“That is just what I do fear,” Mrs. Tobin replied. “Sam’l was always a little soft about women, and there are too many bad hussies in the city. When a man is away from home as much as he is, you can never be sure what he’s up to. Why, even now he might have one of them brazen creatures on board. No, there’s no fool like an old fool when it comes to women.”
“But Eben’s with him, isn’t he? The captain wouldn’t surely cut up any capers with his son on board.”
“Eben! H’m! Little good would he be. He lives in the clouds when he isn’t eating and sleeping. He wouldn’t notice anything wrong with a dozen hussies on board. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that boy.”
“You are certainly worried about your family, Mrs. Tobin.”
“Indeed I am, and no one knows it as well as I do. I’m not even certain of Flo. She has notions of her own which don’t at all agree with my way of thinking.”
John smiled broadly as he bade the woman good-bye, and left the house. Mrs. Tobin amused him greatly, and he was thinking of the lively scene that would take place when the captain came home.
MOKE THAN A DREAM
Very little sleep came to Mrs. Hampton that night. The disturbing events of the day still agitated her mind, giving her much anxiety. Grimsby’s visit was the principal cause, for she felt that she could not trust the man, notwithstanding the money he had received and his promise of secrecy. Was her child alive? she asked herself over and over again. Her heart called out for even the slightest knowledge of the one she had bartered for money. Money! The thought stung and almost maddened her. She had given her own flesh and blood for money, and her punishment was rapidly increasing upon her. Her sin had followed her through the years, and had now suddenly enmeshed her. The steady tick of the clock seemed like an accusing voice to her hot brain, and the gentle motion of the blind at the open window annoyed her. She fancied it knew of her guilt and was mocking her. She was learning, as others have learned, that to the conscience-stricken heart and mind all things, even the inanimate, are banded together in a conspiracy of mockery and revenge.
She wondered, too, about John’s strange behaviour. What was his special call to the quarry, and what was the secret he was keeping from her? He had never acted in such a manner before, and he only stayed from home at night on an occasional visit to the city. Had he fallen in with evil companions? She banished this idea, however, when she recalled how he had told her that he had a surprise in store for her, and that it was a pleasant one. Try as she might, she could not imagine what that might be, for the thought of a woman never once entered her mind. Not for an instant could she imagine John being in love, so engrossed was he with the affairs of the farm and the mine.