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I told my mother, she sat down, quite faint, for a minute. I remember, a few days after, I saw the poor, withered cowslip-flowers thrown out to the leaf-heap, to decay and die there. There was no making of cowslip-wine that year at the Rectory-nor, indeed, ever after.
“Presently, my mother went to my father I know I thought of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus ; for my mother was very pretty and delicate-looking, and my father looked as terrible as King Ahasuerus. Some time after, they came out together; and then my mother told me what had happened, and that she was going up to Peter's room, at my father's desire —though she was not to tell Peter this—to talk the matter over with him. But no Peter was there. We looked over the house ; no Peter was there! Even my father, who had not liked to join in the search at first, helped us before long. The Rectory was a very old house: steps up into a room, steps down into a room, all through. At first, my mother went calling low and soft—as if to reassure the poor boy
Peter! Peter, dear! it's only me ;' but, by-andby, as the servants came back from the errands my father had sent them, in different directions, to find where Peter was—as we found he was not in the garden, nor the hayloft, nor any where about—my niother's cry grew. louder and wilder—' Peter! Peter, my darling! where are you ?' for then she felt and understood that that long kiss meant some sad kind of 'goodby. The afternoon went on—my mother never resting, but seeking again and again in every possible place that had been looked into twenty times before; nay, that she had looked into over and over again herself. My father sat with his head in his hands, not speaking, except when his messengers came in, bringing no tidings; then he lifted up his face so strong and sad, and told them to go again in some new direction. My mother kept passing from room to room, in and out of the house, moving noiselessly, but never ceasing. Neither she nor my father durst leave the house, which was the ineeting-place for all the messengers. At last (and it was nearly dark), my father rose up. He took hold of my mother's arm, as she came with wild, sad pace, through one door, and quickly toward another. She started at the touch of his hand, for she had forgotten all in the world but Peter.
666 Molly ! said he, • I did not think all this would happen.' He looked into her face for comfort-her poor face, all wild and white; for neither she nor my father had dared to acknow). edge-much less act upon—the terror that was in their hearts, lest Peter should have made away with himself. My father saw no con. scious look in his wife's hot, dreary eyes, and he missed the sympathy that she had always been ready to give him-strong man as he was; and at the dumb despair in her face, his tears began to flow. But when she saw this, a gentle sorrow came over her countenance, and she said, "Dearest John! don't cry; come with me, and we'll find him,' almost as cheerfully as if she knew where he was. And she took my father's great hand in her little soft one, and led him along, the tears dropping, as he walked on that same unceasing, weary walk, from room to room, through house and garden.
“Oh! how I wished for Deborah! I had no time for crying, for now all seemed to depend on me. I wrote for Deborah to come home. I sent a message privately to that same Mr. Holbrook's house-poor Mr. Holbrook -you know who I mean. I don't mean I sent a message to him, but I sent one that I could trust, to know if Peter was at his house. For at one time Mr. Holbrook was an occasional visitor at the Rectory—you know he was Miss Pole's cousin—and he had been very kind to Peter, and taught him how to fish-he was very kind to every body, and I thought Peter might have gone off there. But Mr. Holbrook was from home, and Peter had never been seen. It was night now; but the doors were all wide open, and my father and mother walked on and on; it was more than an hour since he had joined her, and I don't believe they had ever spoken all that time. I was getting the parlor fire lighted, and one of the servants was preparing tea, for I wanted them to have something to eat and drink and warm them, when old Clare asked to speak to me.
66. I have borrowed the nets from the weir, Miss Matty. Shall we drag the ponds to-night, or wait for the morning ?
“I remember staring in his face to gather his meaning; and when I did, I laughed out loud. The horror of that new thought-our bright, darling Peter, cold, and stark, and dead! I remember the ring of my own laugh now.
- The next day Deborah was at home before I was myself again. She would not have been 80 weak to give way as I had done ; but my screams (my horrible laughter had ended in crying) had roused my sweet dear mother, whose poor wandering wits were called back and collected, as soon as a child needed her oare. She and Deborah sat by my bedside ; I
knew by the looks of each that there had been no news of Peter- no awful, ghastly news, which was what I most had dreaded in my dull state between sleeping and waking.
“ The same result of all the searching had brought something of the same relief to my mother, to whom I am sure the thought that Peter might oven then be hanging dead in some of the familiar home-places, had caused that never-ending walk of yesterday. Her soft eyes never were the same again after that ; they had always a restless craving look, as if seeking for what they could not find. Oh! it was an awful time; coming down like a thunder-bolt on the still sunny day, when the lilacs were all in bloom.”
" Where was Mr. Peter ?” said I.
“ He had made his way to Liverpool; and there was war then; and some of the king's ships lay off the mouth of the Mersey; and they were only too glad to have a fine likely boy such as him (five foot nine he was) come to offer himself. The captain wrote to my father, and Peter wrote to my mother. Stay ! those letters will be somewhere here."
We lighted the candle, and found the captain's letter, and Peter's too. And we also found a little simple begging letter from Mon