“My boy, you don’t get on for worrying about something. I don’t pretend to second sight, but I b’lieve I’ve got on the right track. It’s my pesky bill. I know it’s big, for I’ve been here every day this going on three months, but I’ll cut it down to the last cent, see if I don’t; and if it’s an object, I’ll wait ten years, so chirk up a bit,” and wringing his hand, the well-meaning doctor hurried off, leaving Hugh alone with his sad thoughts.
It was not so much the bill which troubled him—it was Rocket, and the feeling sure that he should never own him again. Heretofore there had at intervals been a faint hope in his heart that by some means he might redeem him, but that was over now. The sale of Colonel Tiffton’s effects occurred upon the morrow, and money stood waiting for Rocket, while Harney, with a fiendish, revengeful disposition, which was determined to gain its point at last, had been heard to say that “rather than lose the horse or let it pass back to its former owner, he believed he would give a thousand dollars.”
That settled it, Hugh had no thousand dollars; he had not even ten, and with a moan of pain, he tried to shut out Rocket from his mind. And this it was which kept him so nervous and restless, dreading yet longing for the eventful day, and feeling glad when at last he could say—
“To-morrow is the sale.”
The next morning was cold and chilly, making Hugh shiver as he waited for the footstep which he had learned to know so well. She had not come to see him the previous night, and he waited for her anxiously now, feeling sure that on this day of all others she would stay with him. How, then, was he disappointed when at last she came to him, cloaked and hooded as for a ride.
“Are you going out to-day again?” he asked, his tone that of a pleading child.
“It does not seem right to leave you alone, I know,” she said, “but poor Ellen needs me sadly, and I promised to be there.”
“At Mosside, with all those rough men, oh, Alice, don’t go!” and Hugh grasped the little hand.
“It may appear unladylike, I know, but I think it right to stay by Ellen. By the way,” and Alice spoke rapidly now, “the doctor says you’ll never get well so long as you keep so closely in the house. You are able to ride, and I promised to coax you out to-morrow, if the day is fine. I shall not take a refusal,” she continued, as he shook his head. “I am getting quite vain of my horsemanship. I shall feel quite proud of your escort, even if I have to tease for it; so, remember, you are mine for a part of to-morrow.”