Molly Gibson's Worth is discovered

Mr. Gibson came in rubbing his hands after his frosty ride. Molly judged from the look in his eye, that he had been fully informed of the present state of things at the Hall by some one. But he simply went up to and greeted the Squire, and waited to hear what was said to him. The Squire was fumbling at the taper on the writing-table; and, before he answered much, he lighted it and, signing to his friend to follow him, went softly to the sofa and showed him the sleeping child, taking the utmost care not to arouse it by flare or sound.

“Well! this is a fine young gentleman,” said Mr. Gibson, returning to the fire rather sooner than the Squire expected. “And you’ve got the mother here, I understand. Mrs. Osborne Hamley, as we must call her, poor thing! It’s a sad coming home to her; for I hear she knew nothing of his death.” He spoke without exactly addressing any one, so that either Molly or the Squire might answer as they liked. The Squire said—

“Yes! She’s felt it a terrible shock. She’s upstairs in the best bedroom. I should like you to see her, Gibson, if she’ll let you. We must do our duty-by her, for my poor lad’s sake. I wish he could have seen his boy lying there; I do. I dare say it preyed on him to have to keep it all to himself. He might ha’ known me, though. He might ha’ known my bark was waur than my bite. It’s all over now, though; and God forgive me if I was too sharp! I’m punished now.”

Molly grew impatient on the mother’s behalf.

“Papa, I feel as if she was very ill; perhaps worse than we think. Will you go and see her at once?”

Mr. Gibson followed her upstairs, and the Squire came too, thinking that he would do his duty now, and even feeling some self-satisfaction at conquering his desire to stay with the child. They went into the room where she had been taken. She lay quite still, in the same position as at first. Her eyes were open and tearless, fixed on the wall. Mr. Gibson spoke to her, but she did not answer; he lifted her hand to feel her pulse; she never noticed.

“Bring me some wine at once, and order some beef-tea,” he said to Molly.

But when he tried to put the wine into her mouth, as she lay there on her side, she made no effort to receive or swallow it, and it ran out upon the pillow. Mr. Gibson left the room abruptly; Molly chafed the little inanimate hand; the Squire stood by in dumb dismay, touched in spite of himself by the death-in-life of one so young, and who must have been so much beloved.

Mr. Gibson came back two steps at a time; he was carrying the half-awakened child in his arms. He did not scruple to rouse him into yet further wakefulness—did not grieve to hear him begin to wail and cry. His eyes were on the figure upon the bed, which at that sound quivered all through; and, when her child was laid at her back, and began caressingly to scramble yet closer, Aimée turned round, and took him in her arms, and lulled him and soothed him with the soft wont of mother’s love.

Before she lost this faint consciousness, which was habit or instinct rather than thought, Mr. Gibson spoke to her in French. The child’s one word of “maman” had given him this clue. It was the language sure to be most intelligible to her dulled brain; and, as it happened—only Mr. Gibson did not think of that—it was the language in which she had been commanded, and had learnt to obey.

Mr.Gibson’s tongue was a little stiff at first, but, by-and-by, he spoke it with more readiness. He extorted from her short answers at first, then longer ones, and from time to time he plied her with little drops of wine, until some further nourishment should be at hand. Molly was struck by her father’s low tones of comfort and sympathy, although she could not follow what was said quickly enough to catch the meaning of what passed.

By-and-by, however, when her father had done all that he could, and they were once more downstairs, he told them more about her journey than they yet knew. The hurry, the sense of acting in defiance of a

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