From the general tone of the letters, Molly doubted if the mother would consent, so easily as the Squire seemed to expect, to be parted from her child. They were not very wise, perhaps (though of this Molly never thought), but a heart full of love spoke tender words in every line. Still, it was not for Molly to talk of this doubt of hers just then; but rather to dwell on the probable graces and charms of the little Roger Stephen Osborne Hamley. She let the Squire exhaust himself in wondering as to the particulars of every event, helping him out in conjectures; and both of them, from their imperfect knowledge of possibilities, made the most curious, fantastic, and improbable guesses at the truth. And so that day passed over, and the night came.

There were not many people who had any claim to be invited to the funeral, and of these Mr. Gibson and the Squire’s hereditary man of business had taken charge. But when Mr. Gibson came, early on the following morning, Molly referred the question to him, which had suggested itself to her mind, though apparently not to the Squire’s, what intimation of her loss should be sent to the widow, living solitarily near Winchester, watching and waiting, if not for his coming who lay dead in his distant home, at least for his letters. One from her had already come, in her foreign handwriting, to the post-office to which all her communications were usually sent; but of course they at the Hall knew nothing of this.

“She must be told,” said Mr. Gibson, musing.

“Yes, she must,” replied his daughter. “But how?”

“A day or two of waiting will do no harm,” said he, almost as if he were anxious to delay the solution of the problem. “It will make her anxious, poor thing, and all sorts of gloomy possibilities will suggest themselves to her mind—amongst them the truth; it will be a kind of preparation.”

“For what? Something must be done at last,” said Molly.

“Yes; true. Suppose you write, and say he’s very ill; write to-morrow. I daresay they’ve indulged themselves in daily postage, and then she’ll have had three days’ silence. Say how you come to know all you do about it; I think she ought to know he is very ill—in great danger, if you like; and you can follow it up next day with the full truth. I wouldn’t worry the Squire about it. After the funeral we will have a talk about the child.”

“She will never part with it,” said Molly.

“Whew! Till I see the woman, I can’t tell,” said her father; “some women would. It will be well provided for, according to what you say. And she’s a foreigner, and may very likely wish to go back to her own people and kindred. There’s much to be said on both sides.”

“So you always say, papa! But, in this case, I think you’ll find I’m right. I judge from her letters; but I think I’m right.”

“So you always say, daughter! Time will show. So the child is a boy? Mrs. Gibson told me particularly to ask. It will go far to reconciling her to Cynthia’s dismissal of Roger. But, indeed, it is quite as well for both of them, though of course he will be a long time before he thinks so. They were not suited to each other. Poor Roger! It was hard work writing to him yesterday; and who knows what may have become of him! Well, well! one has to get through the world somehow. I’m glad, however, this little lad has turned up to be the heir. I shouldn’t have liked the property to go to the Irish Hamleys, who are the next heirs, as Osborne once told me. Now write that letter, Molly, to the poor little Frenchwoman out yonder. It will prepare her for it; and we must think a bit how to spare her the shock, for Osborne’s sake.”

The writing this letter was rather difficult work for Molly, and she tore up two or three copies before she could manage it to her satisfaction; and at last, in despair of ever doing it better, she sent it off without re-reading it. The next day was easier; the fact of Osborne’s death was told briefly and tenderly. But, when this second letter was sent off, Molly’s heart began to bleed for the poor creature, bereft of her

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