There was thus a good deal of conjecture and of contradictory opinion abroad in Riversborough concerning Roland Sefton, which continued to be the town's-talk for some weeks. Even Madame began to believe in a half-bewildered manner that her son had gone on a journey of business connected with the bank, though she could not account for his total silence.
All he could do was so little, that he did it without hope in the results. If possible, Ann Holland was yet more troubled than he was. By and by it became common town's-talk, and many a neighbor visited her with the purpose of gossiping about poor Mrs, Chantrey. But they found her averse to dwell upon the subject, as if gossip had suddenly grown distasteful to her.
"It's the town's-talk," answered Ann Holland, bursting into tears; "everybody knows it. Oh! Mrs. Bolton, if you can do anything to help her, now is the time to do it. It will get too hard to be rooted up by and by. I know that by my poor brother. He'll never leave it off till he's on his deathbed and can't get it.