"Who is that, Dame Durden?" Richard asked me. The door was behind him, but he had observed in my face that some one was there.
I looked to Allan for advice, and as he nodded "Yes," bent over Richard and told him. My guardian saw what passed, came softly by me in a moment, and laid his hand on Richard's. "Oh, sir," said Richard, "you are a good man, you are a good man!" and burst into tears for the first time.
My guardian, the picture of a good man, sat down in my place, keeping his hand on Richard's.
"My dear Rick," said he, "the clouds have cleared away, and it is bright now. We can see now. We were all bewildered, Rick, more or less. What matters! And how are you, my dear boy?"
"I am very weak, sir, but I hope I shall be stronger. I have to begin the world."
"Aye, truly; well said!" cried my guardian.
"I will not begin it in the old way now," said Richard with a sad smile. "I have learned a lesson now, sir. It was a hard one, but you shall be assured, indeed, that I have learned it."
"Well, well," said my guardian, comforting him; "well, well, well, dear boy!"
"I was thinking, sir," resumed Richard, "that there is nothing on earth I should so much like to see as their house--Dame Durden's and Woodcourt's house. If I could be removed there when I begin to recover my strength, I feel as if I should get well there sooner than anywhere."
"Why, so have I been thinking too, Rick," said my guardian, "and our little woman likewise; she and I have been talking of it this very day. I dare say her husband won't object. What do you think?"
Richard smiled and lifted up his arm to touch him as he stood behind the head of the couch.
"I say nothing of Ada," said Richard, "but I think of her, and have thought of her very much. Look at her! See her here, sir, bending over this pillow when she has so much need to rest upon it herself, my dear love, my poor girl!"
He clasped her in his arms, and none of us spoke. He gradually released her, and she looked upon us, and looked up to heaven, and moved her lips.
"When I get down to Bleak House," said Richard, "I shall have much to tell you, sir, and you will have much to show me. You will go, won't you?"
"Undoubtedly, dear Rick."
"Thank you; like you, like you," said Richard. "But it's all like you. They have been telling me how you planned it and how you remembered all Esther's familiar tastes and ways. It will be like coming to the old Bleak House again."
"And you will come there too, I hope, Rick. I am a solitary man now, you know, and it will be a charity to come to me. A charity to come to me, my love!" he repeated to Ada as he gently passed his hand over her golden hair and put a lock of it to his lips. (I think he vowed within himself to cherish her if she were left alone.)
"It was a troubled dream?" said Richard, clasping both my guardian's hands eagerly.
"Nothing more, Rick; nothing more."
"And you, being a good man, can pass it as such, and forgive and pity the dreamer, and be lenient and encouraging when he wakes?"
"Indeed I can. What am I but another dreamer, Rick?"
"I will begin the world!" said Richard with a light in his eyes.
My husband drew a little nearer towards Ada, and I saw him solemnly lift up his hand to warn my guardian.
"When shall I go from this place to that pleasant country where the old times are, where I shall have strength to tell what Ada has been to me, where I shall be able to recall my many faults and blindnesses, where I shall prepare myself to be a guide to my unborn child?" said Richard. "When shall I go?"
"Dear Rick, when you are strong enough," returned my guardian.
"Ada, my darling!"
He sought to raise himself a little. Allan raised him so that she could hold him on her bosom, which was what he wanted.
"I have done you many wrongs, my own. I have fallen like a poor stray shadow on your way, I have married you to poverty and trouble, I have scattered your means to the winds. You will forgive me all this, my Ada, before I begin the world?"
A smile irradiated his face as she bent to kiss him.