To his surprise his mother made no objection, but her manner seemed so strange that he at last asked what was the matter.
“Nothing—nothing in particular,” said she, “only I’ve been thinking it all over lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps ’Lena is innocent after all.”
Oh, how eagerly Durward caught at her words, interrupting her almost before she had finished speaking, with, “Do you know anything? Have you heard anything?”
She had heard—she did know; but ere she could reply, the violent ringing of the door-bell, and the arrival of visitors, prevented her answer. In a perfect fever of excitement Durward glanced at his watch. If he waited long, he would be too late for the cars, and with a hasty adieu he left the parlor, turning back ere he reached the outer door, and telling his mother he must speak with her alone. If Mrs. Graham had at first intended to divulge what she knew, the impulse was now gone, and to her son’s urgent request that she should disclose what she knew, she replied, “It isn’t much—only your father has another daguerreotype, the counterpart of the first one. He procured it in Cincinnati, and ’Lena I know was not there.”
“Is that all?” asked Durward, in a disappointed tone.
“Why no, not exactly. I have examined both pictures closely, and I do not think they resemble ’Lena as much as we at first supposed. Possibly it might have been some one else, her mother, may be,” and Mrs. Graham looked earnestly at her son, who rather impatiently answered, “Her mother died years ago.”
At the same time he walked away, pondering upon what he had heard, and hoping, half believing, that ’Lena would yet be exonerated from all blame. For a moment Mrs. Graham gazed after him, regretting that she had not told him all, but thinking there was time enough yet, and remembering that her husband had said she might wait until his return, if she chose, she went back to the parlor while Durward kept on his way.
Fiercely the noontide blaze of a scorching July sun was falling upon the huge walls of the “Laurel Hill Sun,” where a group of idlers were lounging on the long, narrow piazza, some niching into still more grotesque carving the rude, unpainted railing, while others, half reclining on one elbow, shaded their eyes with their old slouch hats, as they gazed wistfully toward the long hill, eager to catch the first sight of the daily stage which was momentarily expected.