and the physician, willing to spare himself pain, left him in hopes, though
knowing how it would be. He slept but little, and was very languid in the morning; but he
rose as soon as Arnaud came to him, in order not to occupy Arnaud's time, as well as to
be ready in case Guy should send for him again, auguring well from hearing that there
was nothing stirring above, hoping this was a sign that Guy was asleep. So hoped the two