“Do not be frightened. I am here and will protect you and your father’s remains.”
His words are spoken in a loud decisive tone and reach the ears of the crowd that press around the corpse.
Yielding to his indomitable will Ethel arises. She wavers an instant; then stretches out her arms toward her protector.
Trueman seizes the delicate hands and draws her to his side.
“You are safe in my charge,” he whispers to her soothingly. “Come with me and you shall witness your father’s burial. If it is done now the mob will be pacified and will cease to clamor for vengeance.”
Ethel walks by his side in silence.
The magnate’s body is picked up and placed on the improvised litter of boards which serves to support the body of Metz. In silence the procession moves on toward the town.
The battle for moderation is won.
A DOUBLE FUNERAL.
It is in an utterly hopeless frame of mind that Ethel walks beside Harvey Trueman. She cannot conceive that one man will have sufficient power over the passions of the multitude to prevent a violent demonstration when the graveyard is reached.
“They will tear my father’s body to pieces,” she sobs.
“Take my word for it, there will be no disorder,” Trueman assures her. He walks with Ethel at the head of the motley crowd that only an hour ago was clamoring for the body of Purdy; this same crowd is now transformed into an orderly procession. The absence of music, or of any sound other than the tramp of feet on the smooth hard roadway, makes the procession unusual. There is deep silence, save for the occasional words that are spoken by the principal actors.
“This is a sad reunion, Ethel; one that could never have been predicted. When we parted that afternoon, two years ago, you said you never wished to see me again. I have remained away, until now. You are not sorry that I have come to protect you. Tell me that you are not.” Harvey’s words are spoken earnestly; he has kept the love of all the months of separation pent up in his heart. Now he is in the presence of the one woman in all the world, he adores. Her imperfections are not unknown to him; he has felt the sting of her long silence, broken only by her telegram sent at the hour of his triumph in Chicago; yet for all this be feels his heart throb as quickly as in the old days.
“O, Harvey, can you forgive me for my heartlessness?” she asks in a faint whisper.
“I could not decide against my father that horrid day, when you and he parted enemies. And after you had departed I was urged by all my family and friends to put you out of my thoughts; I was told that you had sworn to be an enemy to all men and women of wealth; that if I were to communicate with you it would necessitate my disowning all my home ties. I am only a woman—a woman born to wealth. How could I foretell that you are not an enemy to the rich, but a true friend of humanity?”