Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/293

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287
THE THREEFOLD DESTINY.

child rolled from a doorway, and lay laughing, almost beneath Cranfield's feet. The dark and stately man stooped down, and, lifting the infant, restored him to his mother's arms. 'The children,' said he to himself—and sighed, and smiled—'the children are to be my charge!' And while a flow of natural feeling gushed like a well-spring in his heart, he came to a dwelling which he could nowise forbear to enter. A sweet voice, which seemed to come from a deep and tender soul, was warbling a plaintive little air, within.

He bent his head, and passed through the lowly door. As his foot sounded upon the threshold, a young woman advanced from the dusky interior of the house, at first hastily, and then with a more uncertain step, till they met face to face. There was a singular contrast in their two figures; he dark and picturesque—one who had battled with the world—whom all suns had shone upon, and whom all winds had blown on a varied course; she neat, comely, and quiet—quiet even in her agitation—as if all her emotions had been subdued to the peaceful tenor of her life. Yet their faces, all unlike as they were, had an expression that seemed not so alien—a glow of kindred feeling, flashing upward anew from half-extinguished embers.

'You are welcome home!' said Faith Egerton.

But Cranfield did not immediately answer; for his eye had been caught by an ornament in the shape of a Heart, which Faith wore as a brooch upon her bosom. The material was the ordinary white quartz; and he recollected having himself shaped it out of one of those Indian arrow-heads, which are so often found in the ancient haunts of the red men. It was