When Ruth began to sit up (and the strange, new, delicious prospect of becoming a mother seemed to give her some mysterious source of strength, so that her recovery was rapid and swift from that time), Miss Benson brought her the letters and the bank-note.
"Do you recollect receiving this letter, Ruth?" asked she, with grave gentleness. Ruth changed colour, and took it and read it again without making any reply to Miss Benson. Then she sighed, and thought a while; and then took up and read the second note--the note which Mrs. Bellingham had sent to Mr. Benson in answer to his. After that she took up the bank-note and turned it round and round, but not as if she saw it. Miss Benson noticed that her fingers trembled sadly, and that her lips were quivering for some time before she spoke.
"If you please, Miss Benson, I should like to return this money."
"Why, my dear?"
"I have a strong feeling against taking it. While he," said she, deeply blushing, and letting her large white lids drop down and veil her eyes, "loved me, he gave me many things--my watch--oh, many things; and I took them from him gladly and thankfully, because he loved me--for I would have given him anything--and I thought of them as signs of love. But this money pains my heart. He has left off loving me, and has gone away. This money seems--oh, Miss Benson--it seems as if he could comfort me, for being forsaken, by money." And at that word the tears, so long kept back and repressed, forced their way like rain.
She checked herself, however, in the violence of her emotion, for she thought of her child.
"So, will you take the trouble of sending it back to Mrs. Bellingham?"
"That I will, my dear. I am glad of it, that I am! They don't deserve to have the power of giving: they don't deserve that you should take it."
Miss Benson went and enclosed it up there and then; simply writing these words in the envelope, "From Ruth Hilton."
"And now we wash our hands of these Bellinghams," said she triumphantly. But Ruth looked tearful and sad; not about returning the note, but from the conviction that the reason she had given for the ground of her determination was true--he no longer loved her.