For withthis terrible automatic struggle to avoid that death he was courtingcame a flash of reason. It was four months later, and a turbulent night. Miss Eversleigh, dignifiedly tall, but youthfully frank, as heremembered her, was waiting to drive him in a pony trap to the rectory. An old shipmate whom I set towatch that party quite accidentally run across your bows in the ferryboat, and heard enough to make him follow in your wake here, where hegot the portmanteau. Do you suppose this won't be blown all over California before she can be sent back to school? I know I have no right to what I have, and never had, and I have come here to seek him and make him take it back. He bore, nevertheless, an odd, weird likeness to the missing man Randolph was seeking, which strangely troubled him. He was relieved, however, when Captain Dornton rosewith apparent reluctance and put away his pipe.
But only for the moment. How far they would have been able to carry out that heroic resolve was never known, for an event occurred which eclipsed its importance. Perhaps his experienced ear, too, detected some harmony with all this in Randolph's voice. He had been received into his former fellowship, and even the presence of his mother had become familiar, but he began to be an object of secret commiseration. Although he was conscious that he was neither, but merely anunsuccessful miner suddenly reduced to the point of soliciting work oralms of any kind, he took advantage of the first crossing to plunge intoa side street, with a vague sense of hiding his shame. But he experienced a relief when she came eagerly towardhim in all her old girlish frankness, and with even something ofyearning expectation in her gray eyes.
Never since school kept did they have to crawl like that! Randolph half rose, and then sank back into his chair, awed, spellbound,and motionless. I brought it with me when we came here as a kind of memento to show him. I have notheard from him since. Beyond, the open channel between him and Verba Buena Island was racing with white-maned seas and sparkling in the shifting sunbeams. The man had told him he wanted rest;he could lie down on the bed in his clothes until he came. Rivers hesitated--but for the necessity of silence she would have openly protested--but that protest was shut up in her compressed lips as she came forward.
I was a little frightened at first, when I came to think what I was doing, but everybody was very kind, and I really feel quite independent now. Why he should suddenly cease to provide for my little cousin--if he has done so--or if his omission means only some temporary disaster to himself or his fortunes, I do not know. He and his wife were able to keep their trust in regardto the property, for, without investing a dollar of it in the bank,the mere reputation of his wife's wealth brought him a flood of otherinvestors and a confidence which at once secured his success. Even the house he had just quitted seemed empty of life throughout its rambling length. He ventured to say this, and added a little awkwardly, and coloring, that he had seen Bobby only twice. He presently was aware of a camp-meeting hymn hummed somewhat ostentatiously by a deep contralto voice, which he at once recognized as Melinda's, and saw that severe virgin proceeding from the kitchen along the ridge until within a few paces of the buckeyes, when she stopped and, with her hand shading her eyes, apparently began to examine the distant fields.
The resolve he had made to keep his relations with her apart from his secret, he knew now, was impossible. And now I must go. While cutting bark, with his back momentarily turned on his companions, he heard a scream, and turned quickly to see John Wesley struggling in the water, grasping a tree root, and Mary Emmeline--nowhere! I'd nofear that he'd object, or that he'd hesitate a minute to fall in with myplan of dropping my name and my game, and giving him full swing, while Istood out to sea and the South Pacific, and dropped out of his mess forthe rest of my life. He had once thought of confiding his doubts to Mr. Except on this occasion, the captain talked with Randolph chiefly of his later past,--of voyages he had made, of places they were passing, and ports they visited. He could see that she was handsomely dressed andquite pretty, and as she passed out she lifted to his withdrawing figurea pair of calm, inquiring eyes, which, however, changed to a look ofhalf-wondering, half-amused pity as she gazed.
Another hour passed--nine o'clock, blown in fitful, far-off strokes from some wind-rocked steeple. Was he the self-deceived disciple of a visionary, a generous, unselfish, but weak man, whose eccentricity passed even the bounds of reason? He might be, in the captain's indifference, a mere instrument set aside at his pleasure. It was a cold, foggy morning, nearly two months later, that they landedat Plymouth. At the nextcorner he paused; he had reached another, and, from its dilapidatedappearance, apparently an older wharf than that where he had landed,but, like the first, it was still a straggling avenue leading toward thehigher and more animated part of the city. He discovered the purse, a chamois leather bag such as miners and travelers carried, which contained a dozen gold pieces and some paper notes. Duchesne, under the safe lee of the door, explained that Mr. And then his mind began to be filled with strangeand weird fancies.
He did this in the belief that it would enable him to make up hismind whether to reveal his real feelings to her, and perhaps therewas the more alluring hope that his absence might provoke somemanifestations of sentiment on her part. He was totally unprepared for the question, and as unable to answer it. No, he would not beg, he would not ask assistancefrom these people; he would go back--anywhere! Distraught and anxious as he was, he could not resist the young girl's offer after luncheon to show him the church with the vault of the Dorntons and the tablet erected to John Dornton, and, later, the Hall, only two miles distant. And the grim sanctity of the edifice seemed to makethat resolution a vow. Only once the captain,catching sight of Randolph's awed face under the lamp of the smokingcarriage, gave way to his long, low laugh. My anxiety was more for the poor boy's sake than formyself, for as long as I live I can provide for him.
Happily unconscious of the sensation he had caused, Colonel Starbottle seated himself on the sofa, his white hands resting easily on the gold-headed cane. Randolph felt the burning liquor scald his throat and fire his empty stomach. Yes, I was the next of kin after dear Jack died and Bill succeeded, but there was every chance that he would marry and have an heir. Do you suppose those cackling hussies in the next room won't give the whole story away to the next man who stands treat? I ordered the room a week ago. Perhaps you would like to register now. How invitingthe bed looked to his weary eyes! Their first words were, naturally, of their great secret, and Randolphtold her the whole story of his unexpected and startling meeting withthe captain, and the captain's strange narrative, of his undertaking thejourney with him to recover his claim, establish his identity, and, asRandolph had hoped, restore to her that member of the family whom shehad most cared for.
He bore,nevertheless, an odd, weird likeness to the missing man Randolph wasseeking, which strangely troubled him. There had been enough in her questioners' manner to make her suspect that her guardian was being attacked, and to his defense she brought the mendacity and imagination of a clever child. He could now only look forward t o her reappearance at the bank, and herehe was destined to a more serious disappointment. Randolph had intended not to return to London until after the funeral,two days later, and spent the interesting day at the neighboring town,whence he dispatched his exploring and perhaps hopeless letter tothe captain. I have waited sincenine o'clock last night in his room, and he has not come. Dingwall's the evening she arrived. The inn yard and the streets of the little village were filled with their quaint liveries, crested paneled carriages, and silver-cipher caparisoned horses, with a sprinkling of fashion from London.
Even if this girl were cognizant of the man who supplied her address to the Callao banker two years ago, and he was really the missing owner of the portmanteau, would she know where he was now? A new panful of beans was brought on, and Seth, your friend, banked for them. You've ridden straight from start to finish, with no jockeying, and I shan't forget it. But her allusion to Callao and the boy's name had again excited his fancy and revived his romantic dream of their common benefactor. To me they meant only the old thing--the life of a countrygentleman, the hunting, the shooting, the whole beastly business thatthe land, over there, hangs like a millstone round your neck. She listened to him breathlessly, with varying color, withan occasional outburst of pity, or a strange shining of the eyes, thatsometimes became clouded and misty, and at the conclusion with a calmand grave paleness.