Morton was failing fast. The shadow of the coming tragedy had fallen on the house. Before the New Year had arrived, the elder Morton lay dead in the stilled solemn room. The man who had been such a power in the world had no longer any power. Henceforth the forces of nature which he had conquered would deal with him in their own silent, resistless and inevitable fashion.
John took his heartbroken mother and sister South, away from the place where they had known joy and experienced sorrow. They recovered somewhat their interest in life amid the richer scenes and more vivid life of the sun-bathed lands. It was here that he spoke, for the first time, to his mother of his feelings for a girl he had met in Europe. She said very little, because she knew it would be of no use; and she also knew that she could trust his taste. She saw that it was very near to his heart, and urged him to go back. If, she said, he felt