“So? Then some one is watching Sylvia; keeping track of her, and must be kindly disposed from that. You never heard anything before?”
“Never. I was asked to send a verbal answer by the messenger who brought me the letter, accepting or declining the offer. I declined it.”
“That was right. But there’s no hiding anything in this world; you must have some idea where the offer came from.”
“I haven’t the slightest, not the remotest idea. The messenger was a stranger to me; from what Sylvia said he was a stranger at Montgomery and had never seen the college before. Time had begun to soften the whole thing, and the knowledge that some one has been watching the child all these years troubles me. It roused all my old resentment; I have hardly slept since it occurred.”
“It’s queer; but you’d better try to forget it. Somebody’s conscience is hurting, I reckon. I wouldn’t know how to account for it in any other way. If it’s a case of conscience, it may have satisfied itself by offering money; if it didn’t, you or Sylvia may hear from it again.”
“It’s just that that hurts and worries me,—the possibility that this person may trouble Sylvia sometime when I am not here to help her. It’s an awful thing for a woman to go out into the world followed by a shadow. It’s so much worse for a woman; women are so helpless.”
“Some of us, like me, are pretty tough, too. Sylvia will be able to take care of herself; you don’t need to worry about her. If that’s gnawing some man’s conscience—and I reckon it is—you can forget all about it. A man’s conscience—the kind of man that would abandon a woman he had married, or maybe hadn’t married—ain’t going to be a ghost that walks often. You’d better go to bed, Andrew.”
Kelton lingered to smoke a cigar in the open. He had enjoyed to-night an experience that he had not known in years—that of unburdening himself to a kindly, sympathetic, and resourceful woman.
While they talked of her, Sylvia sat in her window-seat in the dark above looking at the stars. She lingered there until late, enjoying the cool air, and unwilling to terminate in sleep so eventful a day. She heard presently her grandfather’s step below as he “stood watch,” marking his brief course across the dim garden by the light of his cigar. Sylvia was very happy. She had for a few hours breathed the ampler ether of a new world; but she was unconscious in her dreaming that her girlhood, that had been as tranquil water safe from current and commotion, now felt the outward drawing of the tide.
INTRODUCING MR. DANIEL HARWOOD
On the day following the delivery to Andrew Kelton of the letter in which money for Sylvia’s education was offered by an unknown person, the bearer of the message was to be seen at Indianapolis, in the law office of Wright and Fitch, attorneys and counselors at law, on the fourth floor of the White River Trust Company’s building in Washington Street. In that office young Mr. Harwood was one of half a dozen students, who ran errands to the courts, kept the accounts, and otherwise made themselves useful.