"He declares he did not know when the trial was till a month after. And his father bears him out; says he was actually delirious, and his life in danger. I myself can testify that he was cut down just in this way when he heard the _Proserpine_ was lost, and you on board her. Why not give him credit for the same genuine distress at young Penfold's misfortune? Come, Helen, is it fair to afflict and punish this gentleman for the misfortune of another, whom he never speaks of but with affection and pity? He says that if you would marry him at once, he thinks he should feel strong enough to throw himself into the case with you, and would spare neither money nor labor to clear Robert Penfold; but, as it is, he says he feels so wretched, and so tortured with jealousy, that he can't co-operate warmly with you, though his conscience reproaches him every day. Poor young man! His is really a very hard case. For you promised him your hand before you ever saw Robert Penfold."
"I did," said Helen; "but I did not say when. Let me have one year to my good work, before I devote my whole life to Arthur."
"Well, it will be a year wasted. Why postpone your marriage for that?"
"Yes, but he chose to fancy young Wardlaw is his enemy. You might relax that, now he tells you he will co-operate with you as your husband. Now, Helen, tell the truth--is it a woman's work? Have you found it so? Will not Arthur do it better than you?"
Helen, weakened already by days of suffering, began to cry, and say, "What shall I do? what shall I do?"
"If you have any doubt, my dear," said Sir Edward, "then think of what I owe to these Wardlaws."
And with that he kissed her, and left her in tears; and, soon after, sent Arthur himself up to plead his own cause.
It was a fine summer afternoon; the long French casements, looking on the garden of the Square, were open, and the balmy air came in and wooed the beautiful girl's cheek, and just stirred her hair at times.