was the closest thing to hell he ever hoped to know. The
"It's me, father; won't you let me in, for its dark out here, and lonesome, with her lying in the parlor. Oh, father, won't you love me a little, now mother's dead? I can't help it because I'm lame, and when I'm a man I will earn my own living. I won't be in the way. Say, pa, will you love me?"
He remembered the charges his father had preferred against him, and the father remembered them too. She to whom the cruel words were spoken was gone from him now and her child, their child, was at the door, pleading for his love. Could he refuse? No, by every kindly feeling, by every parental tie, we answer, No; he could not; and opening the door he took the little fellow in his arms, hugging him to his bosom, while tears, the first he had shed for many a year, fell like rain upon the face of his crippled boy. Like some mighty water, which breaking through its prison walls seeks again its natural channel, so did his love go out toward the child so long neglected, the child who was not now to him a cripple. He did not think of the deformity, he did not even see it. He saw only the beautiful face, the soft brown eyes and silken hair of the little one, who ere long fell asleep, murmuring in his dreams, "He loves me, ma, he does."
Surely the father cannot be blamed if, when he looked again upon the calm face of the dead, he fancied that it wore a happier look, as if the whispered words of Louis had reached her unconscious ear. Very beautiful looked Matty in her coffin--for thirty years had but slightly marred her youthful face, and the doctor, as he gazed upon her, thought within himself, "she was almost as fair as Maude Glendower."
Then, as his eye fell upon the rosebud which Janet had laid upon her bosom, he said, "'Twas kind in Mrs. Blodgett to place it there, for Matty was fond of flowers;" but he did not dream how closely was that rosebud connected with a grave made many years before.
Thoughts of Maude Glendower and mementos of Harry Remington meeting together at Matty's coffin! Alas, that such should be our life!
Underneath the willows, and by the side of Katy, was Matty laid to rest, and then the desolate old house seemed doubly desolate--Maude mourning truly for her mother, while the impulsive Nellie, too, wept bitterly for one whom she had really loved. To the doctor, however, a new feeling had been born, and in the society of his son he found a balm for his sorrow, becoming ere long, to all outward appearance, the same exacting, overbearing man he had been before. The blows are hard and oft repeated which break the solid rock, and there will come a time when that selfish nature shall be subdued and broken down; but 'tis not yet--not yet.
And now, leaving him a while to himself, we will pass on to a period when Maude herself shall become in reality the heroine of our story.
Four years and a half have passed away since the dark November night when Matty Kennedy died, and in her home all things are not as they were then. Janet, the presiding genius of the household, is gone-- married a second time, and by this means escaped, as she verily believes, the embarrassment of refusing outright to be Mrs. Dr. Kennedy, No. 3! Not that Dr. Kennedy ever entertained the slightest idea of making her his wife, but knowing how highly he valued money, and being herself "a woman of property," Janet came at last to fancy that he had serious thoughts of offering himself to her. He, on the contrary, was only intent upon the best means of removing her from his house, for, though he was not insensible to the comfort which her presence brought, it was a comfort for which he paid too dearly. Still he endured it for nearly three years, but at the end of that time he determined that she should go away, and as he dreaded a scene he did not tell her plainly what he meant, but hinted, and with each hint the widow groaned afresh over her lamented Joel.
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