Emily pointed to the manuscript. "At such a time as this?" she said.
Cecilia still held to her resolution. "Such a time as this is the right time," she answered. "It is now, when you most want to be comforted, that you ought to see him. Who can quiet your poor aching heart as _he_ can quiet it?" She impulsively snatched at the manuscript and threw it out of sight. "I can't bear to look at it," she said. "Emily! if I have done wrong, will you forgive me? I saw him this morning before I came here. I was afraid of what might happen--I refused to break the dreadful news to you, unless he was somewhere near us. Your good old servant knows where to go. Let me send her--"
Mrs. Ellmother herself opened the door, and stood doubtful on the threshold, hysterically sobbing and laughing at the same time. "I'm everything that's bad!" the good old creature burst out. "I've been listening--I've been lying--I said you wanted him. Turn me out of my situation, if you like. I've got him! Here he is!"
In another moment, Emily was in his arms--and they were alone. On his faithful breast the blessed relief of tears came to her at last: she burst out crying.
"Oh, Alban, can you forgive me?"
He gently raised her head, so that he could see her face.
"My love, let me look at you," he said. "I want to think again of the day when we parted in the garden at school. Do you remember the one conviction that sustained me? I told you, Emily, there was a time of fulfillment to come in our two lives; and I have never wholly lost the dear belief. My own darling, the time has come!"
The winter time had arrived. Alban was clearing his palette, after a hard day's work at the cottage. The servant announced that tea was ready, and that Miss Ladd was waiting to see him in the next room.