But all this was unintelligible to the girl. “Dad would have got the better of him ef you hadn’t,” she said eagerly, “so what’s the difference?”
“All the same,” he said gloomily, “I must take his place.”
She did not understand, but turned her head to her master. “Then you’ll go back with me and tell him all?” she said obediently.
“Yes,” he said.
She put her hand in his, and they crept out of the wood together. She foresaw a thousand difficulties, but, chiefest of all, that he did not love as she did. She would not have taken these risks against their happiness.
But alas for ethics and heroism. As they were issuing from the wood they heard the sound of galloping hoofs, and had barely time to hide themselves before Madison Clay, on the stolen horse of Judge Boompointer, swept past them with his kinsman.
Salomy Jane turned to her lover.
* * * * *
And here I might, as a moral romancer, pause, leaving the guilty, passionate girl eloped with her disreputable lover, destined to lifelong shame and misery, misunderstood to the last by a criminal, fastidious parent. But I am confronted by certain facts, on which this romance is based. A month later a handbill was posted on one of the sentinel pines, announcing that the property would be sold by auction to the highest bidder by Mrs. John Dart, daughter of Madison Clay, Esq., and it was sold accordingly. Still later—by ten years—the chronicler of these pages visited a certain “stock” or “breeding farm,” in the “Blue Grass Country,” famous for the popular racers it has produced. He was told that the owner was the “best judge of horse-flesh in the country.” “Small wonder,” added his informant, “for they say as a young man out in California he was a horse-thief, and only saved himself by eloping with some rich farmer’s daughter. But he’s a straight-out and respectable man now, whose word about horses can’t be bought; and as for his wife, she’s a beauty! To see her at the ‘Springs,’ rigged out in the latest fashion, you’d never think she had ever lived out of New York or wasn’t the wife of one of its millionaires.”