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The tranquillity and peace belonging, of old, to that quiet ground
in my memory, pervaded it again. When dinner was done, Mr.
Wickfield taking no wine, and I desiring none, we went up-stairs;
where Agnes and her little charges sang and played, and worked.
After tea the children left us; and we three sat together, talking
of the bygone days.

'My part in them,' said Mr. Wickfield, shaking his white head, 'has
much matter for regret - for deep regret, and deep contrition,
Trotwood, you well know. But I would not cancel it, if it were in
my power.'

I could readily believe that, looking at the face beside him.

'I should cancel with it,' he pursued, 'such patience and devotion,
such fidelity, such a child's love, as I must not forget, no! even
to forget myself.'

'I understand you, sir,' I softly said. 'I hold it - I have always
held it - in veneration.'

'But no one knows, not even you,' he returned, 'how much she has
done, how much she has undergone, how hard she has striven. Dear

She had put her hand entreatingly on his arm, to stop him; and was
very, very pale.

'Well, well!' he said with a sigh, dismissing, as I then saw, some
trial she had borne, or was yet to bear, in connexion with what my
aunt had told me. 'Well! I have never told you, Trotwood, of her
mother. Has anyone?'

'Never, sir.'

'It's not much - though it was much to suffer. She married me in
opposition to her father's wish, and he renounced her. She prayed
him to forgive her, before my Agnes came into this world. He was
a very hard man, and her mother had long been dead. He repulsed
her. He broke her heart.'

Agnes leaned upon his shoulder, and stole her arm about his neck.

'She had an affectionate and gentle heart,' he said; 'and it was
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