And as, after all, they knew little to Mr. Hardie's disadvantage, except what had come out of "the Wretch's" mouth, and as moreover their hearts were softened towards the father by his bereavement, and their sight of his misery, and also by his grateful words, they quite acquitted him of having robbed them, and felt sure the fourteen thousand pounds was at the bottom of the sea.
They were a little surprised that Mr. Hardie never spoke nor wrote to them again; but being high-minded and sweet tempered, they set it down to all-absorbing grief, and would not feel sore about it.
And now they must leave the little villa where they had been so happy and so unhappy.
The scanty furniture went first; Mrs. Dodd followed, and arranged it in their apartments. Julia would stay behind to comfort Edward, inconsolable herself. The auction came off. Most of the things went for cruelly little money compared to their value: and with the balance the sad young pair came up to London, and were clasped in their mother's arms. The tears were in her tender eyes. "It is a poor place to receive my treasures," she said: Edward looked round astonished: "It was a poor place," said he, "but you have made a little palace of it, somehow or another."
"My children's love can alone do that," replied Mrs. Dodd, kissing them both again.
Next day they consulted together how they were to live. Edward wished to try and get his father into a public asylum; then his mother would have a balance to live upon out of her income. But Mrs. Dodd rejected this proposal with astonishment. In vain Edward cited the _'Tiser_ that public asylums are patterns of comfort, and cure twice as many patients as the private ones do. She was deaf alike to the _'Tiser_ and to statistics. "Do not argue me out of my common sense," said she. "My husband, your father, in a public asylum, where anybody can go and stare at my darling!"
She then informed them she had written to her Aunt Bazalgette and her Uncle Fountain, and invited them to contribute something towards David's maintenance.
Edward was almost angry at this. "Fancy asking favours of _them,_" said he.