“You won’t think what I am going to say unreasonable, after what you told me, such a little while ago, of Mr. Wickfield’s not being well? I want to see Agnes. Very much I want to see her.”

“I will write to her, my dear.”

“Will you?”


“What a good, kind boy! Doady, take me on your arm. Indeed, my dear, it’s not a whim. It’s not a foolish fancy. I want, very much indeed, to see her!”

“I am certain of it. I have only to tell her so, and she is sure to come.”

“You are very lonely when you go down-stairs, now?” Dora whispers, with her arm about my neck.

“How can I be otherwise, my own love, when I see your empty chair?”

“My empty chair!” She clings to me for a little while, in silence. “And you really miss me, Doady?” looking up, and brightly smiling. “Even poor, giddy, stupid me?”

“My heart, who is there upon earth that I could miss so much?”

“Oh husband! I am so glad, yet so sorry!” creeping closer to me, and folding me in both her arms. She laughs and sobs, and then is quiet, and quite happy.

“Quite!” she says. “Only give Agnes my dear love, and tell her that I want very, very much to see her; and I have nothing left to wish for.”

“Except to get well again, Dora.”

“Ah, Doady! Sometimes I think—you know I always was a silly little thing!—that that will never be!”

“Don’t say so, Dora! Dearest love, don’t think so!”

“I won’t, if I can help it, Doady. But I am very happy; though my dear boy is so lonely by himself, before his child-wife’s empty chair!”

It is night; and I am with her still. Agnes has arrived; has been among us, for a whole day and an evening. She, my aunt, and I have sat with Dora since the morning, all together. We have not talked much, but Dora has been perfectly contented and cheerful. We are now alone.

Do I know, now, that my child-wife will soon leave me? They have told me so; they have told me nothing new to my thoughts; but I am far from sure that I have taken that truth to heart. I cannot master it. I have withdrawn by myself, many times to-day, to weep. I have remembered Who wept for a parting between the living and the dead. I have bethought me of all that gracious and compassionate history. I have tried to resign myself, and to console myself; and that, I hope, I may have done imperfectly; but what I cannot firmly settle in my mind is, that the end will absolutely come. I hold her hand in mine, I hold her heart in mine, I see her love for me, alive in all its strength. I cannot shut out a pale lingering shadow of belief that she will be spared.

“I am going to speak to you, Doady. I am going to say something I have often thought of saying, lately. You won’t mind?” with a gentle look.

“Mind, my darling?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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