Most of her conversation was of her friends and their position. Alice was thinking of going abroad soon to visit some friends on the other side, “of a very distinguished family,” she told Keith.
When Keith left the Lancaster house that night Alice Lancaster knew that he had wholly recovered.
WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
Keith returned home and soon found himself a much bigger man in New Leeds than when he went away. The mine opened on the Rawson property began to give from the first large promises of success.
Keith picked up a newspaper one day a little later. It announced in large head-lines, as befitted the chronicling of such an event, the death of Mr. William Lancaster, capitalist. He had died suddenly in his office. His wife, it was stated, was in Europe and had been cabled the sad intelligence. There was a sketch of his life and also of that of his wife. Their marriage, it was recalled, had been one of the “romances” of the season a few years before. He had taken society by surprise by carrying off one of the belles of the season, the beautiful Miss Yorke. The rest of the notice was taken up in conjectures as to the amount of his property and the sums he would be likely to leave to the various charitable institutions of which he had always been a liberal patron.
Keith laid the paper down on his knee and went off in a revery. Mr. Lancaster was dead! Of all the men he had met in New York he had in some ways struck him the most. He had appeared to him the most perfect type of a gentleman; self-contained, and inclined to be cold, but a man of elegance as well as of brains. He felt that he ought to be sorry Mr. Lancaster was dead, and he tried to be sorry for his wife. He started to write her a letter of condolence, but stopped at the first line, and could get no further. Yet several times a day, for many days, she recurred to him, each time giving him a feeling of dissatisfaction, until at length he was able to banish her from his mind.
Prosperity is like the tide. It comes, each wave higher and higher, until it almost appears that it will never end, and then suddenly it seems to ebb a little, comes up again, recedes again, and, before one knows it, is passing away as surely as it came.
Just when Keith thought that his tide was in full flood, it began to ebb without any apparent cause, and before he was aware of it, the prosperity which for the last few years had been setting in so steadily in those mountain regions had passed away, and New Leeds and he were left stranded upon the rocks.
Rumor came down to New Leeds from the North. The Wickersham enterprises were said to be hard hit by some of the failures which had occurred.