Laine took out his pocket-book, put some notes in an envelope, and handed it to Moses. “This is for your ticket and to get some things to take to your mother,” he said. “Be back by the thirtieth, and hurry and call that cab for the twelve-thirty train. I’ve some letters to write before I leave, and there’s no time to lose. Tell Caddie I want to see her, and don’t forget about that Reilley family, and see that everything gets to them in good shape—a good dinner and all the bundles and plenty for the stockings. Tell Caddie I’m waiting.”
Later on, in the library, Laine sealed his last letter and put it on the pile Moses was to mail in the morning. Perhaps he had been a little rash this Christmas. Well, suppose he had. The boys in the office had done well through the year and ought to be told so. By itself a check was a pretty cold thing, and the words he had written to each had been honestly meant. And Miss Button, his stenographer, needed a little trip. Ten days at Atlantic City with her mother would pull her up. She had been looking badly lately—worried about her mother, Weeks had told him. Pity she was so homely. It was pretty unfair the way women had to work at both ends of the line. Weeks, too, could get his wife that fur coat he’d been wanting her to have for three years. What an honest old duck Weeks was!—and who would ever believe him as full of sentiment as a boy of twenty? He had overheard him talking to Miss Dutton about the coat that morning. Fifteen years Weeks had been his secretary, but to-night was the first time he had ever told him in actual words of his appreciation of his faithful service. “I wouldn’t want a million if it didn’t have some love with it,” Claudia had said to him, and before his half-closed eyes she seemed to stand in front of him.
“They are her gifts,” he said. “I was blind, and she has made me see.”
A VISIT TO VIRGINIA
Not until he was settled in the car did Laine let himself take in the meaning of the journey he was taking. The past few hours had been too hurried to think; but as he sat in the smoking-compartment thought was no longer to be held in abeyance, and he yielded to it with no effort at restraint.
Sleep was impossible. The train, due at Washington at seven-twelve, would there have to be changed to a local for Fredericksburg, but the early rising was no hardship. To sit up all night would have been none. Each turn of the wheel was taking him nearer and nearer, and to listen to them was strange joy. Only that morning he had wished Christmas was over, had indeed counted the days before business could again absorb, and now every hour would be priceless, every moment to be held back hungrily.