Banneker cursed Judge Enderby for a fool of rigid methods. It would be his own fault. Let him go to his destruction, then. He, Banneker, had done all that was possible. He sank into a sort of lethargy, brooding over the fateful obstacles which had obstructed him in his self-sacrificing pursuit of the right, as against his own dearest interests. He might telegraph Io; but to what purpose? An idea flashed upon him; why not telegraph Enderby at his home? He composed message after message; tore them up as saying too much or too little; ultimately devised one that seemed to be sufficient, and hurried to his car, to take it in to the local operator. When he reached the village office it was closed. He hurried to the home of the operator. Out. After two false trails, he located the man at a church sociable, and got the message off. It was then nearly ten o’clock. He had wasted precious moments in brooding. Well, he had done all and more than could have been asked of him, let the event be what it would.
His night was a succession of forebodings, dreamed or half-wakeful. Spent and dispirited, he rose at an hour quite out of accord with the habits of The Retreat, sped his car to New York, and put his inquiry to Judge Enderby’s man.
Yes; the telegram had arrived. In time? No; it was delivered twenty minutes after the Judge had left for his train.
Sun-lulled into immobility, the desert around the lonely little station of Manzanita smouldered and slumbered. Nothing was visibly changed from five years before, when Banneker left, except that another agent, a disillusioned-appearing young man with a corn-colored mustache, came forth to meet the slow noon local, chuffing pantingly in under a bad head of alkali-water steam. A lone passenger, obviously Eastern in mien and garb, disembarked, and was welcomed by a dark, beautiful, harassed-looking girl who had just ridden in on a lathered pony. The agent, a hopeful soul, ambled within earshot.
“How is she?” he heard the man say, with the intensity of a single thought, as the girl took his hand. Her reply came, encouragingly.
“As brave as ever. Stronger, a little, I think.”
“And she—the eyes?”
“She will be able to see you; but not clearly.”
“How long—” began the man, but his voice broke. He shook in the bitter heat as if from some inner and deadly chill.
“Nobody can tell. She hoards her sight.”
“To see me?” he cried eagerly. “Have you told her?”
“Is that wise?” he questioned. “The shock—”
“I think that she suspects; she senses your coming. Her face has the rapt expression that I have seen only when she plays. Has had since you started. Yet there is no possible way in which she could have learned.”
“That is very wonderful,” said the stranger, in a hushed voice. Then, hesitantly, “What shall I do, Io?”