Nevertheless the whole affair was unbearably vexatious and at last he felt that he could endure it no longer.
“I’m a fool,” he said, in a spirit of annoyance that came so close to anger that it led to an utter loss of patience. “I’ll take the train for Aunt Mary’s to-day, and straighten out that mess in short order.”
It was Saturday, and he arranged to leave by the noon train. He laid in a heavy supply of bribes for his aged relative and of reading matter for himself, and went to the station with a heart divided ’twixt many different emotions. It was an unconscionably long ride, but he did get there safely about ten o’clock.
It was a pleasant night—not too cold—even suggestive of some lingering Indian summer intentions on the part of Jack’s namesake. The young man thought that he would walk out to his childhood’s home, and his decision was aided by the discovery that there was no other way to get there.
So he took his suit-case in his hand and set off with a stride that covered the intervening miles in short order and brought him, almost before he knew it, to where he could see Lucinda’s light in the dining-room and her pug-nosed profile outlined upon the drawn shade. Everyone else was evidently abed, and as he looked, she, too, arose and took up the lamp. He hurried his steps so that she might let him in before she went upstairs, but in the same instant the light went out and with its withdrawal he perceived a little figure sitting alone upon the doorstep.
His heart gave a tremendous leap—but not with fright—and he made three rapid steps and spoke a name.
She lifted up her head. Of course it was Janice, and although she had been weeping, her eyes were as beautiful as ever.
“Oh, Jack!” she exclaimed, and happy the man who hears his name called in such a tone—even if it be only for once in the whole course of his existence.
He pitched his suit-case down upon the grass and took the maid in his arms.
What did anything matter; they both were lonely and both needed comforting.
He kissed her not once but twenty times,—not twenty times but a hundred.
“It’s abominable you’re being here,” he said at last.
“I am very, very tired,” she confessed.
“And you’ll go back to the city when I go?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, doubtfully. “I don’t know whether she’ll let me.”
“To-morrow I will beard Aunt Mary in her den,” he declared; “now let’s go in and—and—”
The hundred and first!
Chapter Twenty-Four — Two Are Company
To the large square room where he had slept (on and off) during a goodly portion of his boyhood life, Jack went to repose from his journey, there to meditate the situation which he had come to comfort, and to try and devise a way to better its existing circumstances.