Squire Hamley's Sorrow

It seemed very long before Mr. Gibson came down. He went and stood with his back to the empty fireplace, and did not speak for a minute or two.

“He’s gone to bed,” said he at length. “Robinson and I have got him there. But, just as I was leaving him, he called me back and asked me to let you stop. I’m sure I don’t know—but one doesn’t like to refuse at such a time.”

“I wish to stay,” said Molly.

“Do you? There’s a good girl. But how will you manage?”

“Oh, never mind that! I can manage. Papa”—she paused—“what did Osborne die of?” She asked the question in a low, awe-stricken voice.

“Something wrong about the heart. You wouldn’t understand if I told you. I apprehended it for some time; but it’s better not to talk of such things at home. When I saw him on Thursday week, he seemed better than I’ve seen him for a long time. I told Dr. Nicholls so. But one never can calculate in these complaints.”

“You saw him on Thursday week? Why, you never mentioned it!” said Molly.

“No. I don’t talk of my patients at home. Besides, I didn’t want him to consider me as his doctor, but as a friend. Any alarm about his own health would only have hastened the catastrophe.”

“Then, didn’t he know that he was ill—ill of a dangerous complaint, I mean: one that might end as it has done?”

“No; certainly not. He would only have been watching his symptoms—accelerating matters, in fact.”

“Oh, papa!” said Molly, shocked.

“I’ve no time to go into the question,” Mr. Gibson continued. “And, until you know what has to be said on both sides and in every instance, you are not qualified to judge. We must keep our attention on the duties in hand now. You sleep here for the remainder of the night, which is more than half-gone already?”


“Promise me to go to bed just as usual. You may not think it, but most likely you’ll go to sleep at once. People do at your age.”

“Papa, I think I ought to tell you something. I know a great secret of Osborne’s, which I promised solemnly not to tell; but the last time I saw him, I think he must have been afraid of something like this.” A fit of sobbing came upon her, which her father was afraid would end in hysterics. But suddenly she mastered herself, and looked up into his anxious face, and smiled to reassure him.

“I could not help it, papa!”

“No. I know. Go on with what you were saying. You ought to be in bed; but, if you’ve a secret on your mind, you won’t sleep.”

“Osborne was married,” said she, fixing her eyes on her father. “That is the secret.”

“Married! Nonsense! What makes you think so?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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