“That was last night, you say?”
“Yes, just before six o’clock.”
“He had not heard, then, of his daughter’s terrible deed.”
John started, and looked keenly into Mrs. Hampton’s face.
“Why, what have you heard, about his daughter, mother?” He tried to be calm, but his heart was beating rapidly.
“I heard that she drowned herself last night.”
“Who told you that?”
“Gabriel Grimsby. He called in to rest for a while this afternoon. You met him, did you not?”
“Indeed I did, the rascal. But he is not anxious to meet me. I let him have ten dollars some time ago, and he has given me a wide berth ever since. What did Gabe tell you about Miss Randall?”
“Not very much. He merely said that she was a beautiful girl, much sought after, and moved a great deal in society. It seems that her parents wanted to force her to marry a man for whom she did not care, a Lord Somebody or other, and in despair she took her own life. Poor girl! it is very sad. You must have heard of it, John, and whether they have found her body.”
John was listening intently to every word, at the same time watching the “Eb and Flo” bearing steadily up river.
“They have not found her body,” he absently replied. “There is great excitement at Benton’s wharf, and the river is now being dragged for her body.”
“Dear me!” Mrs. Hampton sighed. “Her parents must be heart-broken.”
“Heart-broken! H’m, they haven’t any hearts to break. If they had, they wouldn’t try to force their only daughter to marry a thing like Donaster.”
“It is often done, though, John.”
“I know it is. Some parents seem to think nothing of selling their daughters to the highest bidders. Imagine you, mother, doing such a thing if you had a daughter.”
Mrs. Hampton turned her face toward the door lest John should detect the colour mounting her temples. But the young man noticed nothing out of the ordinary. He was looking out upon the river, watching the “Eb and Flo,” now not far away. Presently he turned, and pulled out his watch.
“Why, it’s five o’clock!” he exclaimed. “I had no idea it was so late. I have to go to the quarry, mother, on—on business. I want to see someone there.”
“To-night?” Mrs. Hampton asked somewhat surprised, for John seldom went to the quarry, and she could not imagine what business could take him there now.
“Yes, I must go at once. I shall tell you all about it later.”
“But you must have some supper first, dear. Just wait, it will not take me long.”
“Very well, then, mother. While you’re getting it ready I will look after the car. And, say, could you let me have some money to-morrow? I had only a little with me in the city, and besides having the car fixed, I had to get a new tire. I got it charged, promising to send the money as soon as I got home. I guess to-morrow will do, as I have not time to-night.”