In the office below, Dr. Richards, who had purposely stopped for the day in Albany, smoked his expensive cigars, ordered oysters and wine sent to his room—the very one adjoining Adah’s—made two or three calls, wrote an explanatory note to ’Lina—feeling half tempted to leave out the “Dear,” with which he felt constrained to preface it—thought again of Lily—poor Lily, as he always called her—thought once of the strange woman and the little boy, in whom Irving Stanley had been so interested, wondered where they were going, and who it was the boy looked a little like—thought somehow of Anna in connection with that boy; and then, late in the afternoon, sauntered down to the Boston depot, and took his seat in the car, which, at about ten o’clock that night would deposit him at Snowdon. There were no “squalling brats” to disturb him, for Adah, unconscious of his proximity, was in the rear car—pale, weary, and nervous with the dread which her near approach to Terrace Hill inspired. What, if after all, Anna, should not want her? And this was a possible contingency, notwithstanding Alice had been no sanguine.
Darkly the December night closed in, and still the train kept on, until at last Danville was reached, and she must alight, as the express did not stop again until it reached Worcester. With a chill sense of loneliness, and a vague, confused wish for the one cheering voice which had greeted her ear since leaving Spring Bank, Adah stood upon the snow-covered platform, holding Willie in her arms, and pointing out her trunk to the civil baggage man, who, in answer to her inquiries as to the best means of reaching Terrace Hill, replied: “You can’t go there to-night; it is too late. You’ll have to stay in the tavern kept right over the depot, though if you’d kept on the train there might have been a chance, for I see the young Dr. Richards aboard; and as he didn’t get out, I guess he’s coaxed or hired the conductor to leave him at Snowdon.”
The baggage man was right in his conjecture, for the doctor had persuaded the polite conductor, whom he knew personally, to stop the train at Snowdon; and while Adah, shivering with cold, found her way up the narrow stairs into the rather comfortless quarters where she must spend the night, the doctor was kicking the snow from his feet and talking to Jim, the coachman from Terrace Hill.
It was a sad morning at Spring Bank, that morning of Adah’s leaving, and many a tear was shed as the last good-by was spoken. Mrs. Worthington, Alice and Hugh accompanied Adah to Frankfort, and Alice had never seemed in better spirits than on that winter’s morning. She would be gay; it was a duty she owed Hugh, and Adah, too. So she talked and laughed as if there was no load upon her heart, and no cloud on Adah’s spirits. Outwardly Mrs. Worthington suffered most, wondering why she should cling so to