March came, and with it, to the intense amazement of Anderson Crow, the ever-mysterious thousand dollars, a few weeks late. On a certain day the old marshal took Rosalie to Boggs City, and the guardianship proceedings were legally closed. Listlessly she accepted half of the money he had saved, having refused to take all of it. She was now her own mistress, much to her regret if not to his.
“I may go on living with you, Daddy Crow, may I not?” she asked wistfully as they drove home through the March blizzard. “This doesn’t mean that I cannot be your own little girl after to-day, does it?”
“Don’t talk like that, Rosalie Gray, er I’ll put you to bed ’thout a speck o’ supper,” growled he in his most threatening tones, but the tears were rolling down his cheeks at the time.
“Do you know, daddy, I honestly hope that the big city detective won’t find out who I am,” she said after a long period of reflection.
“Because, if he doesn’t, you won’t have any excuse for turning me out.”
“I’ll not only send you to bed, but I’ll give you a tarnation good lickin’ besides if you talk like—”
“But I’m twenty-one. You have no right,” said she so brightly that he cracked his whip over the horse’s back and blew his nose twice for full measure of gratitude.
“Well, I ain’t heerd anything from that fly detective lately, an’ I’m beginnin’ to think he ain’t sech a long sight better’n I am,” said he proudly.
“He isn’t half as good!” she cried.
“I mean as a detective,” he supplemented apologetically.
“So do I,” she agreed earnestly; but it was lost on him.
There was a letter at home for her from Edith Bonner. It brought the news that Wicker was going South to recuperate. His system had “gone off” since the accident, and the March winds were driving him away temporarily. Rosalie’s heart ached that night, and there was a still, cold dread in its depths that drove sleep away. He had not written to her, and she had begun to fear that their month had been a trifle to him, after all. Now she was troubled and grieved that she should have entertained the fear. Edith went on to say that her brother had seen the New York detective, who was still hopelessly in the dark, but struggling on in the belief that chance would open the way for him.
Rosalie, strive as she would to prevent it, grew pale and the roundness left her cheek as the weeks went by. Her every thought was with the man who had gone to the Southland. She loved him as she loved life, but she could not confess to him then or thereafter unless Providence made clear the purity of her birth to her and to all the world. When finally there came to her a long, friendly, even dignified letter from the far South, the roses began to struggle back to her cheeks and the warmth to her heart. Her response brought a prompt answer from him, and the roses grew faster than the spring itself. Friendship,