Bonner’s eagerness to begin probing into the mystery grew as his strength came back to him. He volunteered to interest his uncle in the matter, and through him to begin a systematic effort to unravel the tangled ends of Rosalie’s life. Money was not to be spared; time and intelligence were to be devoted to the cause. He knew that Rosalie was in reality a creature of good birth and worthy of the name that any man might seek to bestow upon her—a name given in love by a man to the woman who would share it with him forever.
The days and nights were teaching him the sacredness of a growing attachment. He was not closing his eyes to the truth. It was quite as impossible for big, worldly Wick Bonner to be near her and not fall a victim, as it was for the crude, humble youth of Tinkletown. His heart was just as fragile as theirs when it bared itself to her attack. Her beauty attracted him, her natural refinement of character appealed to him; her pureness, her tenderness, her goodness, wrought havoc with his impressions. Fresh, bright, as clear-headed as the June sunshine, she was a revelation to him—to Bonner, who had known her sex in all its environments. His heart was full of her, day and night; for day and night he was wondering whether she could care for him as he knew he was coming to care for her.
One day he received a telegram. It was from his mother and his sister, who had just reached Boston from Bermuda, and it carried the brief though emphatic information that they were starting to Tinkletown to nurse and care for him. Bonner was thrown into a panic. He realised in the instant that it would be impossible for them to come to Mr. Crow’s home, and he knew they could not be deceived as to his real condition. His mother would naturally insist upon his going at once to Bonner Place, across the river, and on to Boston as soon as he was able; his clever sister would see through his motives like a flash of lightning. Young Mr. Bonner loved them, but he was distinctly bored by the prospect of their coming. In some haste and confusion, he sent for “Doc” Smith.
“Doctor, how soon will I be able to navigate?” he asked anxiously.
“You don’t say so! I don’t feel strong, you know.”
“Well, your leg’s doing well and all danger is past. Of course, you won’t be as spry as usual for some time, and you can’t walk without crutches, but I don’t see any sense in your loafing around here on that account. You’d be safe to go at any time, Mr. Bonner.”
“Look here, doctor, I’m afraid to change doctors. You’ve handled this case mighty well, and if I went to some other chap, he might undo it all. I’ve made up my mind to have you look out for me until this wound is completely healed. That’s all right, now. I know what I’m talking about. I’ll take no chances. How long will it be until it is completely healed?”
“A couple of weeks, I suppose.”