"Tea is ready," said Cousin Janet. "Let us go in to it, and then have prayers, and all go to bed early. Why Cousin Weston, you are getting quite dissipated in your old age; coming home to tea at this hour; I suppose I shall begin such practices next."
Miss Janet's suggestion of retiring early, was followed. Phillis came in to see how Alice's head was, and recommended brown paper and vinegar. She made no comment on her appearance, but did not wonder that Lydia was struck with the expression of her countenance. There was an uneasiness that was foreign to it; not merely had the glow of health departed, there was something in its place, strange there. It was like the storm passing over the beautiful lake; the outline of rock, and tree, and surface, is to be seen, but its tranquil beauty is gone; and darkness and gloom are resting where has been the home of light, and love, and beauty.
Alice undressed and went to bed; her mother raised all the windows, put out the candle, and laid down beside her. Hoping that she would fall asleep, she did not converse, but Alice after a few minutes, called her.
"What is it, Alice?"
"Did you hear what Cousin Janet said to Lydia, to-night, mother? God hates those who deceive."
"Why think of that now, my love?"
"Because it refers to me. She did not mean it for me, but it came home to my heart."
"To your heart? That has always been truth and candor itself. Try and banish such thoughts. If you were well, fancies like these would not affect you."
"They are not fancies, they are realities," said Alice. She sighed and continued, "Am I not deceiving the kind protector and friend of my childhood? Oh, mother, if he knew all, how little would he love me! And Arthur, can it be right for me to be engaged to him, and to deceive him, too?"