“No, her body has not been found yet, though men are searching for it all the time, so I understand,” the visitor explained.
“Do her parents, I mean the Randalls, feel very badly about her death, Hettie?”
“In a way I suppose they do. But I have heard that they are more angry than anything else. Their minds were so set upon the girl marrying that Lord’s son that they are greatly disappointed. I admire her for what she did. I wish I had done the same myself before I married Gabe Grimsby. My life has been a living death ever since. But, there, I have talked too long. I must hurry away home. I hope Gabe will never know that I have been here. He must think that he lost that money.”
“You are not going to walk home, Hettie,” Mrs. Hampton told her. “John will be back shortly, and he will take you in his car. It is too long a walk.”
“But I must. You don’t understand. What if Gabe comes home and finds me gone?”
“Where is he now, did you say?”
“In the city, so I believe.”
“Very well, then, most likely he will stay there a few hours. If he comes, it will be on the ‘Oconee,’ and John can get you home before that. So you must stay. Come, let me take off your hat.”
After considerable persuasion, Mrs. Hampton induced her visitor to remain. Then she went into the kitchen and placed the supper upon the table. She could not understand what was keeping John and Jess so long. Anyway, she and Hettie would have their tea, and the young people could have theirs by themselves. She believed that Hettie might feel somewhat embarrassed in the presence of Jess, owing to her shabby appearance.
They had just finished their supper, and were about to rise from the table when John entered the room. At the first sight of him Mrs. Hampton gave a cry of fright and rose to her feet. His forehead was marked with blood, and the face of the girl following him was as white as death.
EBEN COMES ASHORE
As John and Jess made their way slowly down to the shore their hearts were free and happy. They were together, and that was all sufficient. Everything in nature was in harmony with their feelings. Birds chirped and flitted about them; butterflies zigzagged here and there, and bees hummed industriously among the flowers. The air was balmy, and a gentle breeze drifted in from the west. Jess stopped and looked out upon the river with kindling eyes.
“Oh, what a glorious day,” she remarked. “It is so good to be in a place such as this.”
“I am glad you like it,” John replied, as he glanced at the bright face by his side. “I wish you could stay here always.”
“So do I. The country suits me better than anywhere else.”
“You would miss the city life, would you not, if you lived here all the year?”