"My child! What of my child?"
"Your child and Edith's," said Mr. Dinneford. "Come!" and he drew his arm within that of Granger, the two men moving away together. "It has been lost since the day of its birth--cast adrift through the same malign influence that cursed your life and Edith's. We are on its track, but baffled day by day. Oh, George, we want you, frightfully wronged as you have been at our hands--not Edith's. Oh no, George! Edith's heart has never turned from you for an instant, never doubted you, though in her weakness and despair she was driven to sign that fatal application for a divorce. If it were not for the fear of a scornful rejection, she would be reaching out her hands to you now and begging for the old sweet love, but such a rejection would kill her, and she dare not brave the risk."
Mr. Dinneford felt the young man's arm begin to tremble violently.
"We want you, George," he pursued. "Edith's heart is calling out for you, that she may lean it upon your heart, so that it break not in this great trial and suspense. Your lost baby is calling for you out of some garret or cellar or hovel where it lies concealed. Come, my son. The gulf that lies between the dreadful past and the blessed future can be leaped at a single bound if you choose to make it. We want you--Edith and I and your baby want you."
Mr. Dinneford, in his great excitement, was hurrying the young man along at a rapid speed, holding on to his arm at the same time, as if afraid he would pull it away and escape.
Granger made no response, but moved along pa.s.sively, taking in every word that was said. A great light seemed to break upon his soul, a great mountain to be lifted off. He did not pause at the door from which, when he last stood there, he had been so cruelly rejected, but went in, almost holding his breath, bewildered, uncertain, but half realizing the truth of what was transpiring, like one in a dream.
"Wait here," said Mr. Dinneford, and he left him in the parlor and ran up stairs to find Edith.
George Granger had scarcely time to recognize the objects around him, when a carriage stopped at the door, and in a moment afterward the bell rang violently.
The image that next met his eyes was that of Edith standing in the parlor door with a child all bundled up in bed-clothing held closely in her arms. Her face was trembling with excitement. He started forward on seeing her with an impulse of love and joy that he could not restrain.
She saw him, and reading his soul in his eyes, moved to meet him.
"Oh, George, and you too!" she exclaimed. "My baby and my husband, all at once! It is too much. I cannot bear if all!"
Granger caught her in his arms as she threw herself upon him and laid the child against his breast.
"Yours and mine," she sobbed. "Yours and mine, George!" and she put up her face to his. Could he do less than cover it with kisses?
A few hours later, and a small group of very near friends witnessed a different scene from this. Not another tragedy as might well be feared, under the swift reactions that came upon Edith. No, no! She did not die from a excess of joy, but was filled with new life and strength. Two hands broken asunder so violently a few years ago were now clasped again, and the minister of G.o.d as he laid them together p.r.o.nounced in trembling tones the marriage benediction.
This was the scene, and here we drop the curtain.
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