At that moment Mr. Dinsmore’s family carriage drove up, and John bowed and retired.
There were tearful embraces between the sisters and other relatives, and between Rose and the elder Mrs. Carrington.
“I feel as if you had been in terrible danger.” said Sophie, wiping her eyes. “John has just been telling us all about it. What a mercy that Mr. Travilla was warned in time!”
“By whom, Horace? if it be not an improper question,” asked the old lady, turning to Mr. Dinsmore.
“By a detective, Mrs. Carrington, who was secretly present at their meeting and heard all the arrangements.”
“He then knew who were the members appointed to be of the attacking party?”
Mr. Dinsmore bowed assent.
“Was George one?”
“My dear madam I did not see the detective, but their raids are usually made by men coming from a distance.”
“You are evading my question. I implore you to tell me all you know. George did not come down to breakfast; had evidently not occupied his bed last night, and this seems to explain his absence. I know, too, that he has bitterly hated Travilla since—since his arrest and imprisonment. Will you not tell me? Any certainty is to be preferred to this—this horrible suspense. I would know the worst.”
Thus adjured Mr. Dinsmore told her George had been appointed one of the party, but that he could not say that he was actually there. Also he suppressed the fact that the appointment had been by George’s own request.
She received the communication in silence, but the anguish in her face told that she felt little doubt of her nephew’s guilt. And as days and weeks rolled on bringing no news of him, her suspicions settled into a sad certainty; with the added sorrowful doubt whether he were living or dead.
We end our pilgrimage, ’tis fit that we
Should leave corruption, and foul sin behind us.
But with washed feet and hands, the heathen dared not
Enter their profane temples: and for me
To hope my passage to eternity
Can be made easy, till I have shook off
The burthen of my sins in free confession,
Aided with sorrow and repentance for them,
Is against reason.”
It began to be noticed that Wilkins Foster also had disappeared. It was said that he had not been seen since the raid upon Fairview, and the general supposition was that he had taken part in the outrage, received a wound in the affray and, on the advent of the troops, had fled the country.
His mother and sisters led a very retired life seldom going from home except to attend church and even there they had been frequently missing of late.
Elsie had been much engaged in efforts to comfort her old friend, Mrs. Carrington, and to entertain Mr. Lilburn, who was still at Ion; little excursions to points of interest in the vicinity, and visits to the plantations of the different families of the connection, who vied with each other in doing him honor, filled up the time to the exclusion of almost everything else, except the home duties which she would never allow herself to neglect.