“You could not answer my letter better than you did. I never had a brother, and nothing can be more grateful to me than to meet you as we now meet.”
They sat, and he held the hand that belonged to his dead brother, and that the hand of lover was never again to clasp. Gentle in deeds of charity and tenderness, it would linger in its widowed whiteness until it signalled back to the hand that already beckoned over the dark waters.
Strangers who saw them would have taken them for lovers. They were of nearly the same age. She, with dark, luminous eyes, and hair colored like Haidee’s, matched well with the dark gray and light brown. What a world of tender and mournful sweetness this interview opened up to the hungry heart of Bart—the love of a sweet, thoughtful, considerate, intellectual and cultivated sister, unselfish and pure, to which no touch or color of earth or passion could come. How fully and tenderly he wrote of her to his mother, and how the unbidden wish came to his heart to tell another of her, and as if he had the right to do so.
Miss Aikens was a young lady of high mental endowments, and great force of character, cultivated in the true sense of culture, and very accomplished. How sad and bitter seemed the untimely fate of his brother; and the meeting of this sweet and mourning girl lent another anguish to his heart, that was so slow in its recovery from that blow.
The court ran on, grew irksome, and passed. Bart saw something more of Sartliff, and felt a melancholy interest in him. He also saw much of Ida, whom he could not help liking, and something of Miss Giddings, whom he admired.
THE OLD STORY.
On the morning after Wade’s return from the Geauga Court, upon entering the office, where Bart found him and Ranney and Case, and one or two others, there was the sudden hush that advises a new arrival that he has been a subject of remark.
“Good morning, Mr. Wade.”
“Good morning, Ridgeley.”
“You returned earlier than you anticipated?”
“Yes. How do you come on?”
“About the old way. Did you see my old client, Cole,” the King?”
“Old King Cole? Yes, I saw that worthy, and they say on the other side that they can’t try the case under a year, perhaps.”
“Well, we defend, and our defence will be as good then as ever,” said Bart.
“The suit was commenced to save the statute of limitations,” said Wade; “and if any defence exists I fear it will be in chancery.”
“My dear sir, we will make a defence at law,” was the decided answer.
“I saw some of your friends over there,” said Wade, “who made many enquiries about you.”
“They are kind.” said Bart.
“Of course you know Judge Markham?” said Wade.
Bart bowed. “He is a very honorable and high minded man!” Bart bowed again. “He spoke of you in the very highest terms, and I was very glad to hear him.”