One evening, soon after the last fearful disappointment, Dr. Gardner received a note asking him to come to a certain number on Fifth Avenue, and there he should meet Evelyn Howard. She inferred that he had had ample time to learn if he really desired to form her acquaintance, and she was ready now to see him.
Tearing the paper to atoms in sudden irritation and setting his teeth, the young physician was soon at the appointed place, an elegant brown-stone mansion, quite familiar to his eyes in his drives about the city.
He was not left long in suspense. There was a sound of rapid steps descending the stairs, with a frou-frou of silken skirts, and in a moment Lina Dent stood before him, her face aglow with a proud light he had never seen there, and her hands extended in glad welcome.
“You, Lina! You here? You have relented? This is too much happiness!”
Catching both soft white hands in his, he bent his lips to them, full of the rapture he could not speak. He forgot to wonder why she was there. He forgot everything but the love in her eyes and the joyous ring of her voice.
Ere they could be seated the door again opened and admitted an elderly lady, who approached smiling.
“My dear aunt!” exclaimed the young lover. “You, too? This is a surprise! What does it all mean? How did you get here, and when?”
The ladies stood smiling at each other and gazing upon him with a significance that indeed clamored for explanation.
“Weldon, is it possible you do not guess?” asked his aunt.
“What? Why, what do you mean? I am all bewildered!” he exclaimed, looking from one to the other till a faint glimmer of the truth began to appear through the mists.
“Stupid boy!” again emphasized the lady, “whom did you come here to see?”
Quickly glancing at the beautiful, radiant, still-smiling face of the young girl, and then at the impressive features of the elder lady, Weldon Gardner, with bated breath and a dazed expression in his startled eyes, exclaimed:
“Exactly so. Doctor Gardner—Evelina Dent Howard—at your service!”
As she spoke, she placed her hand in his, and asked, in the liquid tones whose cadences he so well remembered, “Have you been punished enough for your unknightly scorn of the girl you condemned without trial?”
“Oh, forgive!” he pleaded, drawing her to a seat beside him. “I see it all now. What a dolt you must have thought me! How could you ever have tolerated me?”
“There is the conspirator,” archly said Evelyn, pointing to Mrs. Duke. “She it was who enabled me to deceive you. I wrote to her immediately upon leaving your house for my cousin’s, in Brooklyn, and she at once devised the scheme that I have found so hard to carry out. Meanwhile, she never lost sight of you.”
It was long before the necessary explanations were exhausted, and when the new day dawned no happier man proudly entered upon his duties than did Weldon Gardner.