Hot, and dusty, and tired, and sick, and utterly hopeless and wretched, Ethie looked drearily out from the windows of her room at the hotel, whither she had gone on her first arrival in Davenport. Her head seemed bursting as she stood tying her bonnet before the mirror, and drawing on her gloves, she glanced wistfully at the inviting-looking bed, feeling strongly tempted to lie down there among the pillows and wait till she was rested before she went out in that broiling August sun upon her strange errand. But a haunting presentiment of what the dizziness and pain in her head and temples portended urged her to do quickly what she had to do; so with another gulp of the ice water she had ordered, and which only for a moment cooled her feverish heat, she went from her room into the hall, where the boy was waiting to show her the way to “the governor’s house.” He knew just where it was. Everybody knew in Davenport, and the chambermaid to whom Ethie had put some questions, had volunteered the information that the governor had gone East for his health, and the house, she believed, was shut up—not shut so that she could not effect an entrance to it. She would find her way through every obstacle, Ethie thought, wondering vaguely at the strength which kept her up and made her feel equal to most anything as she followed her conductor through street after street, onward and onward, up the hill, where the long windows and turrets of a most elegant mansion were visible. When asked at the hotel if she would not have a carriage, she had replied that she preferred to walk, feeling that in this way she should expend some of the fierce excitement consuming her like an inward fire. It had not abated one whit when at last the house was reached, and dismissing her guide she stood a moment upon the steps, leaning her throbbing head against the door post, and summoning courage to ring the bell. Never before had she felt so much like an intruder, or so widely separated from her husband, as during the moment she stood at the threshold of her home, hesitating whether to ring or go away and give the matter up. She could not go away now that she had come so far, she finally decided. She must go in and see the place where Richard lived, and so, at last, she gave the silver knob a pull, which reverberated through the entire house, and brought Hannah, the housemaid, in a trice to see who was there.
“Is Governor Markham at home?” Ethie asked, as the girl waited for her to say something.
Governor Markham was East, and the folks all gone, the girl replied, staring a little suspiciously at the stranger who without invitation, had advanced into the hall, and even showed a disposition to make herself further at home by walking into the drawing room, the door of which was slightly ajar.
“My name is Markham. I am a relative of the governor. I am from the East,” Ethelyn volunteered, as she saw the girl expected some explanation.