“We’ll talk of all this by and by, Tom,” replied Kenneth, kindly. “Just now you must have some sleep and get your strength back. And don’t worry about Lucy. Burke will do everything that can be done, and I am confident he will be able to trace the girl in time.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Then he followed the butler away to his room, and after the girls had discussed him and expressed their sympathy for the unfortunate fellow, they all turned their attention to the important matter of the campaign. The debate with Hopkins was the thing that occupied them just now, and when Patsy joined the group of workers they began to discuss some means of scoring a decisive victory at the Fairview Opera House. The Honorable Erastus still insisted upon making the anti-sign fight the prominent issue of the campaign, and they must reply forcibly to the misleading statements made in his last hand-bill.
Meantime Tom Gates was sunk in the deep sleep of physical exhaustion, and the day wore away before he wakened. When at last he regained consciousness he found the sun sinking in the west and feared he had been guilty of indiscretion. He remembered that he was Mr. Forbes’s secretary now, and that Mr. Forbes might want him. He was not yet thoroughly rested, but night was approaching and he reflected that he could obtain all the sleep that he needed then.
So, greatly refreshed, and in a quieter mood than he had been for days, the young man dressed and entered the hall to find his way downstairs.
It happened that Beth, whose room was near this rear corridor, had just gone there to dress for dinner, and as she was closing her door she heard a wild, impassioned cry:
Quickly she sprang out into the hall and turned the corner in time to see a strange tableau.
Young Gates was standing with his arms outstretched toward Eliza Parsons, who, a few paces away, had her back to the door of her own chamber, from which she had evidently just stepped. She stood motionless, looking curiously at the youth who confronted her.
“Lucy! don’t you know me?” he asked, his voice trembling with emotion.
“To begin with,” said the girl, composedly, “my name happens to be Eliza. And as we’ve not been properly introduced I really don’t see why I should know you,” she added, with a light laugh.
Tom Gates shrank away from her as if he had been struck.
“You can’t be Lucy!” he murmured. “And yet—and yet—oh, you must be Lucy! You must know me! Look at me, dear—I’m Tom. I’m your own Tom, Lucy!”
“It’s very gratifying, I’m sure, young man,” said the girl, a touch of scorn in her tones. “If you’re my own Tom you’ll perhaps stand out of my way and let me go to my work.”
Without another word he backed up again; the wall and permitted her to sweep by him, which she did with a gesture of disdain.
When Eliza Parsons had disappeared down the back stairs Beth drew a long breath and approached Tom Gates, who still stood by the wall staring at the place where the girl had disappeared.