Nor was it an assumed peace and calmness; for she had not now to learn to cast her care on the Lord, whom she had loved and served from her very infancy; and her head had not rested many moments upon her pillow ere she fell into a deep, sweet sleep, that lasted until morning.
While Elsie slept, and Mr. Travilla galloped homeward by the longer route, the moon, peering through the cloud curtains, looked down upon a dark figure, standing behind a tree not many yards distant from the thicket Elsie had besought her friend to shun. The man held a revolver in his hand, ready cocked for instant use. His attitude was that of one listening intently for some expected sound.
He had stood thus for hours, and was growing very weary. “Curse the wretch!” he muttered, “does he court all night? How many hours have I been here waiting for my chance for a shot at him? It’s getting to be no joke, hungry, cold, tired enough to lie down here on the ground. But I’ll stick it out, and shoot him down like a dog. He thinks to enjoy the prize he snatched from me, but he’ll find himself mistaken, or my name’s n——” The sentence ended with a fierce grinding of the teeth. Hark! was that the distant tread of a horse? He bent his ear to the earth, and almost held his breath to listen. Yes, faint but unmistakable; the sounds filled him with a fiendish joy. For years he had nursed his hatred of Travilla, whom he blamed almost exclusively for his failure to get possession of Elsie’s fortune.
He sprang up and again placed himself in position to fire. But what had become of the welcome sounds? Alas for his hoped-for revenge; they had died away entirely. The horse and his rider must have taken some other road. More low-breathed, bitter curses: yet perchance it was not the man for whose life he thirsted. He would wait and hope on.
But the night waned: one after another the moon and stars set and day began to break in the east; the birds waking in their nests overhead grew clamorous with joy, yet their notes seemed to contain a warning tone for him, bidding him begone ere the coming of the light hated by those whose deeds are evil. Chilled by the frosty air, and stiff and sore from long standing in a constrained position, he limped away, and disappeared in the deeper shadows of the woods.
Arthur’s words of warning had taken their desired effect; and cowardly, as base, wicked, and cruel, the man made haste to flee from the scene of his intended crime, imagining at times that he even heard the bloodhounds already on his track.
“At last I know thee—and
From all thy arts set free,
Abjures the cold consummate art
Shrin’d as a soul in thee.”
—SARA J. CLARK.
The rest of the winter passed quietly and happily with our friends at Ion and the Oaks, Mr. Travilla spending nearly half his time at the latter place, and in rides and walks with Elsie, whom he now and then coaxed to Ion for a call upon his mother.