How Jack Hastings Sold His Mine
by Frances Fuller Victor
The passenger train from the East came thundering down the head of the Humboldt Valley, just as morning brightened over the earth—refreshing eyes wearied with yesterday's mountains and cañons, by a vision of green willows and ash trees, a stream that was not a torrent, and a stretch of grassy country.
Among the faces oftenest turned to the flitting views was that of a young, gracefully-formed, neatly-dressed, delicate-looking woman. The large brown eyes often returned from gazing at the landscape, to scan with seriousness some memoranda she held in her hand. "Arrive at Elko at eight o'clock
a. m." said the memorandum. Consulting a tiny watch, whose hands pointed to ten minutes of eight, the lady began making those little preparations which betoken the journey's end at hand.
"What a strange looking place it is!" she thought, as the motley collection of board shanties and canvas houses came in sight;—for the famous Chloride District had been discovered but a few months before, and the Pacific Railroad was only four weeks open. "I wish Jack had come to meet me! I'm sure I don't see how I am to find the stage agent to give him Jack's letter. What a number of people!"
This mental ejaculation was called forth by the sight of the long platform in front of the eating-house, crowded with a surging mass of humanity just issuing from the dining-room. They were the passengers of the eastward-bound train, ready to rush headlong for the cars when the momently-expected "All aboard!" should be shouted at them by the conductor. Into this crowd the freshly-arrived passengers of the westward-bound train were a moment after ejected—each eyeing the other with a natural and pardonable interest.
The brown-eyed, graceful young lady conducted herself in a very business-like manner—presenting the checks for her baggage; inquiring out the office of Wells, Fargo & Co., and handing in her letter, all in the briefest possible time. Having secured a seat in a coach to Chloride Hill, with the promise of the agent to call for her when the time for departure arrived, the lady repaired to the dining-room just in time to see her acquaintances of the train departing. Sitting down alone to a hastily-cooked and underdone repast, she was about finishing a cup of bitter black coffee with a little shudder of disgust, when a gentleman seated himself opposite her at table. The glance the stranger cast in her direction was rather a lingering one; then he ordered his breakfast and ate it. Meanwhile the lady retired to the ladies' sitting-room.
After an hour of waiting, one, two, three, coaches rolled past the door, and the lady began to fear she had been forgotten, when the polite agent appeared to notify "Mrs. Hastings" that "the stage was ready." This was Mrs. Alice Hastings, then—wife of Mr. Jack Hastings, of Deep Cañon, Chloride District. The agent thought Mr. Hastings had a very pretty wife, and expressed his opinion in his manner, as men will.
When, just before starting, there entered three of the roughest-looking men she had ever encountered, Mrs. Hastings began to fear that in his zeal to obey instructions, the agent had exceeded them, and in packing the first three coaches with first-comers, had left this one to catch up the fag end of travel. If the first impression, gained from sight, had made her shrink a little, what was her dismay when, at the end of ten minutes, one of her fellow-travelers—the only American of the three—produced a bottle of brandy, which, having offered it first to her, he passed to the bullet-headed Irishman and very shabby Jew: repeating the courtesy once in twenty minutes for several times.
Mrs. Hastings was a brave sort of woman, where courage was needful; and she now began to consider the case in hand with what coolness she could command. One hundred and thirty miles—eighteen or twenty hours of such companionship—with no chance of change or intermission; a wilderness country to travel over, and all the other coaches a long way ahead. The dainty denizen of a city home, shuddering inwardly, showed outwardly a serene countenance. Her American friend, with wicked black eyes and a jolly and reckless style of carrying himself, continued to offer brandy at short intervals.
"Best take some, Madame," said he; "this dust will choke you if you don't."
"Thanks," returned the lady, with her sweetest smile, "I could not drink brandy. I have wine in my traveling-basket, should I need it; but much prefer water."
At the next station, although hardly four minutes were lost in changing horses, the men procured for her a cup of water. Mrs. Hastings' thanks were frank and cordial. She even carefully opened a conversation about the country they were passing over, and contrived to get them to ask a question or two about herself. When they learned that she had come all the way from New York on the newly-opened railroad, their interest was at its height; and when they heard that she was going to join her husband in the Chloride District, their sympathy was thoroughly enlisted.
"Wonderful—such a journey! How she could be six days on the cars, and yet able to take such a stage-ride as this, is astonishing."
Such were the American's comments. The Jew thought of the waiting husband—for your Israelite is a man of domestic and family affections. "Her husband looking for her, and she behind time! How troubled he must be! Didn't
know how it was? Wasn't his wife gone away on a visit once, and didn't write; and he a running to the express office every morning and evening for a letter, and getting so anxious as to telegraph? Such an expense and loss of time!—and all because he felt so uneasy about his wife!"
The bullet-headed young Irishman said nothing. He was about half asleep from brandy and last night's travel; too stupid to know that his hat had flown out of the window, and was bowling along in the wind and dust half a mile behind—all the better for his head, which looked at a red heat now.
The lady had lifted the rude men up to her level, when directly they were ashamed of their brandy and other vices, and began to show instinctive traits of gentlemen. By the time they arrived at the dinner station, where half an hour was allowed for food and rest out of the eighteen or twenty, she had at least two humble servitors, who showed great concern for her comfort.
The day began to wane. They had traveled continuously over a long stretch of plain between two mountain ranges, over a country entirely uninhabited except by the stage company's employees, who kept the stations and tended the stock. This lone woman had seen but one other woman on the road. Plenty of teams—great "prairie schooners," loaded with every conceivable thing for supplying the wants of an isolated non-producing community, and drawn by ten or fourteen mules—had been passed through the day.
As night fell, Mrs. Hastings saw what she had never before seen or imagined—the camps of these teamsters by the roadside; horses and mules staked, or tied to the wagons; the men lying prone upon the earth, wrapped in blankets, their dust-blackened faces turned up to the frosty twinkling stars. Did people really live in that way?—how many superfluous things were there in a city!
The night was moonless and clear, and cold as at that altitude they always are. Sleep, from the roughness of the road, was impossible. Her companions dozed, and woke with exclamations when the heavy lurchings of the coach disturbed them too roughly. Mrs. Hastings never closed her eyes. When morning dawned, they were on the top of a range of mountains, like those that had been in sight all the day before. Down these heights they rattled away, and at four in the morning entered the streets of Chloride Hill—a city of board and canvas houses. Arrived at the stage office, the lady looked penetratingly into the crowd of men always waiting for the stages, but saw no face she recognized. Yes, one—and that the face of the gentleman who sat down opposite her at table in Elko.
"Permit me," he said; "I think you inquired for Mr. Hastings?"
"I did; he is my husband. I expected to find him here," she replied, feeling that sense of injury and desire to cry which tired women feel, jostled about in a crowd of men.
Leaving her a moment to say something to an employee of the office, the stranger returned immediately, saying to the man: "Take this lady to Mrs. Robb's boarding-house." Then to her: "I will inquire for your husband, and send him to you if he is in town. The hack does not go over to Deep Cañon for several hours yet. Meanwhile you had better take some rest. You must be greatly fatigued."
Fatigued! her head swam round and round; and she really was too much exhausted to feel as disappointed as she might at Jack's non-appearance. Much relieved by the prospect of a place to rest in, she followed the man summoned to escort her, and fifteen minutes after was sound asleep on a sofa of the boarding-house.
Three hours of sleep and a partial bath did much to restore tired nature's equilibrium; and, although her head still felt absurdly light, Mrs. Hastings enjoyed the really excellent breakfast provided for her, wondering how such delicacies ever got to Chloride Hill. Breakfast over, and no news of Jack, the time began to drag wearily. She was more than half inclined to be angry—only relenting when she remembered that she was two or three days behind time, and of course Jack could not know when to expect her. She had very full directions, and if she could not find her way to Deep Cañon she was a goose, that was all!
So she sent for the driver of the hack, told him to get her baggage from the express office; and started for Deep Cañon. Who should she find in the hack but her friend of the morning!
"I could not hear of your husband," said he; "but you are sure to find him at home."
Mrs. Hastings smiled faintly, and hoped she should. Then she gave her thoughts to the peculiar scenery of the country, and to the sharpness of the descent, as they whirled rapidly down the four miles of cañon at the bottom of which was the town of that name—another one of those places which had "come up as a flower" in a morning. She longed to ask about her husband and his "home"; but as there were several persons in the stage, she restrained her anxiety, and said never a word until they stopped before the door of a saloon where all the other passengers alighted. Then she told the driver she wanted to be taken to Mr. Hastings' house.
He didn't know where that was, he said, but would inquire.
Did he know Dr. Earle?
"That's him, ma'am;" pointing out her friend of the morning.
"How can I serve you?" he asked, raising his hat politely.
Mrs. Hastings blushed rosily, between vexation at Jack's invisibility and confusion at being so suddenly confronted with Dr. Earle.
"Mr. Hastings instructed me to inquire of you, if I had any difficulty in finding him," she said, apologetically.
"I will show you his place with pleasure," returned the Doctor pleasantly; and, jumping on the box, proceeded to direct the driver.
Had ladies of Mrs. Hastings' style been as plenty in Deep Cañon as in New York, the driver would have grumbled at the no road he had to follow along the stony side of a hill and among the stumps of mahogany trees. But there were few like her in that mountain town, and his chivalry compelled him to go out of his way with every appearance of cheerfulness. Presently the stage stopped where the sloping ground made it very uncertain how long it could maintain its balance in that position; and the voice of Dr. Earle was heard saying "This is the place."
Mrs. Hastings, who had been looking out for some sign of home, was seized with a doubt of the credibility of her senses. It was on the tip of her tongue to say "This must be the house of some other Mr. Hastings," when she remembered prudence, and said nothing. Getting out and going toward the house to inquire, the door opened, and a man in a rough mining suit came quickly forward to meet her.
Dr. Earle and the driver studiously looked the other way while salutations were exchanged between Mr. and Mrs. Hastings. When they again ventured a look, the lady had disappeared within the cabin, the first glimpse of which had so dismayed her.
That afternoon, Jack initiated Alice into the mysteries of cooking by an open fire, and expatiated largely on the merits of his outside kitchen. Alice hinted to him that she was accustomed to sleep on something softer than a board, and the two went together to a store to purchase materials out of which to make a mattress.
After that, for two or three weeks, Mrs. Hastings was industriously engaged in wondering what her husband meant when he wrote that he had built a house, and was getting things ready to receive her. Reason or romance as she might, she could not make that single room of rough boards, roofed with leaky canvas and unfurnished with a single comfort of life, into a house or home. At last, Jack seemed to guess her thoughts, for she never spoke them.
"If I could sell my mine," he then often said, "I could fix things up."
"If you sold your mine, Jack, you would go back to New York, and then there would be no need of fixing up this place." Alice wanted to say "horrid" place, but refrained.
At length, from uncongenial air, water, food, and circumstances in general, the transplanted flower began to droop. The great heat and rarified mountain air caused frantic headaches, aggravated by the glare which came through the white canvas roof. Then came the sudden mountain tempests, when the rain deluged everything, and it was hard to find a spot to stand in where the water did not drip through. She grew wild, looking forever at bare mountain sides simmering in the sun by day, and at night over their tops up to the piercing stars. A constant anxious fever burnt in her blood, that the cold night air could not quench, though she often left her couch to let it blow chilly over her, in her loose night robes. Then she fell really ill.
Sitting by her bedside, Jack said: "If I could sell my mine!" And she had answered, "let the mine go, Jack, and let us go home. Nothing is gained by stopping in this dreadful place."
Then Mr. Hastings had replied to her, "I have no money, Alice, to go home with, not a cent. I borrowed ten dollars of Earle to-day to buy some fruit for you."
That was the last straw that broke the camel's back. By night Mrs. Hastings was delirious, and Dr. Earle was called.
"She has a nervous fever," he said, "and needs the carefullest nursing."
"Which she cannot have in this d——d place," Mr. Hastings replied, profanely.
"Why don't you try to get something to do?" asked Earle of the sad-visaged husband, a day or two after.
"What is there to do? Everything is flat; there is neither business nor money in this cursed country. I've stayed here trying to sell my mine, until I'm dead broke; nothing to live on here, and nothing to get out with. What I'm to do with my wife there, I don't know. Let her die, perhaps, and throw her bones up that ravine to bleach in the sun. God! what a position to be in!"
"But you certainly must propose to do something, and that speedily. Couldn't you see it was half that that brought this illness on your wife; the inevitable which she saw closing down upon you?"
"If I cannot sell my mine soon, I'll blow out my brains, as that poor German did last week. Alice heard the report of the shot which killed him, and I think it hastened on her sickness."
"And so you propose to treat her to another such scene, and put an end to her?" said Earle, savagely.
"Better so than to let her starve," Jack returned, growing pale with the burden of possibilities which oppressed him. "How the devil I am to save her from that last, I don't know. There is neither business, money, nor credit in this infernal town. I've been everywhere in this district, asking for a situation at something, and cannot get anything better than digging ground on the new road."
"Even that might be better than starving," said Dr. Earle.
Jack was a faithful nurse; Dr. Earle an attentive physician; young people with elastic constitutions die hard: so Alice began to mend, and in a fortnight was convalescent. Jack got a situation in a quartz mill where the Doctor was part owner.
Left all day alone in the cabin, Alice began staring again at the dreary mountains whose walls inclosed her on every side. The bright scarlet and yellow flowers which grew out of their parched soil sometimes tempted her to a brief walk; but the lightness of the air fatigued her, and she did not care to clamber after them.
One day, being lonely, she thought to please Jack by dressing in something pretty and going to the mill to see him. So, laying aside the wrapper which she had worn almost constantly lately, she robed herself in a delicate linen lawn, donned a coquettish little hat and parasol, and set out for the mill, a mile away. Something in the thought of the pleasant surprise it would be to Jack gave her strength and animation; and though she arrived somewhat out of breath, she looked as dainty and fresh as a rose, and Jack was immensely proud and flattered. He introduced her to the head of the firm, showed her over the mill, pointed out to her the mule-train packing wood for the engine fires, got the amalgamator to give her specimens, and in every way showed his delight.
After an hour or so she thought about going home; but the walk home looked in prospect very much longer than the walk to the mill. In truth, it was harder by reason of being up-hill. But opportunely, as it seemed, just as Jack was seeing her off the door-stone of the office, Dr. Earle drove up, and, comprehending the situation, offered to take Mrs. Hastings to her own door in his carriage, if she would graciously allow him five minutes to see the head man in.
When they were seated in the carriage, a rare luxury in Deep Cañon; and had driven a half mile in embarrassed silence—for Mrs. Hastings somehow felt ashamed of her husband's dependence upon this man,—the Doctor spoke, and what he said was this:
"Your life is very uncongenial to you; you wish to escape from it, don't you?"
"Yes, I wish to escape; that is the word which suits my feeling—a very strange feeling it is."
"Describe it," said the Doctor, almost eagerly.
"Ever since I left the railroad, in the midst of a wilderness and was borne for so many hours away into the heart of a still more desert wilderness, my consciousness of things has been very much confused. I can only with difficulty realize that there is any such place as New York; and San Francisco is a fable. The world seems a great bare mountain plane; and I am hanging on to its edge by my fingertips, ready to drop away into space. Can you account for such impressions?"
"Easily, if I chose. May I tell you something?"
"What is it?"
"I've half a mind to run away with you."
Now, as Dr. Earle was a rather young and a very handsome man, had been very kind, and was now looking at her with eyes actually moistened with tears, a sudden sense of being on the edge of a pitfall overcame Mrs. Hastings; and she turned pale and red alternately. Yet, with the instinct of a pure woman, to avoid recognizing an ugly thought, she answered with a laugh as gay as she could make it.
"If you were a witch, and offered me half of your broomstick to New York, I don't know but I should take it;—that is, if there was room on it anywhere for Jack."
"There wouldn't be," said the Doctor, and said no more.
The old fever seemed to have returned that afternoon. The hills glared so that Mrs. Hastings closed the cabin door to shut out the burning vision. The ground-squirrels, thinking from the silence that no one was within, ran up the mahogany tree at the side, and scampered over the canvas roof in glee. One, more intent on gain than the rest, invaded Jack's outside kitchen, knocking down the tin dishes with a clang, and scattering the dirt from the turf roof over the flour-sack and the two white plates. Every sound made her heart beat faster. Afraid of the silence and loneliness at last, she reopened the door; and then a rough-looking man came to the entrance, to inquire if there were any silver leads up the ravine.
Leads? she could not say: prospectors in plenty there were.
Then he went his way, having satisfied his curiosity; and the door was closed again. Some straggling donkeys wandered near, which were mistaken for "Diggers;" and dreading their glittering eyes, the nervous prisoner drew the curtain over the one little sliding window. There was nothing to read, nothing to sew, no housekeeping duties, because no house to keep; she was glad when the hour arrived for preparing the late afternoon meal.
That night she dreamed that she was a skeleton lying up the cañon—the sunshine parching her naked bones; that Dr. Earle came along with a pack-train going to the mill, and picking her up carefully, laid her on top of a bundle of wood; that the Mexican driver covered her up with a blanket, which so smothered her that she awakened, and started up gasping for breath. The feeling of suffocation continuing, she stole softly to the door, and opening it, let the chilly night air blow over her. Most persons would have found Mr. Hastings' house freely ventilated, but some way poor Alice found it hard to breathe in it.
The summer was passing; times grew, if possible, harder than before. The prospectors, who had found plenty of "leads," had spent their "bottom dollar" in opening them up and in waiting for purchasers, and were going back to California any way they could. The capitalists were holding off, satisfied that in the end all the valuable mines would fall into their hands, and caring nothing how fared the brave but unlucky discoverers. In fact, they overshot themselves, and made hard times for their own mills, the miners having to stop getting out rock.
Then Jack lost his situation. Very soon food began to be scarce in the cabin of Mr. Hastings. Scanty as it was, it was more than Alice craved; or rather, it was not what she craved. If she ate for a day or two, for the next two or three days she suffered with nausea and aversion to anything which the outside kitchen afforded. Jack seldom mentioned his mine now, and looked haggard and hopeless. The conversation between her husband and Dr. Earle, recorded elsewhere, had been overheard by Alice, lying half conscious; and she had never forgotten the threat about blowing out his brains in case he failed to sell his mine. Trifling as such an apprehension may appear to another, it is not unlikely that it had its effect to keep up her nervous condition. The summer was going—was gone. Mrs. Hastings had not met Dr. Earle for several weeks; and, despite herself, when the worst fears oppressed her, her first impulse was to turn to him. It had always seemed so easy for him to do what he liked!
was growing anxious to know if he could give the thumb-screw another turn. At all events, he directed his steps toward Mr. Hastings' house on the afternoon of the last day in August. Mrs. Hastings received him at the threshold and offered him the camp-stool—the only chair she had—in the shade outside the door; at the same time seating herself upon the door-step with the same grace as if it had been a silken sofa.
She was not daintily dressed this afternoon; for that luxury, like others, calls for the expenditure of a certain amount of money, and money Alice had not—not even enough to pay a Chinaman for "doing up" one of her pretty muslins. Neither had she the facilities for doing them herself, had she been skilled in that sort of labor; for even to do your own washing and ironing pre-supposes the usual conveniences of a laundry, and these did not belong to the furniture of the outside kitchen. She had not worn her linen lawn since the visit to the mill. The dust which blew freely through every crack of the shrunken boards precluded such extravagance. Thus it happened that a soiled cashmere wrapper was her afternoon wear. She had faded a good deal since her coming to Deep Cañon; but still looked pretty and graceful, and rather too
The Doctor held in his hand, on the point of a knife, the flower of a cactus very common in the mountains, which he presented her, warning her at the same time against its needle-like thorns.
"It makes me sick," said Alice hastily, throwing it away. "It is the color of gold, which I want so much; and of the sunshine, which I hate so."
"I brought it to you to show you the little emerald bee that is always to be found in one: it is wonderously beautiful,—a living gem, is it not?"
"Yes, I know," Alice said, "I admired the first one I saw; but I admire nothing any longer—nothing at least which surrounds me here."
"I understand that, of course," returned the Doctor. "It is because your health is failing you—because the air disagrees with you."
"And because my husband is so unfortunate. If he could only get away from here—and I!" The vanity of such a supposition, in their present circumstances, brought the tears to her eyes and a quiver about her mouth.
"Why did you ever come here! Why did he ever ask you to come;—how
he?" demanded the Doctor, setting his teeth together.
"That is a strange question, Doctor!" Mrs. Hastings answered with dignity, lifting her head like an antelope. "My husband was deceived by the same hopes which have ruined others. If I suffer, it is because we are both unfortunate."
"What will he do next?" questioned the Doctor curtly. The cruel meaning caused the blood to forsake her cheeks.
"I cannot tell what he will do,"—her brief answer rounded by an expressive silence.
"You might help him: shall I point out the way to you?"—watching her intently.
I help him?"—her whole form suddenly inspired with fresh life.
Dr. Earle looked into her eager face with a passion of jealous inquiry that made her cast down her eyes:
"Alice, do you
He called her Alice; he used a tone and asked a question which could not be misunderstood. Mrs. Hastings dropped her face into her hands, her hands upon her knees. She felt like a wild creature which the dogs hold at bay. She knew now what the man meant, and the temptation he used.
"Alice," he said again, "this man, your husband, possesses a prize he does not value; or does not know how to care for. Shall you stay here and starve with him? Is he worth it?"
"He is my husband," she answered simply, lifting up her face, calm, if mortally pale.
"And I might be your husband, after a brief interval," he said quickly. "There would have to be a divorce;—it could be conducted quietly. I do not ask you to commit yourself to dishonor. I will shield you; no care shall fall upon you, nor any reproach. Consider this well, dearest darling Alice! and what will be your fate if you depend upon him."
"Will it help
then, to desert him?" she asked faintly.
"Yes, unless by remaining with him you can insure his support. Maintain you he cannot. Suppose his mine were sold, he would waste that money as he wasted what he brought here. I don't want his mine, yet I will buy it tomorrow if that will satisfy you, and I have your promise to go with me. I told you once that I wanted to run away with you, and now I mean to. Shall I tell you my plan?"
"No, not to-day," Mrs. Hastings answered, struggling with her pain and embarrassment; "I could not bear it to-day, I think."
"How cruel I am while meaning to be kind! You are agitated as you ought not to be in your weak state. Shall I see you to-morrow—a professional visit, you know?"
"You will buy the mine?"—faintly, with something like a blush.
"Certainly; I swear I will—on what conditions, you know."
"On none other?"
"Shall I rob myself, not of money only, but of what is far dearer?—On
none other." He rose, took her cold hand, clasped it fervently, and went away.
When Jack came home to his very meagre dinner, he brought a can of peaches, which, being opened, looked so deliciously cool and tempting that Alice could not refrain from volubly exulting over them. "But how did you get them, Jack?" she asked; "not by going into debt, I hope."
"No. I was in Scott's store, and Earle, happening to come in just as Scott was selling some, and praising them highly, paid for a can, and asked me to take them to you and get your opinion. They are splendid, by Jove!"
"I do not fancy them," said Alice, setting down her plate; "but don't tell the Doctor," she added hastily.
"You don't fancy anything, lately, Alice," Mr. Hastings replied, rather crossly.
"Never mind, Jack; my appetite will come when you have sold your mine;" and upon that the unreasonably fastidious woman burst into tears.
"As if my position is not trying enough without seeing you cry!" said Jack, pausing from eating long enough to look injured. Plastic Jack! your surroundings were having their effect on you.
of the second of September had a notice of the sale of Mr. Hastings' mine, the "Sybil," bearing chloride of silver, to Dr. Eustance Earle, all of Deep Cañon. The papers to be handed over and cash paid down at Chloride Hill on the seventh; at which time Dr. Earle would start for San Francisco on the business of the mining firm to which he belonged. Mr. Hastings, it was understood, would go east about the same time.
All the parties were at Chloride Hill on the morning of the seventh, promptly. By eleven o'clock, the above-mentioned transaction was completed. Shortly after, one of the Opposition Line's stages stopped at Mrs. Robb's boarding-house, and a lady, dressed for traveling, stepped quickly into it. Having few acquaintances, and being closely veiled, the lady passed unrecognized at the stage-office, where the other passengers got in.
Half an hour afterwards Mr. Jack Hastings received the following note:
"Dear Jack: I sold your mine for you. Dr. Earle is running away with me, per agreement; but if you take the express this afternoon, you will reach Elko before the train leaves for San Francisco to-morrow. There is nothing worth going back for at Deep Cañon. If you love me, save me.
It is superfluous to state that Jack took the express, which, arriving at Elko before the Opposition, made him master of the situation. Not that he felt very masterful; he didn't. He was thinking of many things that it hurt him to remember; but he was meaning to do differently in future. He had at last sold his mine—no, he'd be d——d if
had sold it; but—Hallo! there's a big dust out on the road there!—it must be the other stage. Think what you'll do and say, Jack Hastings!
What he did say was: "Ah, Doctor! you here? It was lucky for my wife, wasn't it, since I got left, to have you to look after her? Thanks, old fellow; you are just in time for the train. Alice and I will stop over a day to rest. A thousand times obliged: good-bye! Alice, say good-bye to Doctor Earle! you will not see him again."
Their hands and eyes met. He was pale as marble: she flushed one instant, paled the next, with a curious expression in her eyes which the Doctor never forgot and never quite understood. It was enough to know that the game was up. He had another mine on his hands, and an ugly pain in his heart which he told himself bitterly would be obstinate of cure. If he only could be sure what that look in her eyes had meant!