“Of course—the villain! And if I had been so unfortunate as not to have had a watch to hand over, he would have murdered and robbed me of what I might have of any value. The murderous rascal!—Ah! how are you, Loring? You here!” advancing and shaking Fred’s hand cordially, and continuing, “Show me that cut-throat! Which is he?”
The expression on Fred’s countenance may possibly be imagined, but I cannot describe it. And when, in answer to the call, “Prisoner, stand up,” he arose, his friend’s—the plaintiff’s—surprise was stupendous for a moment; and then breaking into a hearty chuckle, he exclaimed:
“Of course now I know it was a mistake.”
The dignity of the place was forgotten by all then, and never was such a shout of laughter heard before within those walls. But Fred could not join in it, to save him. He had too lately stood in the place of an individual bearing quite too many opprobrious epithets, to feel very light-hearted.
He returned home to relieve Nellie’s mind, telling her it was all settled—she need have now no more anxiety about it. But he never told her how it was settled. One thing, however, she noticed—he was not so fond of his revolver’s companionship as he used to be. And once she heard him say:
“If the law was more strenuous with regard to the carrying of concealed weapons, there would be fewer criminal indictments.”
Peeping through the leaves of the vine-covered bower, and watching eagerly the path through the woods, was a beautiful little maiden. An anxious look was in her deep blue eyes, as pressing her hands over her heart, as if to stop its heavy beating, she said:
“Oh, why does he not come? How long a time! If he had good news, I know he would come quicker. Oh, I have not a mite of hope!”
The pretty lips quivered then, and she stepped back, and sank on the mossy seat.
A moment after a sound, slight as the dropping of leaves, caught her ear. She sprang up, and for an instant a bright light shone in her eyes, but quickly died away, as the slow, heavy step came nearer, bringing to sight a tall, noble-looking young man, whose face, if less stern, would have been very handsome.
Without speaking, he clasped her outstretched hand and drew her within his arms, shaking his head sadly.
“I felt it was so, or you would have come sooner,” the maiden said, resting her head against his shoulder.
“I had little, if any, hope, Susie. I went this last time because you bade me to.”
“What did father say, Frank?”
“Over and over the same old story of having, since your babyhood, intended you to be the wife of his friend’s son. Oh, if I were wealthier, it would be all right, I know,” Frank said, his dark eyes flashing.
“Don’t talk so, dear, please. I do not like to hear you impute a wrong motive to my father. I will never, never listen for one moment to any words of love from George Forrester, or any other man but you, Frank. So you may be sure, if papa will not let me marry you, I will never marry at all,” Susie said, her eyes full of tears, looking up to his.