“Where was he? What did that assemblage mean? What did his strange experiences mean?” he asked himself. He stood there, his hands tied, his eye wandering from face to face.
Within a few minutes Belton entered and the assemblage broke forth into cheers. Bernard had alighted on a platform directly facing the assemblage. Belton walked to his side and spread out his hands and said: “Behold the Chiefs of the conspirators whom you would not betray. Behold me, whom they have called the arch conspirator. You have nobly stood the test. Come, your reward awaits you. You are worthy of it and I assure you it is worthy of you.”
Bernard had not been killed in his fall because of a parachute which had been so arranged, unknown to him, to save him in the descent.
Belton, smiling, locked his arm in Bernard’s and said: “Come with me. I will explain it all to you.” They walked down the aisle together.
At the sight of these two most conspicuous representatives of all that was good and great in the race, moving down the aisle side by side, the audience began to cheer wildly and a band of musicians began playing “Hail to the Chief.”
All of this was inexplicable to Bernard; but he was soon to learn what and how much it meant. Belton escorted him across the campus to the small but remarkably pretty white cottage with green vines clinging to trellis work all around it. Here they entered. The rooms were furnished with rare and antique furniture and were so tastefully arranged as to astonish and please even Bernard, who had been accustomed from childhood to choice, luxuriant magnificence.
They entered a side room, overlooking a beautiful lawn which could boast of lovely flowers and rose bushes scattered here and there. They sat down, facing each other. Bernard was a bundle of expectancy. He had passed through enough to make him so.
Belton said: “Bernard, I am now about to put the keeping of the property, the liberty, and the very lives of over seven million five hundred thousand people into your hands.”
Bernard opened his eyes wide in astonishment and waited for Belton to further explain himself.
“Realize,” said Belton, “that I am carefully weighing each remark I make and am fully conscious of how much my statement involves.” Bernard bowed his head in solemn thought. Viola’s recent death, the blood-curdling experiences of the day, and now Belton’s impressive words all united to make that a sober moment with him; as sober as any that he had ever had in his life. He looked Belton in the face and said: “May revengeful lightning transfix me with her fiercest bolts; may hell’s most fiery pillars roll in fury around me; may I be despised of man and forgotten of my God, if I ever knowingly, in the slightest way, do aught to betray this solemn, this most sacred trust.”