The Foe in the Household

CHAPTER XXX.

THE evening train that brought Mr. Boyd to Emerald brought also the mail from all the country round about. One letter was delivered to Dr. Detwiler ; he read it in his office at twilight, and after that paced the floor till daybreak.

“ Dear fellow,” it began. He glanced from this familiar address to the signature, and saw a name that made him read as if the contents must be of vital importance. “ I have just read your article in the Eclectic, and shake hands with you on it. It has the right ring; and then, and moreover, it tells me of your whereabouts. I am helped out of a difficulty ; at least I am greatly relieved. Last week I received a letter from your region, informing me that an heir to the Rolfe estate was living in Swatara. The letter had no signature, and I should have been tempted to throw it aside, and wait what would follow, had I not met with your article, which seems to show a direct way of getting at facts. It seems to me incredible that there should be an heir, and you not know it, and no claim made, till now, to the property which Rolfe’s sister bequeathed to me for Asylum purposes. What do you know about it? Nothing, of course, or you would have notified me. But can you find out anything ? −where this letter came from, for instance ? If I were quite confident that there was no mistake about your address, I should enclose it; but a man exposes himself and others to difficulties, as you will now perceive, when he goes off and buries himself in the wilderness.

“ The letter was written two weeks since, by an unpractised penman evidently, but legibly enough. As to matter, it is explicit. It claims that the heir is a young lady about seventeen years of age, who can be identified as Rolfe’s daughter and legal heir, if I will come to Swatara. Of course, if the claim can be substantiated, I will come at once.

“ Write me if I shall come up, and where I shall find you.

“ Yours,

“ELK. JOHNSON.”

Early in the morning, Lightfoot was carrying the doctor up through the fog towards the mines. Detwiler rode, knowing whither he went; proceeding directly to the machine-shop, he found John Edgar there already at work. “ What is all this I hear about Mr. Boyd?” he asked, going to the table, with his usual directness of action and of speech.

“He’s done for,” answered John, a little disturbed, evidently, by this visit from the doctor at so unusual an hour.

“ Failed ? ”

“ Yes, sir.”

“ Going away ? ”

“Yes, sir.”

“ Is it possible ? What becomes of all the hands then ? ”

In spite of the Interest evinced by his questions, the doctor carried an atmosphere with him which to John seemed as raw and cold as that of the morning.

“ They stay, the most of them,” he answered, coloring slightly.

“ You, too ? ”

“ O yes, certainly. For a while, at least. The works will go on as before, only with other proprietors.”

“ That is the fact about a good many other things besides coal-mines. The world will go on just the same after we all stop. What can we do about that, eh ? ”

As he talked, the doctor was walking about and looking at everything, in the way he always did when he visited the shop; there was a good deal there to interest a man like him. “Do?” said John, “ I don’t know as anything.”

“We can behave well, at least, as Boyd has done, according to report. Mr. Elsden stays ? ”

“Yes, sir.”

“ I am sorry about Boyd. Sorry about the young man, too. He is such a clean fellow, and plenty of brain of

the best quality.O, John, do you

happen to know anybody in Bath ? ”

“ Bath ? . . . . no, sir.”

“ Not Dr. Johnson ? ”

Edgar hesitated, and then saw that there was but one answer for him to make. “ I have heard of him,” he said.

“ I received a letter from him last night. I want you to go down with me to see the folks at the bishop’s, Edgar. This matter must be looked into.”

“ I had rather not,” said John, and as far as was possible he meant to express a flat refusal to accompany Detwiler. But the doctor took little notice of his reply.

“ It is n’t whether you like it or not,” said he, with an unquestioning right to direct in the matter expressing itself in the tone of his voice and the glance of his eye, as well as in his words. “I don't like it, either. It’s a very awkward piece of business, indeed. But that don’t help us any way. I must answer Dr. Johnson, and before I do so I must talk with Mrs. Holcombe and Edna.”

“You can do that without me, sir.”

“ On the contrary, I cannot go one inch without you. It is your business rather than mine ; but this letter compels me to see what is to be done. Do you know who wrote to Dr. Johnson ? ”

“ I think I can guess.”

“Very well. So do I. Come, then,

I can’t give much time to the business, but I must attend to it the first thing, as you see, to get it off my mind.”

“ The time has come,” thought John ; and he would have been equal to the moment, could he have conferred but for one instant, were it even in the doctor’s presence, with Mr. Elsden. But there was no possibility of that; and it rather pleased the doctor that he should have been able to decide so promptly that it would be best to proceed at once to this interview.

Detwiler mounted his horse again, and John followed on foot; so through the morning mists they came to Bishop Holcombe’s house.

Before they had crossed the creek, the sun shone through the mists ; light fell on the bright little garden, on the old cottage, − guarded on three sides by the hills, − on the wide valley, and on the wooded heights. But neither the man who forded the stream on horseback, nor he who crossed the bridge, noticed the fact. Detwiler only noticed that the minister’s family was probably not alone.

“ Is n’t that Deacon Ent’s horse and wagon ?” he asked.

John stopped to look at the beautiful animal. “ Yes, there’s no mistaking that Indian pony,” he said. He could have talked an hour on the points of the creature ; not that he was a horsefancier, or a judge of any kind of natural beauty, − but time was either of the least or else of the very greatest consequence to him this morning.

The doctor was conscious of a moment’s vacillation when he saw that the church might have its witness in this pending interview. But he reminded himself, “The time has come. Edna shall be saved from this young brute.

I can trust Delia Holcombe to manage her own case.”

When he entered the house, he found Mrs. Holcombe and Edna in the kitchen, and saw that the bishop was also in the house, and preparing to go away. He and his deacon had apparently been discussing some church business, and the conference had come to an end.

Ent was now telling Mrs. Holcombe that Father Trost was suffering a good deal, and that last night he had said he was in hopes she would come to see him, that he expected her, indeed, every day; and August was also expressing his own opinion that this was the old man’s last sickness, or, that if he recovered, he would never be able to resume preaching.

He was speaking, Delia listening, when they all saw the doctor coming toward the house, followed by John Edgar. Edna saw more than the two figures, − something in their faces which alarmed her. For a moment she looked as if meditating a flight, but then almost instantly she felt the doctors hand upon her shoulder, and something in his strong voice reassured her. He addressed himself to Delia, and his words told her that her hour had come.

“We have come to see you on some business,” he said.

Was it to prove an hour of deliverance ? If so, Delia must still meet in it the gaze of the girl who stood there, and be judged by her ! Not so much did she fear the sentence of the Lord, before whom she had bowed, a suppliant with ashes on her head, these many years, as that which should proceed from her child’s lips.

The bishop, who had not heard the doctor’s words, came now and grasped his hand, with salute and farewell in his cordial “ Good morning, brother.”

“You have come at a fortunate moment, doctor,” said Delia, a little hurriedly, for it was borne in upon her that an opportunity had come which it would be to her ruin to refuse, − an opportunity to speak for the truth and against herself before Friend Holcombe ; “ my husband would have been away in two minutes, and you know we cannot transact business of importance without him.”

The doctor had not calculated wrongly : whatever might follow what he had to say, he felt that he might leave the result in Delia’s hands.

“ I have a letter here from my old friend, Dr. Johnson of Bath,” said he. “ fohn Edgar, or somebody else, has been giving him information that Edward Rolfe left an heir in Swatara. Do you think it’s likely ? Can you tell us anything about it ? ”

He looked from Delia to Friend Holcombe; but they were looking at Edna, and his gaze followed theirs. She was standing an image of terror, and of unforgiving reproach, with her eyes fixed upon John.

“ What have you done ! ” she exclaimed, taking one single step towards him, and pausing then, confused, and rent by her remembrances of love, her pity, and her wrath.

“ I have been looking out for your rights, since there was nobody else to do it,” he answered, not defiant or dogged, for it was to Edna he was speaking, but sufficiently resolute to maintain the ground he held.

“ Perhaps you can tell us what this means, then,” said the doctor, turning to him.

“ I can tell you,” replied Edgar, facing him, and answering sharply, − “ I can tell you that I am pretty certain that Miss Edna is the daughter of Mr. Rolfe, and that there ’s a large property that belongs to her by right. I am willing to stake most anything on that.”

“ Is that all you can tell ? ” asked Delia.

Edgar was silent. He looked neither at the questioner nor at Edna ; he was facing Detwiler, and accounting him his enemy.

I can tell you more than that,” continued Delia. “You need not spend any more time searching out the mystery. Edna is mine. She is my child. She is my daughter. Tell Dr. Johnson to go and ask Father Trost for information. He married Edward Rolfe and me. Young man, do you hear?”

It was a terrible moment in John Edgar’s life when the eyes of Delia Holcombe fell upon him. His face became scarlet, and then pale. He trembled in every nerve, and felt as if he were about to fall ; yet he stood without betraying his emotion. At last, he turned quite away from her, as if to break a spell which he felt to be intolerable.

He looked at Edna, at the doctor, and his last hope fled. If he had felt secure in having won that girl, he had now in himself incontestable evidence that he had lost her forever. But he must speak. He answered Mrs. Holcombe. “No, madam,” he said, “I have not heard. Doctor, it was devilish if you brought me for this. I could not suspect − that Mrs. Holcombe − ”

“ Go ! ” said Edna, suddenly ; and she said no more, nor was it needful that she should.

“ Let him go,” said the doctor. “ He has finished his work.” He looked at Delia. She stood with a gaze piercing eternity.

But something in time touched her. She had for her part said all. She had done with earth. What could command her, of all duties or cares now ? Love, springing as it were from the grave, and with the warmth of passion throwing itself on her bosom.

“ O my mother ! ” said its voice. “ Look at me! kiss me ! speak to me ! ”

Delia’s face bent. Her eyes lowered. She had not dared to meet the gaze that sought them ; and yet, meeting it, she saw only love and pity.

Then she turned away from the child. Friend Holcombe was standing there as if he had been struck dumb. Death could not have so utterly removed his wife from him as had the disclosure of these last moments.

Her glance toward him seemed to unlock his lips. “ Delia, why did you keep this to yourself?” said he.

She shook her head in dumb distress ; at last she found voice to say, “ I loved you.”

“It is the truth,” the doctor silently commented; “she could say nothing better.”

But Friend Holcombe could not receive it. He could not smile and speak tender and soothing words to her, and so make nothing of this offence. He did not open his arms, he stood with them folded on his breast.

“ Could it be love ? ” he said. “ I reckoned your love better than anything else in this world, Delia.”

“ I know you did. I could not bear to let you see the truth. I had no right to keep the place I held so long. See how God has driven me from it at last. I say, His will be done. I am no hypocrite now.”

“ God open his eyes to see what this woman is!” prayed the doctor.

“ Do not say He has banished you ; but I feel as if the world were in ruins,” said Mr. Holcombe. He sat down and buried his face in his hands ; and he had not used too strong language to express his thought.

Then came, clear and steady, the voice of Delia to comfort him. “ God can make a new world for you. Friend. He will ; but first − ” then she looked at the doctor, and spoke more rapidly − “I have something to do first. Will you go up to see Father Trost with me ? Come, all of you. He will certify that I have spoken truth.”

“ Delia, do you think that I need evidence ? No, I do not.Your word is sufficient.”

“ But for this child’s sake,” said Detwiler, now speaking. “Yes, Friend, let us go for that testimony. If we wait, it may be too late. Trost is failing every day.”

He arose as he spoke. He was ready to go at once, or to assist in any preparations that would hasten their departure. Anything to quicken the action of Friend Holcombe’s brain.

“ For the child’s sake, we will go,” said the bishop, at length, and he walked out of the room ; then he looked back. “Where is Ent ? ” he said, surprised that he did not find him waiting.

The doctor went to the door and called, and the deacon, who had been walking in the garden, came, and they all saw that there was no need of explaining the business before them to him. After a moment’s hesitation he went to Mrs. Holcombe and said : −

“ I understand now why you were so kind to us. Mary says she loves you as if you were her mother. I thank you for what you have done for us.”

“ Yes,” she answered, “ the gracious Lord permitted me to save you from an hour like this.” ABOUT noon this party stood under the roof of Father Trost.

CHAPTER XXXI.

The old man was not to be disappointed, on this day, of his expectation of Dely Hulcum.

“ Come,” said Delia to Mary, whom she found in the kitchen porch,− “ come and hear why I trembled for you, child.”

There is no judgment so searching, so terrible, as that which the righteous will pass upon himself. He cannot escape it; he may elude accusers, but the avenger is omnipresent and undying. The weapons of warfare were forever removed from the hands of Father Trost, however, when he heard Delia Holcombe, standing by his bedside, say, before these witnesses : −

“ Father Trost, I have come to ask you to certify to what you could not write for me.”

The old man looked around upon these persons Mary had brought into his room, astonished. From one face to another his eyes wandered, and in the soul of him he felt abashed. But only for a moment. He had expected that Mrs. Holcombe would come; he had looked for her all the week ; he had expressed to Ent, who had been so kind during his sickness, a desire to see her, which had in part occasioned his early visit at the bishop’s house that morning ; but he did not expect to see her come attended by this cloud of witnesses ; and there was something so grand in her aspect, the solemnity of her bearing so much impressed him, that he must now think of her as anything but a criminal brought before him for judgment. That was a great moment ; perhaps the great moment of life for him.

But, coming at that hour and moment, the sword that was in his hand was turned against himself. What ailed him ? His lips moved, but, when they listened for the words which should come forth, no words came. The lips that had reviled would revile no more. The testimony which he had rejoiced to know must be asked of him in the presence of witnesses was asked of him, and lo ! his mouth was shut.

The doctor stepped towards the bed, after a minute of this ineffectual effort to speak had passed. He bent his car towards Trost : even one witness would suffice, and he would be that witness ; but in an instant he lifted his head again. “ Paralysis,” he said, turning to Friend Holcombe and the deacon.

Then the people whom Trost had fought as the enemies of righteousness showed themselves his friends, and the Hall of Judgment became the Court of Charity.

“He will not recover from that stroke ; his hours are numbered,” said the doctor, a little later. “Holcombe, you had better go home. Delia insists on staying with Mary overnight. Edna can go with you. I shall stay.”

Mr. Holcombe was fortunate in having Detwiler to direct him, and he obeyed. Was it probable that he would ever forget the words of Edna as he closed Trost’s gate behind him,−

“Have I lost a father to-day, Mr. Holcombe, as well as found one ?”

He did not instantly answer; but after a brief pause he said: “The Lord bless you, my child ! my daughter from the hand of the Lord.” And then he stooped and kissed her.

Father Trost wets living yet, and had before him the possibility of many days of life, when Bishop Holcombe summoned Deacon Ent to attend a church meeting in the Valley meetinghouse.

The announcement that the meeting would be held had been made on the preceding Sunday, and the bishop explained the nature of the business then to be considered to the deacon when he said: “My wife will expect you. Do not fail us.”

He could say no more, but that sufficed.

“ Father Trost will have no more testimony to bring against us in this world,” said August, as if impelled to attempt the rescue of a precious life in peril.

“Delia will have it so,”Friend Holcombe answered. “ I abide by her decision.”

This was the simple fact. He had waited to learn the course that Delia would take, and had stood prepared to resign his office if she should decide that the time for a public confession had forever passed.

“ I owe confession to our people, and to my gracious Lord,” said she ; and she did not add that she owed it to herself−the self that died so long ago.

It was but a small company that assembled for that week-day meeting. A few only of the more zealous of the brethren came from farm and workshop to discuss the business the bishop had to lay before them, -− attempted to lay before them, I should say. He broke down in the words with which he endeavored to prepare Delia’s confession. Then she arose, and underneath her were those everlasting arms which never yet failed a human creature that relied on them in utmost peril and extremest need. The homage of a mortal’s faith is justified of The Almighty. So she stood, and saw, as it were, heaven open, and pitying angels waiting for her words.

The pathos and the power of her voice, as she acknowledged her false discipleship, and thanked Him who had at last brought her to that place and hour, praying man’s forgiveness, as she had sought that of Heaven, moved the most stolid heart in the little company. What need to dwell on the astonishment occasioned by her words ? It was short-lived, indeed; and when Deacon Ahern arose and said, “ Let him that is without sin condemn this woman.” the record of her life among them seemed to force itself in between the people and that testimony she had given against herself.

So they received her back who, while she stood so conspicuously among them, had carried the sense of exile in her heart. The sun shone, the birds sang, the earth and the heavens were glad. Delia was at home once more. When she looked around her, no face was turned away. No eyes were averted. They all loved her. They loved and honored her who had so loved and honored them. She was not to be wounded here in the house of friends.

Indeed it almost seemed, when she stood among that little company after the meeting was dismissed, as if she had come there for congratulation and for homage. But if there were deepseeing eyes in the congregation that day, they saw that the pitcher was broken at the fountain.

CHAPTER XXXII.

WHEN John Edgar left Bishop Holcombe’s house it seemed to him that he was retiring from a field on which he had fought with Dr. Detwiler, −and as a vanquished man.

He considered, and determined that he must get away from Swatara. It appeared to him, as he looked over the past months, that he had permitted himself to be led on, if one could imagine such a thing, to destruction, by Mr. Elsden. Unformed in character, ambitious, destitute of clearly perceived aims, he had been imposed upon where he could most easily be imposed upon, by the name which should, as he believed it did, involve all courtesy, chivalry, generosity, and magnanimity, every power of duty, every possibility of love, − the name of gentleman.

He sat down in his workshop after the interview in the minister’s house, and said to himself: “ Mr. Elsden led me wrong. The doctor was right. I am not fit for her.” And then he thought of Maxwell Boyd with a fierce spasm of jealousy, as of one who might be worthy of her; and a desire for vengeance leaped within him. But what should he do ? He was powerless.

Nothing could be clearer to him than that he must go away. And he went that night. But before he departed he so far got the better of himself that he penned a note to Maxwell and wished him well, and told him that he had gone to seek his fortune elsewhere; and would he do him the favor to say so to Mr. Elsden ? What he had said to him up there at his house about Miss Edna was all folly, as he now saw very plainly. He hoped that some time he should hear that the young lady was married to a man who was worthy of her, though perhaps there was not one living who would love her with more sincerity than he did.

Mr. Elsden was surprised, vexed, and suspicious, when Max told him that John had departed. He had need of him. He could have made the young man greatly useful to himself. Besides, he could have prosecuted Edna’s claim with vigor, had it met with obstruction in John’s hands. Her money, invested in Pit Hole and in Hook, would have secured a handsome profit. There could be no better investment. He was disappointed and chagrined at the turn affairs had taken, but he was no bungler, and Could not in the long run miscalculate.

It is almost needless to state that he never produced that certificate of which he had accidentally become the holder: there were low-minded persons who might thereupon have misconstrued his friendly relations with Father Trost, and his relations with John Edgar ; and so he concluded to destroy the document.

After the departure of the Boyds he carried out his plans in a manner that justified his expectations. These plans, so carefully laid, failed in no particular. He found parties who became satisfied that there was an abundance of ironore in Pit Hole and in Hook, and money was forthcoming for the furtherance of Ids enterprises. And so he realized at last the dream of years. The debts which had hung like millstones around his neck were paid − even those that were outlawed − with the interest accruing.

Time went on, and he returned to the world, to society, to his books, and to his leisure, leaving behind him Swatara, its mines, and its Mennonites. When Father Trost had fought his fight and departed from this life, his granddaughter gave in her testimony that “too far east is west,” and joined the people whom the old man had been called to “sift as wheat,” and to “try as silver is tried.”

The doctor urged successfully in Mr. Holcombe’s house that Edna should be sent away to school. He spoke to Friend and Delia, as he had before spoken to Edna, about his sister and her daughters, and suggested that in justice to Rolfe his daughter should have the best educational advantages that could be secured.

“ Barlow,” he said, “is already interested in her progress. He will be more interested, for she has all her father’s genius. Her mind craves food. Besides, this business with John has had its influence. If she goes away from here right off, art and nature will cure her ; but if she stays, she will be dwelling on what has happened till she gets morbid and miserable. What do you think, Delia ? ”

“ She must go,” said Delia.

But before she went Detwiler had received a second letter from Dr. Johnson, which contained round figures enough to set the brains of our people to calculating in a way to which they were altogether unaccustomed. The Asylum was now a self-supporting institution, and Dr. Johnson was not disposed to retain the money he happened to hold, when he understood the nature of Edna’s claim on Rolfe’s estate. In whatever shape Rolfe’s money was desired, it should be forthcoming.

Does anybody consider it a pity that the letter containing this statement was addressed to Dr. Detwiler, instead of John Edgar? John had his work to do, in the world within him and the world without him ; and is that man unblessed who has discovered his field, and secured his tools ? He might perhaps have grown away from Edna ; but it is not probable that, under the best of circumstances, she would not have grown away from him. She would have been burdened with the care of his life, and have lived for duty long after she had ceased to live for love. In this burden-bearing world some cheerful soul may inquire, “Was she not then the appointed agent of that lad’s salvation?” No doubt she was. But the saviors are not all slain for the captives whom they deliver. It was well for John that he had loved Edna,− better for both that he failed in binding her life to his.

Besides the note addressed to himself, Maxwell found in the shop where John had lived, moved, and had his being, a little package addressed to “Edna Rolfe.” The hand of John had been the first to write her name. Max gave the package, containing a book on drawing which John had procured for Edna, and another volume which he had borrowed of her, to Mrs. Holcombe. “ Poor fellow ! ” she said.

On the day when about to depart with Christopher from Swatara, Maxwell visited the house again, and acknowledged and confided to Delia the great hope that was in his heart, concerning Edna. “ If I may ever call you mother,” he said, “ it will make me as happy almost as it would to call her wife.”

“ The Lord bless you,” she answered,−"and bless me so much as to give ray child to you.”

Christopher had already explained to Mrs. Holcombe, as Max was aware, that foremost among the claims against him he recognized her daughter’s.

The youth left behind him a remembrancer which made Delia spend musing and silent hours after he had departed. Half the books he had brought to Swatara he left for Edna ; they were books that would help her in her work, books of value to the student.

Likewise had Edward Rolfe done. And the books and the life were his evidence ! Was there evil omen in this ?

The Lord was merciful. Those books were a perpetual reminder to Edna. Had there been in John Edgar that which could have inspired more than pity in the girl’s heart, it would he pitiful to record that she put his last gifts out of sight, and gave her mind with all diligence to the books Max left behind him. But John had so rudely torn the ground on which she had stood, that she removed thence, and shuddered to think how in this act he had resembled the blind, awful forces of nature. And Edna could never forget the behavior of Max towards her mother ; the reverence, homage, love, which had of him such strong and beautiful expression. He understood Mrs. Holcombe in a way that did honor to himself; and Edna perceived the truth.

And then he had gone away in trouble, sharing his brother’s losses. Yet with such good courage, and so eager to show Christopher that he was worthy of his highest confidence! It was not likely that he would be forgotten in the bishop’s house, or that Edna would not carry with her a remembrance of him, pleasant, and more precious than she herself understood, when she went with the doctor from Swatara.

All winter, letters were carried across the creek to the house in the shadow of the hills. They were carried to and fro. The young man who was working in the distant West, and the girl who gave herself so diligently to her studies in the East, each in the appointed and the chosen sphere, with ardor to good purpose, heard now and then from each other, through the dear guardian of their lives. In the spring they went back again to Bishop Holcombe’s house, − Max as his brother’s agent, to pay his creditors, Edna and the miners.

It was a spring of joys to youth. They met at the Emerald station, and went on to Swatara together. The meeting was not by chance ; for Max knew the day appointed for Edna’s return, and had accordingly waited through the day for the arrival of the evening train. He thought it would be a happy thing to take her back to her mother ; an omen of further good might lurk in such a piece of good fortune. He was the first to welcome Edna home again ; but it was evident that the bishop and the doctor could not be far away. So it was that they all went together to the house beyond the river.

A spring of joys to youth ! But while the months had given ever-deepening and enlarged life to these young ones, what had they done for her of whom chiefly this tale has keen told ? Going out of the world ! Going down to the grave ! They have come, it would seem, to catch the last brightness of her smile, the last glimpse of her departing glory.

Friend Holcombe, who through many a dreary day appeared to see a gulf between himself and Delia, had at last bridged that gulf, as the winter wore away. Man never came so near to woman ; life was never more completely merged in life. He had forgiven her, and had said that there was nothing to forgive. She knew there was; but it is gladness to think that, while she knew this, she knew also that she was secure in her husband’s love.

When she saw Edward’s daughter coming back with the eager step of happy youth, followed by Maxwell Boyd, strength returned to her soul, and brightness to her dear eyes; she went about the house with the activity of old time ; but no new day’s gladness could restore the old time’s vigor.

“This can last but a few days. She will spend in a week what she will never get back again,”said the doctor to Mr. Holcombe. “But it is her great harvest of joy ; − better to die, reaping it.”

But that was a conclusion to which the bishop could not come without tears; and he answered: “You must not leave us again. Stay here ; let me feel that we have you, or I cannot bear it.”

But the young eyes were holden. They saw only what a word could explain,− work-weariness, −too constant serving ; and Edna said, “ I have come to serve in her place, and she shall have rest.” So easily would she mend the irreparable breach !

Maxwell stayed one week in Swatara, and the bishop’s house was his home. Before he went away he said to Della : −

“ I have been speaking to Edna. She has given me−” When he had spoken thus far he took her hand and reverently kissed it. His tears fell fast and hindered his speech.

“ Has God given you to me, Maxwell, for a son ? ”

“ Mother ! ”

Sweeter sound than that could never fail on Delia’s ear.

“ Thank God ! ” she said.

But the consummation of joy was not for her. It was after she had departed this life that Friend Holcombe pronounced a fatherly and a priestly blessing on the daughter and the son of Delia.

The doctor was living with him then ; and year after year, as the young people came back to set in order the house which was forever sacred to Delia Holcombe’s memory, and to make it bright and cheerful through the summer months, they found those two pursuing their labors of love in the patience of hope.