All the Ridge-neighborhood gathered to do honor to Phrony and to testify their sympathy for her grandfather. It was an exhibition of feeling such as Keith had not seen since he left the country. The old man appeared stronger than he had seemed for some time. He took charge and gave directions in a clear and steady voice.
When the services were over and the last word had been said, he stepped forward and raised his hand.
“I’ve got her back,” he said. “I’ve got her back where nobody can take her from me again. I was mighty harsh on her; but I’ve done forgive her long ago—and I hope she knows it now. I heard once that the man that took her away said he didn’t marry her. But—“. He paused for a moment, then went on: “He was a liar. I’ve got the proof.—But I want you all to witness that if I ever meet him, in this world or the next, the Lord do so to me, and more also! if I don’t kill him!” He paused again, and his breathing was the only sound that was heard in the deathly stillness that had fallen on the listening crowd.
“—And if any man interferes and balks me in my right,” he continued slowly, “I’ll have his blood. Good-by. I thank you for her.” He turned back to the grave and began to smooth the sides.
Keith’s eyes fell on Dave Dennison, where he stood on the outer edge of the crowd. His face was sphinx-like; but his bosom heaved twice, and Keith knew that two men waited to meet Wickersham.
As the crowd melted away, whispering among themselves, Keith crossed over and laid a rose on General Huntington’s grave.
Keith had been making up his mind for some time to go to Brookford. New York had changed utterly for him since Lois left. The whole world seemed to have changed. The day after he reached New York, Keith received a letter from Miss Brooke. She wrote that her niece was ill and had asked her to write and request him to see Mrs. Lancaster, who would explain something to him. She did not say what it was. She added that she wished she had never heard of New York. It was a cry of anguish.
Keith’s heart sank like lead. For the first time in his life he had a presentiment. Lois Huntington would die, and he would never see her again. Despair took hold of him. Keith could stand it no longer. He went to Brookford.
The Lawns was one of those old-fashioned country places, a few miles outside of the town, such as our people of means used to have a few generations ago, before they had lost the landholding instinct of their English ancestors and gained the herding proclivity of modern life. The extensive yard and grounds were filled with shrubbery—lilacs, rose-bushes, and evergreens—and shaded by fine old trees, among which the birds were singing as Keith drove up the curving road, and over all was an air of quietude and peace which filled his heart with tenderness.