“I’m glad she’s gone. I can’t be bothered,” was his mental comment as he settled himself more comfortably, feeling a glow of satisfaction when the train began to move, and he knew no more women with their babies would be likely to trouble him.
With that first heavy strain of the machinery Adah lost her balance, and would have fallen headlong but for the friendly hand put forth to save the fall.
“Take my seat, miss. It is not very convenient, but it is better than none. I can find another.”
It was the friendliest voice imaginable which said these words to Adah, and the kind tone in which they were uttered wrung the hot tears at once from her eyes. She did not look up at him. She only knew that some one, a gentleman, had arisen and was bending over her; that a hand, large, white and warm, was laid upon her shoulder, putting her gently into the narrow seat next the saloon; that the same hand took from her and hung above her head the little satchel which was so much in her way, and that the manly voice, so sympathetic in its tone, asked if she would be too warm so near the fire.
She did not know there was a fire. She only knew that she had found a friend, and with the delicious feeling of safety which the knowledge brought, the tension of her nerves gave way, and burying her head on Willie’s face she wept for a moment silently. Then, lifting it up, she tried to thank her benefactor, looking now at him for the first time, and feeling half overawed to find him so tall, so stylish, so exceedingly refined and aristocratic in every look and action.
Irving Stanley was a passenger on that train, bound for Albany. Like Dr. Richards, he had hoped to enjoy a whole seat, even though it were not a very comfortable one, but when he saw how pale and tired Adah was, he arose at once to offer his seat. He heard her sweet, low voice as she tried to thank him. He saw, too, the little, soft, white hands, holding so fast to Willie. Was he her brother or her son? She was young to be his mother. Perhaps she was his sister; but, no, there was no mistaking the mother-love shining out from the brown eyes turned so quickly upon the boy when he moaned, as if in pain, and seemed about to waken.
“He’s been sick most all the way,” she said. “There’s something the matter with his ear, I think, as he complains of that. Do children ever die with the earache?”
Irving Stanley hardly thought they did. At all events, he never heard of such a case, and then, after suggesting a remedy, should the pain return, he left his new acquaintance.
“A part of your seat, sir, if you please,” and Irving’s voice was rather authoritative than otherwise, as he claimed the half of what the doctor was monopolizing.
It was of no use for Dr. Richards to pretend he was asleep, for Irving spoke so like a man who knew what he was doing, that the doctor was compelled to yield, and turning about, recognized his Saratoga acquaintance. The recognition was mutual, and after a few natural remarks, Irving explained how he had given his seat to a lady, who seemed ready to drop with fatigue and anxiety concerning her little child, who was suffering from the earache.