Bonner was a friend in need to Anderson Crow. The two were in consultation half of the time, and the young man’s opinions were not to be disregarded. He advanced a theory concerning the motives of the leader in the plot to send Rosalie into an exile from which she was not expected to return. It was his belief that the person who abandoned her as a babe was actuated by the desire to possess a fortune which should have been the child’s. The conditions attending the final disposition of this fortune doubtless were such as to make it unwise to destroy the girl’s life. The plotter, whatever his or her relation to the child may have been, must have felt that a time might come when the existence of the real heiress would be necessary. Either such a fear was the inspiration or the relationship was so dear that the heart of the arch-plotter was full of love for the innocent victim.
“Who is to say, Miss Gray,” said Bonner one night as they sat before the fire, “that the woman who left you with Mr. Crow was not your own mother? Suppose that a vast estate was to be yours in trust after the death of some rich relative, say grandparent. It would naturally mean that some one else resented this bequest, and probably with some justice. The property was to become your own when you attained a certain age, let us say. Don’t you see that the day would rob the disinherited person of every hope to retain the fortune? Even a mother might be tempted, for ambitious reasons, to go to extreme measures to secure the fortune for herself. Or she might have been influenced by a will stronger than her own—the will of an unscrupulous man. There are many contingencies, all probable, as you choose to analyse them.”
“But why should this person wish to banish me from the country altogether? I am no more dangerous here than I would be anywhere in Europe. And then think of the means they would have employed to get me away from Tinkletown. Have I not been lost to the world for years? Why—”
“True; but I am quite convinced, and I think Mr. Crow agrees with me, that the recent move was made necessary by the demands of one whose heart is not interested, but whose hand wields the sceptre of power over the love which tries to shield you. Any other would have cut off your life at the beginning.”
“That’s my idee,” agreed Anderson solemnly.
“I don’t want the fortune!” cried Rosalie. “I am happy here! Why can’t they let me alone?”
“I tell you, Miss Gray, unless something happens to prevent it, that woman will some day give you back your own—your fortune and your name.”
“I can’t believe it, Mr. Bonner. It is too much like a dream to me.”
“Well, doggone it, Rosalie, dreams don’t last forever!” broke in Anderson Crow. “You’ve got to wake up some time, don’t you see?”
As the Heart Grows Older