Laine followed her to the steps to take upon himself the responsibility of her delay, and as he came back in the room he glanced at the clock and took out his watch. It wouldn’t do for a girl from the country to get into New York alone at this time of night, and, of course, he would have to meet her; but why did she come at this hour of night? Ringing for his coat and hat, he put them on, then stopped to light a cigar, and as the match was held to it the front door-bell rang sharply. A moment later some one was talking to Timkins.
“Is this Mr. Warrick’s residence?”
The voice that asked the question was fresh and clear, and carried easily to where he stood. He looked around quickly as if for escape.
“Yes’m.” He could picture the bow Timkins was making. Timkins was the politest person he knew. “Yes’m, and this is Miss Keith, isn’t it? Just come in, ma’m, we’re expecting of you, though your train must have been a little earlier than usual, ma’m. Mr. Warrick is out of town, and Mrs. Warrick had a pressing engagement which couldn’t be denied, but she left messages for you, and I think a note. Yes’m, just this way.” And Timkins, knowing Laine was in the library, led the stranger past the door and up the steps, over the banisters of which was heard from Dorothea a cry of delight.
“Oh, my Cousin Claudia! My Cousin Claudia! I’m so glad you’ve come! I’m so glad!”
A laugh as fresh as the dawn of perfect morning followed the kisses next heard, and then the new voice spoke again.
“You precious child! I’m so glad you’re glad. It’s so nice to have somebody glad to see you!”
THE LOSS OF HIS BEST FRIEND
At the click of Laine’s latch-key Moses started from the doze into which he had fallen and jumped to his feet. “Lord, sir, I sure is glad you’ve come,” he said, following Laine into the library. “Gineral’s been mighty bad off since you went away, and one time I thought he was plumb gone. He done had what you might call a faintin’ fit if’n he was a person.”
“Where is he?” Laine’s voice was quick, and his eyes swept the room. “What have you done for him?”
“He laid himself on the rug in your room, sir, and I give him a little brandy and water. Most in general that will hit the spot and—” But Laine was in his room, and Moses, following, saw him on his knees by the rug, his right arm under the dog’s head, his left on the heart which was barely beating, and softly he tiptoed out again.
For an hour or so he stayed away, wandering between his room and the kitchen, the kitchen and the dining-room, and back again to his room, talking to himself in an undertone; and presently he sat down by a table and began to turn the pages of a family Bible which adorned it, and which he had presented to himself the Christmas before.