“Yes; but has asked me to say that she does not wish to see you.”
Trove stood a moment, his tongue halting between anger and surprise. He turned without a word, walking away, a bitter feeling in his heart.
Brooke greeted him with unexpected heartiness. He was going to bed when the young man rapped upon his door.
Brooke opened the letter and read the words aloud: “Thanks, I shall not need thy help.”
“What!” Trove exclaimed.
“He says he shall not need the help I offered him,” Brooke answered.
“Good night!” said Trove, who, turning, left the house and hurried away. Lights were out everywhere in the village now. The windows were dark at the Sign of the Dial. He hurried up the old stairs and rapped loudly, but none came to admit him. He called and listened; within there were only silence and that old, familiar sound of the seconds trooping by, some with short and some with long steps. He knew that soon they were to grow faint and weary and pass no more that way. He ran to the foot of the stairs and stood a moment hesitating. Then he walked slowly to the county jail and looked up at the dark and silent building. For a little time he leaned upon a fence, there in the still night, shaken with sobs. Then he began walking up and down by the jail yard. He had not slept an hour in weeks and was weary, but he could not bear to come away and walked slower as the night wore on, hearing only the tread of his own feet. He knew not where to go and was drifting up and down, like a derelict in the sea. By and by people began to pass him,—weary crowds,—and they were pointing at the patches on his coat, and beneath them he could feel a kind of burning, but the crowd was dumb. He tried to say, “I am not to blame,” but his heart smote him when it was half said. Then, suddenly, many people were beside him, and far ahead on a steep hill, in dim, gray light, he could see Darrel toiling upward. And sometimes the tinker turned, beckoning him to follow. And Trove ran, but the way was long between them. And the tinker called to him; “Who drains the cup of another’s bitterness shall find it sweet.” Quickly he was alone, groping for his path in black darkness and presently coming down a stairway into the moonlit chamber of his inheritance. Then the men of the dark and a feeling of faintness and great surprise and a broad, blue field all about him and woods in the distance, and above the growing light of dawn. His bones were aching with illness and overwork, his feet sore. “I have been asleep,” he said, rubbing his eyes, “and all night I have been walking.”