It was growing very late, and the clock in the adjoining room struck one ere Alice bade Hugh good-night, saying to him:
“No one must know of this. We’ll be just the same to each other as we have been.”
“Yes, just the same, if that can be,” Hugh answered, and so they parted.
The night express from Rochester to Albany was crowded. Every car was full, or seemed to be, and the clamorous bell rang out its first summons for all to get on board, just as a pale, frightened-looking woman, bearing in her slender arms a sleeping boy, whose little face showed signs of suffering, stepped upon the platform of the rear carriage, and looked wistfully in at the long, dark line of passengers filling every seat. Wearily, anxiously, she had passed through every car, beginning at the first, her tired eyes scanning each occupant, as if mutely begging some one to have pity on her ere exhausted nature failed entirely, and she sank fainting to the floor. None had heeded that silent appeal, though many had marked the pallor of her girlish face, and the extreme beauty of the baby features nestling in her bosom. She could not hold out much longer, and when she reached the last car and saw that, too, was full, the delicate chin quivered perceptibly, and a tear glistened in the long eyelashes, sweeping the colorless cheek.
Slowly she passed up the aisle until she came to where there was indeed a vacant seat, only a gentleman’s shawl was piled upon it, and he, the gentleman, looking so unconcernedly from the window, and apparently oblivious of her close proximity to him, would not surely object to her sitting there. How the tired woman did wish he would turn toward her, would give some token that she was welcome, would remove his heavy plaid, and say to her courteously, “Sit here, madam.” But no, his eyes were only intent on the darkness without; he had no care for her, Adah, though he knew she was there.
The oil lamp was burning dimly, and the girl’s white face was lost in the shadow, when the young man first glanced at her, so he had no suspicion of the truth, though a most indefinable sensation crept over him as he heard the timid footfall, and the rustling of female garments as Adah Hastings drew near with her boy in her arms. He knew she stopped before him; he knew, too, why she stopped, and for a brief instant his better nature bade him be a man and offer her what he knew she wanted. But only for an instant, and then his selfishness prevailed. “He would not seem to see her, he would not be bothered by a woman with a brat. If there was anything he hated it was a woman traveling with a young one, a squalling young one. They would never catch his wife, when he had one, doing a thing so unladylike. A car was no place for children. He hated the whole of them.”
Adah passed on, her weary sigh falling distinctly on his ear, but falling to awaken a feeling of remorse for his unmanly conduct.