'Little occurred during the rest of my visit worthy of remark. Somehow or other I did not make much progress with L?titia. I believe I had begun to see into her character a little, and therefore did not get deeper in love as the days went on. I know I became less absorbed in her society, although I was still anxious to make myself agreeable to her -- or perhaps, more properly, to give her a favourable impression of me. I do not know whether she perceived any difference in my behaviour, but I remember that I began again to remark the pinched look of her nose, and to be a little annoyed with her for always putting aside my book. At the same time, I daresay I was provoking, for I never was given to tidiness myself.
'At length Christmas Day arrived. After breakfast, the squire, James, and the two girls arranged to walk to church. L?titia was not in the room at the moment. I excused myself on the ground of a headache, for I had had a bad night. When they left, I went up to my room, threw myself on the bed, and was soon fast asleep.
'How long I slept I do not know, but I woke again with that indescribable yet well-known sense of not being alone. The feeling was scarcely less terrible in the daylight than it had been in the darkness. With the same sudden effort as before, I sat up in the bed. There was the figure at the open bureau, in precisely the same position as on the former occasion. But I could not see it so distinctly. I rose as gently as I could, and approached it, after the first physical terror. I am not a coward. Just as I got near enough to see the account book open on the folding cover of the bureau, she started up, and, turning, revealed the face of L?titia. She blushed crimson.
' 'I beg your pardon, Mr. Heywood,' she said in great confusion; 'I thought you had gone to church with the rest.'
' 'I had lain down with a headache, and gone to sleep,' I replied. 'But, -- forgive me, Miss Hetheridge,' I added, for my mind was full of the dreadful coincidence, -- 'don't you think you would have been better at church than balancing your accounts on Christmas Day?'
' 'The better day the better deed,' she said, with a somewhat offended air, and turned to walk from the room.
' 'Excuse me, L?titia,' I resumed, very seriously, 'but I want to tell you something.'
'She looked conscious. It never crossed me, that perhaps she fancied I was going to make a confession. Far other things were then in my mind. For I thought how awful it was, if she too, like the ancestral ghost, should have to do an age-long penance of haunting that bureau and those horrid figures, and I had suddenly resolved to tell her the whole story. She listened with varying complexion and face half turned aside. When I had ended, which I fear I did with something of a personal appeal, she lifted her head and looked me in the face, with just a slight curl on her thin lip, and answered me. 'If I had wanted a sermon, Mr. Heywood, I should have gone to church for it. As for the ghost, I am sorry for you.' So saying she walked out of the room.
'The rest of the day I did not find very merry. I pleaded my headache as an excuse for going to bed early. How I hated the room now! Next morning, immediately after breakfast, I took my leave of Lewton Grange.'
'And lost a good wife, perhaps, for the sake of a ghost, uncle!' said Janet.
'If I lost a wife at all, it was a stingy one. I should have been ashamed of her all my life long.'
'Better than a spendthrift,' said Janet.
'How do you know that?' returned her uncle. 'All the difference I see is, that the extravagant ruins the rich, and the stingy robs the poor.'
'But perhaps she repented, uncle,' said Kate.
'I don't think she did, Katey. Look here.'
Uncle Cornelius drew from the breast pocket of his coat a black-edged letter.