''I wonder, did father hear anything. It -- the bird, you know, Patty -- might have flown at his window, too?'
''Oh, Mistress Dorothy!' Patty would not be deceived. I gave her the brush to finish my hair, but her hand shook too much. I shut the window, and we both sat down facing it.
'At that minute, distinct, clear, and unmistakable, like a person giving a summons in passing by, we heard once more the tapping on the pane. But nothing was seen; not a single shadow came between us and the open air, the bright starlight.
'Startled I was, and awed, but I was not frightened. The sound gave me even an inexplicable delight. But I had hardly time to recognize my feelings, still less to analyse them, when a loud cry came from my father's room.
''Dolly, -- Dolly!'
'Now my mother and I had both one name, but he always gave her the old-fashioned pet name -- I was invariably Dorothy. Still I did not pause to think, but ran to his locked door, and answered.
'It was a long time before he took any notice, though I heard him talking to himself, and moaning. He was subject to bad dreams, especially before his attacks of gout. So my first alarm lightened. I stood listening, knocking at intervals, until at last he replied.
''What do'ee want, child?'
''Is anything the matter, father?'
''Nothing. Go to thy bed, Dorothy.'
''Did you not call? Do you want any one?'
''Not thee. 0 Dolly, my poor Dolly,' -- and he seemed to be almost sobbing, 'Why did I let thee leave me!'
''Father, you are not going to be ill? It is not the gout, is it?' (for that was the time when he wanted my mother most, and indeed, when he was wholly unmanageable by any one but her.)
''Go away. Get to thy bed, girl; I don't want 'ee.'
'I thought he was angry with me for having been in some sort the cause of our delay, and retired very miserable. Patty and I sat up a good while longer, discussing the dreary prospect of my father's having a fit of the gout here in London lodgings, with only us to nurse him, and my mother away. Our alarm was so great that we quite forgot the curious circumstance which had first attracted us, till Patty spoke up, from her bed on the floor.
''I hope master beant going to be very ill, and that -- you know -- came for a warning. Do 'ee think it was a bird, Mistress Dorothy?'
''Very likely. Now, Patty, let us go to sleep.'
'But I did not, for all night I heard my father groaning at intervals. I was certain it was the gout, and wished from the bottom of my heart that we had gone home with mother.
'What was my surprise when, quite early, I heard him rise and go down, just as if nothing was ailing him! I found him sitting at the breakfast-table in his travelling coat, looking very haggard and miserable, but evidently bent on a journey.
''Father, you are not going to Bath?'
''Yes, I be.'
''Not till the evening coach starts,' I cried, alarmed. 'We can't, you know?'
''I'll take a post-chaise, then. We must be off in an hour.'
'An hour! The cruel pain of parting -- (my dear, I believe I used to feel things keenly when I was young) -- shot through me -- through and through. A single hour, and I should have said goodbye to Edmond -- one of those heart-breaking farewells when we seem to leave half of our poor young life behind us, forgetting that the only real parting is when there is no love left to part from. A few years, and I wondered how I could have crept away and wept in such intolerable agony at the mere bidding goodbye to Edmond -- Edmond, who loved me.
'Every minute seemed a day till he came in, as usual, to breakfast. My red eyes and my father's corded trunk explained all.
''Doctor Thwaite, you are not going?'
''Yes, I be,' repeated my father. He sat moodily leaning on the table -- would not taste his breakfast.