“Where, pray?” asked Mrs. Rayner, turning quickly upon them.
Mr. Royce hesitated, and—with shame be it said—allowed Miss Travers to meet the question:
“At Mr. Hayne’s, Kate.”
There was the same awkward silence that always followed the mention of Hayne’s name. Mrs. Rayner looked annoyed. It was evident that she wanted more information,—wanted to ask, but was restrained. Royce determined to be outspoken.
“Several of us have got quite in the way of stopping there on our way from afternoon stables,” he said, very quietly. “Mr. Hayne has his piano now, and has nearly recovered the full use of his eyes. He plays well.”
Mrs. Rayner turned about once more, and, without saying so much as good-night, went heavily up-stairs, leaving her escort to share with Mr. Royce such welcome as the captain was ready to accord them. If forbidden to talk on the subject nearest her heart, she would not speak at all. She would have banged her door, but that would have waked baby. It stung her to the quick to know that the cavalry officers were daily visitors at Mr. Hayne’s quarters. It was little comfort to know that the infantry officers did not go, for she and they both knew that, except Major Waldron, no one of their number was welcome under that roof unless he would voluntarily come forward and say, “I believe you innocent.” She felt that but for the stand made by Hayne himself most of their number would have received him into comradeship again by this time, and she could hardly sleep that night from thinking over what she had heard.
But could she have seen the figure that was slinking in the snow at the rear door of Hayne’s quarters that very evening, peering into the lighted rooms, and at last, after many an irresolute turn, knocking timidly for admission and then hiding behind the corner of the shed until Sam came and poked his pig-tailed head out into the wintry darkness in wondering effort to find the visitor, she would not have slept at all.
It was poor Clancy, once more mooning about the garrison and up to his old tricks. Clancy had been drinking; but he wanted to know, “could he spake with the lieutenant?”
“I have been reading over your letter of Thursday last, dear Steven,” wrote Miss Travers, “and there is much that I feel I ought to answer. You and Kate are very much of a mind about the ‘temptations’ with which I am surrounded; but you are far more imaginative than she is, and far more courteous. There is so much about your letter that touches me deeply that I want to be frank and fair in my reply. I have been dancing all this evening, was out at dinner before that, and have made many calls this afternoon; but, tired as I am, my letter must be written, for to-morrow will be but the repetition of to-day. Is it that I am cold and utterly heartless that I can sit and write so calmly in reply to your fervent and appealing