My Travels-And My Return
It was a long and gloomy night that gathered on me after the death of my wife. I did not expect to find any peace until the day I died. I went away from England, for I could no longer live in the little house where I had been so happy with Dora. Before I left, Traddles came to visit my aunt and me. He told us what Uriah Heep had done to repay the money he had stolen, and to put Mr. Wickfield's business in good order again. Traddles said:"Mr. Dick and I kept Uriah a prisoner in Canterbury, and we looked at all the books and records until we knew all of Uriah's tricks and forgeries. We have put the books in order again. If Mr. Wickfield wishes to retire from business now, he will be able to pay all his debts at no great trouble."
"I'm so glad," said Agnes, "that we shall not owe money to anyone."
"But," said Traddles, "there will be little money left for you and your father, I am afraid."
"I shall earn some money," said Agnes, happily enough. "I shall keep a school, and I am sure I shall be a successful teacher."
"I am glad to say," continued Traddles, "that Mr. Wickfield's health has greatly improved. He has been able to assist us in making some things clear, that we should have found very difficult indeed, if not hopeless, without him. Now, Miss Trotwood, that money of yours."
"Well, sir," sighed my aunt, "if it's gone, I can bear it; and if it's not gone, I shall be glad to get it back."
Traddles smiled happily.
"You'll get it back," he said; "every penny of it!"
You may imagine how pleased we all were to hear this.
"And what of Uriah?" asked my aunt. "Where is he now?"
"I don't know," replied Traddles. "He left here on one of the London coaches, and that's all that I can tell you."
"Let us hope," said Agnes quietly, "that he has learned his lesson, and will never harm anyone else."
I was glad that Agnes and her father were now freed from the villainy of Uriah Heep. I said good-bye to my friends, and set out on my lonely travels.
In the months that followed, I was sometimes so sad at heart that I believed that I should die. There were times when I thought that I would like to die at home, and turned back on my road. At other times, I passed on farther away, from city to city, seeking I know not what, and trying to leave I know not what behind. Always it seemed as if I were dreaming a sad and terrible dream from which I could not awaken.
I went into Switzerland, and came one day at sunset into a beautiful valley. It was so quiet and peaceful there that I lay down on the grass and looked at the high mountains with the evening sun shining on them. I had a letter from Agnes, which I had not yet read. I opened it and read her writing.
She was happy and busy, and was doing as well as she had hoped. That was all she told me of herself. The rest referred to me. She gave me no advice but only hoped that I would try to forget my grief.
I put the letter in my pocket, and sat thinking about myself as the golden sun upon the mountain tops grew pale and then passed from sight. It was foolish, I thought, to allow my sorrow to govern my life, and I decided that I must conquer it.
I stayed for a long time in that valley and started to write again. I wrote a novel and sent it to Traddles in London. He arranged for its publication, and because of this book I began to be famous as an author. For three more years I remained abroad, living in Switzerland and writing novels. Slowly my grief was calmed, and I remembered only the beauty and charm of my lost wife.