The debate had ended. He gave the conductor a dismissing nod that sent him, with a signalling hand thrown high, smartly away toward the locomotive. The universal clatter and flutter redoubled. The bell was sounding and Mandeville was hotly shaking hands with Flora, Miranda, all. The train stirred, groaned, crept, faltered, crept on—on—one’s brain tingled to the cheers, and women were crying again.
Kincaid’s eyes ran far and near in final summing up. The reluctant train gave a dogged joggle and jerk, hung back, dragged on, moved a trifle quicker; and still the only proof that he knew she was here—here within three steps of him—was the careful failure of those eyes ever to light on her. Oh, heart, heart, heart! would it be so to the very end and vanishment of all?
“I take back—I take—” was there going to be no chance to begin it? Was he grief blind? or was he scorn blind? No matter! what she had sown she would reap if she had to do it under the very thundercloud of his frown. All or any, the blame of estrangement should be his, not hers! Oh, Connie, Connie! Mandeville had clutched Constance and was kissing her on lips and head and cheeks. He wheeled, caught a hand from the nearest car, and sprang in. Kincaid stood alone. The conductor made him an eager sign. The wheels of the train clicked briskly. He glanced up and down it, then sprang to Miranda, seized her hand, cried “Good-by!” snatched Madame’s, Flora’s, Victorine’s, Connie’s,—“Good-by—Good-by!”—and came to Anna.
And did she instantly begin, “I take—?” Not at all! She gave her hand, both hands, but her lips stood helplessly apart. Flora, Madame, Victorine, Constance, Miranda, Charlie from a car’s top, the three lieutenants, the battery’s whole hundred, saw Hilary’s gaze pour into hers, hers into his. Only the eyes of the tumultuous crowd still followed the train and its living freight. A woman darted to a car’s open door and gleaned one last wild kiss. Two, ten, twenty others, while the conductor ran waving, ordering, thrusting them away, repeated the splendid theft, and who last of all and with a double booty but Constance! Anna beheld the action, though with eyes still captive. With captive eyes, and with lips now shut and now apart again as she vainly strove for speech, she saw still plainer his speech fail also. His hands tightened on hers, hers in his.