“No. I never was two-faced,” replied Rose, with a weary shake of the tangled curls. “I won’t show yellow now.”
Lane turned away blindly. It was terrible to think of her dying bitter, unrepentant.
“Oh! if I could hope!” murmured Rose. “To see my mother!”
Then there were shuffling steps outside and voices. The door was opened by Mrs. O’Brien. Old Clymer crossed the threshold. He was sober, haggard, grieved. He had been told. No one spoke as he approached Rose’s bedside.
“Lass—lass—” he began, brokenly.
Then he sought from the men confirmation of a fear borne by a glance into Rose’s white still face. And silence answered him.
“Lass, if you’re goin’—tell me—who was to blame?”
“No one—but myself—father,” she replied.
“Tell me, who was to blame?” demanded Clymer, harshly.
Her pale lips curled a little bitterly, and suddenly, as a change seemed to come over her, they set that way. She looked up at Lane with a different light in her eyes. Then she turned her face to the wall.
Lane left the room, to pace up and down the hall outside. His thoughts seemed deadlocked. By and bye, Doctor Bronson came out with Doctor Wallace, who was evidently leaving.
“She is unconscious and dying,” said Doctor Bronson to Lane, and then bade the minister good-bye and returned to the room.
“How strangely bitter she was!” exclaimed Doctor Wallace to Lane. “Yet she seemed such a frank honest girl. Her attitude was an acknowledgment of sin. But she did not believe it herself. She seemed to have a terrible resentment. Not against one man, or many persons, but perhaps life itself! She was beyond me. A modern girl—a pagan! But such a brave, loyal, generous little soul. What a pity! I find my religion at fault because it can accomplish nothing these days.”
Lane took Rose’s death to heart as if she had been his sister or sweetheart. The exhaustion and exposure he was subjected to during these days dragged him farther down.
One bitter February day he took refuge in the railroad station. The old negro porter who had known Lane since he was a boy evidently read the truth of Lane’s condition, for he contrived to lead him back into a corner of the irregular room. It was an obscure corner, rather hidden by a supporting pillar and the projecting end of a news counter. This seat was directly over the furnace in the cellar. Several pipes, too hot to touch, came up through the floor. It was the warmest place Lane had found, and he sat there for hours. He could see the people passing to and fro through the station, arriving and leaving on trains, without himself being seen. That afternoon was good for him, and he went back next day.