“I wonder he did not tell you,” said the Judge.
“He hardly spoke,” said Julia, “unless compelled to, and told me I was too broken down to say anything. I tried to thank him, and he said I was not myself, and stopped me.”
Toward noon of the next day, the Judge drove up to his own gate, alone, and not a little troubled. His wife and daughter were evidently expecting him. They seemed disappointed.
“Wouldn’t he come?” asked his wife.
“He was not there to come.”
“Not there!” from both.
“No; he went off in the stage last night to Jefferson.”
“Went off! Why, father!”
“Well, it seems that he had arranged to leave on Tuesday, and sent his trunk out to Hiccox’s, but didn’t go; and all day Wednesday he wandered about, his mother said, seeming reluctant to start. At evening she said he appeared much depressed, and said he would not go until the next evening.”
“Thank God!” said the ladies.
“George,” continued the Judge, “who had been down to the Post-office, heard that you were lost, and hurried home, and told him all he had heard. His mother said when he heard it he asked a good many questions, and said, ‘I know now why I stayed,’ and that in five minutes he was off to the woods.”
“Father, there was a special Providence in it all.”
“And did Providence send him off last night?”
“Did his mother tell how he came to think Julia had crossed the old road?”
“He didn’t tell his mother much about it. She said he was more cheerful and lighter hearted than he had been for a year, but did not seem inclined to talk much; ate a very little breakfast, and went to bed, saying that he hoped she would not let anybody disturb him. He did not come down again until five, and then told her he should leave that evening. She tried to dissuade him, but he said he must go—that he was not wanted here any more—that he felt it was better for him to go at once. She said that she spoke to him of us, of Julia, saying that she thought he ought to remain and let us see him, if we wished. He answered that he had better go then, and that they would understand it. He said they might perhaps call and say some things to her; if they did, she should say to them that he could understand what their feelings might be, and appreciated them; that it was not necessary to say anything to him; that he wished all the past to be forgotten, and that nothing might be said or done to recall it; he had left Newbury forever as a home.
“I told her that I wanted to provide for his studies, and to start him in business—of course in as delicate a way as possible. She rather started up at that, and said she hoped I would never in any way make any offer of help to him. I asked who went with him to meet the stage, and his mother replied that he went alone—walked down just at dark, and wouldn’t permit either of the boys to go with him.”