She became aware of a throbbing in her head, a dull pain, and mechanically seating herself near one of the tables, she put up her hand and started to draw the pins from her hair, but soon desisted. Again she began to think, more clearly this time, more poignantly, of all she had experienced—listened to—that night!
She, a Wray, sprung from a long line of proud, illustrious folk! And he? The breath of the roses outside was wafted upward; her eyes, deep, self-scoffing, rested, without seeing, on a small dark object on a handkerchief on the table. What was it to her if they took him?—What indeed? Her fingers played with the object, closed hard on it. Why should she care if he paid the penalty; he, a self-confessed—–
Something fell from the velvet covering in her hand and struck with a musical sound on the hard, polished top. Amid a turmoil of thoughts, she was vaguely aware of it gleaming there on the cold white marble, a small disk—a gold coin. At first it seemed only to catch without interesting her glance; then slowly she took it, as if asking herself how it came there, on her handkerchief, which, she dimly remembered, had been lying on the floor. Some one, of course, must have picked up the handkerchief; but no one had been in the room since she had noticed it except—
Her gaze swung to the window; he, then, had left it. Why? What had she to do with anything that had been his?
More closely she scrutinized it, the shining disk on her rosy palm; a King George gold piece! Above the monarch’s face and head with its flowing locks, appeared a tiny hole, as if some one had once worn it; beneath, just discernible, was the date, 1762. She continued to regard it; then looked again at the bit of velvet, near-by. It had been wrapped in that, carefully; for what reason? Like something more than what it seemed—a mere gold piece!
“1762.” Why, even as she gazed at the cloth, felt it, did the figures seem to reiterate themselves in her brain? “1762.” There could be nothing especially significant about the date; yet even as she concluded thus, by some introspective process she saw herself bending over, studying those figures on another occasion. Herself—and yet—
She was looking straight before her now; suddenly she started and sprang up. “A King George gold piece!” Her hair, unbound, fell around her, below her waist; her eyes like sapphires, gazed out from a veritable shimmer of gold. “Date—” She paused. “Why, this belonged to me once, as a child, and I—”
The blue eyes seemed searching—searching; abruptly she found what she sought. “I gave it to the convict on the Lord Nelson.” She almost whispered the words. “The brave, brave fellow who sacrificed his life for mine.” Her warm fingers closed softly on the coin; she seemed wrapped in the picture thus recalled.
“Then how—” Her brows knitted, she swept the shining hair from her face. “If he were drowned, how could it have been left here by—” Her eyes were dark now with excitement. “Him? Him?” she repeated. “Unless,” her breast suddenly heaved—“he was not drowned, after all; he—”