You speak to me, my friend, of what I cannot follow; my memory is gone."
"Merciful power!" cried the old man.
"I have lost my memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the Chemist, "and with that I have lost all man would remember!"
To see old Philip's pity for him, to see him wheel his own great chair for him to rest in, and look down upon him with a solemn sense of his bereavement, was to know, in some degree, how precious to old age such recollections are.
The boy came running in, and ran to Milly.
"Here's the man," he said, "in the other room. I don't want HIM."
"What man does he mean?" asked Mr. William.
"Hush!" said Milly.
Obedient to a sign from her, he and his old father softly withdrew. As they went out, unnoticed, Redlaw beckoned to the boy to come to him.
"I like the woman best," he answered, holding to her skirts.
"You are right," said Redlaw, with a faint smile. "But you needn't fear to come to me. I am gentler than I was. Of all the world, to you, poor child!"
The boy still held back at first, but yielding little by little to her urging, he consented to approach, and even to sit down at his feet. As Redlaw laid his hand upon the shoulder of the child, looking on him with compassion and a fellow-feeling, he put out his other hand to Milly. She stooped down on that side of him, so that she could look into his face, and after silence, said:
"Mr. Redlaw, may I speak to you?"
"Yes," he answered, fixing his eyes upon her. "Your voice and music are the same to me."
"May I ask you something?"
"What you will."
"Do you remember what I said, when I knocked at your door last night? About one who was your friend once, and who stood on the verge of destruction?"
"Yes. I remember," he said, with some hesitation.
"Do you understand it?"
He smoothed the boy's hair--looking at her fixedly the while, and shook his head.
"This person," said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which her mild eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer, "I found soon afterwards. I went back to the house, and, with Heaven's help, traced him. I was not too soon. A very little and I should have been too late."
He took his hand from the boy, and laying it on the back of that hand of hers, whose timid and yet earnest touch addressed him no less appealingly than her voice and eyes, looked more intently on her.
"He IS the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentleman we saw just now. His real name is Longford.--You recollect the name?"
"I recollect the name."
"And the man?"
"No, not the man. Did he ever wrong me?"
"Ah! Then it's hopeless--hopeless."
He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held, as though mutely asking her commiseration.
"I did not go to Mr. Edmund last night," said Milly,--"You will listen to me just the same as if you did remember all?"
"To every syllable you say."
"Both, because I did not know, then, that this really was his father, and because I was fearful of the effect of such intelligence upon him, after his illness, if it should be. Since I have known who this person is, I have not gone either; but that is for another reason.