"How thankful and how happy I should feel, and do feel, for all this!"
While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and, after pausing for a moment to observe the group of which she was the centre, had silently ascended the stairs. Upon those stairs he now appeared again; remaining there, while the young student passed him, and came running down.
"Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures," he said, falling on his knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my cruel ingratitude!"
"Oh dear, oh dear!" cried Milly innocently, "here's another of them! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes me. What shall I ever do!"
The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in which she put her hands before her eyes and wept for very happiness, was as touching as it was delightful.
"I was not myself," he said. "I don't know what it was--it was some consequence of my disorder perhaps--I was mad. But I am so no longer. Almost as I speak, I am restored. I heard the children crying out your name, and the shade passed from me at the very sound of it. Oh, don't weep! Dear Milly, if you could read my heart, and only knew with what affection and what grateful homage it is glowing, you would not let me see you weep. It is such deep reproach."
"No, no," said Milly, "it's not that. It's not indeed. It's joy. It's wonder that you should think it necessary to ask me to forgive so little, and yet it's pleasure that you do."
"And will you come again? and will you finish the little curtain?"
"No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. "You won't care for my needlework now."
"Is it forgiving me, to say that?"
She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear.
"There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund."
"Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the change in your handwriting when you began to be better, created some suspicion of the truth; however that is--but you're sure you'll not be the worse for any news, if it's not bad news?"
"Then there's some one come!" said Milly.
"My mother?" asked the student, glancing round involuntarily towards Redlaw, who had come down from the stairs.
"Hush! No," said Milly.
"It can be no one else."
"Indeed?" said Milly, "are you sure?"
"It is not -" Before he could say more, she put her hand upon his mouth.
"Yes it is!" said Milly. "The young lady (she is very like the miniature, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too unhappy to rest without satisfying her doubts, and came up, last night, with a little servant-maid. As you always dated your letters from the college, she came there; and before I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning, I saw her. SHE likes me too!" said Milly. "Oh dear, that's another!"
"This morning! Where is she now?"
"Why, she is now," said Milly, advancing her lips to his ear, "in my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see you."
He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained him.
"Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning that his memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, Mr. Edmund; he needs that from us all."
The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution was not ill- bestowed; and as he passed the Chemist on his way out, bent respectfully and with an obvious interest before him.