“Never mind what I said this morning—or any other time,” broke in Alice, softly. “Don’t ever remember it again, Theron, if only—only—”
He rose as she spoke, moved round the table to where she sat, and, bending over her, stopped the faltering sentence with a kiss. When was it, he wondered, that he had last kissed her? It seemed years, ages, ago.
An hour later, with hat and overcoat on, and his valise in his hand, he stood on the doorstep of the parsonage, and kissed her once more before he turned and descended into the darkness. He felt like whistling as his feet sounded firmly on the plank sidewalk beyond the gate. It seemed as if he had never been in such capital good spirits before in his life.
The train was at a standstill somewhere, and the dull, ashen beginnings of daylight had made a first feeble start toward effacing the lamps in the car-roof, when the new day opened for Theron. A man who had just come in stopped at the seat upon which he had been stretched through the night, and, tapping him brusquely on the knee, said, “I’m afraid I must trouble you, sir.” After a moment of sleep-burdened confusion, he sat up, and the man took the other half of the seat and opened a newspaper, still damp from the press. It was morning, then.
Theron rubbed a clear space upon the clouded window with his thumb, and looked out. There was nothing to be seen but a broad stretch of tracks, and beyond this the shadowed outlines of wagons and machinery in a yard, with a background of factory buildings.
The atmosphere in the car was vile beyond belief. He thought of opening the window, but feared that the peremptory-looking man with the paper, who had wakened him and made him sit up, might object. They were the only people in the car who were sitting up. Backwards and forwards, on either side of the narrow aisle, the dim light disclosed recumbent forms, curled uncomfortably into corners, or sprawling at difficult angles which involved the least interference with one another. Here and there an upturned face gave a livid patch of surface for the mingled play of the gray dawn and the yellow lamp-light. A ceaseless noise of snoring was in the air.
He got up and walked to the tank of ice-water at the end of the aisle, and took a drink from the most inaccessible portion of the common tin-cup’s rim. The happy idea of going out on the platform struck him, and he acted upon it. The morning air was deliciously cool and fresh by contrast, and he filled his lungs with it again and again. Standing here, he could discern beyond the buildings to the right the faint purplish outlines of great rounded hills. Some workmen, one of them bearing a torch, were crouching along under the side of the train, pounding upon the resonant wheels with small hammers. He recalled having heard the same sound in the watches of the night, during a prolonged halt. Some one had said it was Albany. He smiled in spite of himself at the thought that Bishop Sanderson would never know about the visit he had missed.