The time which hung so heavily upon her hands was flying rapidly, and at last only one week intervened ere the eventful day. Hugh had gone down to Frankfort on some errand for ’Lina, and as he passed the penitentiary, he thought, as he always did now, of the convict Sullivan. Was he there still, and if so, why could he not see him face to face, and question him of the past?
Three hours later and Hugh Worthington was confronting the famous negro stealer, who gave him back glance for glance, and stood as unflinchingly before him as if there were upon his conscience no Adah Hastings, who, by his connivance, had been so terribly wronged. At the mention of her name, however, his bold assurance left him. There was a quivering of the muscles about his mouth, and his whole manner was indicative of strong emotion as he asked if Hugh knew aught of her since that fatal night, and then listened while Hugh told what he knew and where she had gone.
“To Terrace Hill—into the Richards family; this was no chance arrangement?” and the convict spoke huskily, asking next for the doctor; and still Hugh did not suspect the magnitude of the plot, and answered by telling how Dr. Richards was coming soon to make ’Lina his wife.
Hugh was not looking at his companion then, or he would have been appalled by the livid, fearful expression which for an instant flashed on his face. Accustomed to conceal his feelings, the convict did so now; and asked calmly when the wedding would take place. Hugh named the day and hour, and then asked if Sullivan knew aught of Adah’s husband.
“Yes, everything,” and the convict said vehemently, “Young man, I cannot tell you now—there is not time, but wait a little and you shall know the whole. You are interested in Adah. The wedding, you say, is Thursday night. My time expires on Tuesday. Don’t think me impudent if I ask a list of the invited guests. Will you give it to me?”
Surely there was some deep mystery here, and he made no reply till Sullivan again asked for the list. The original paper on which Hugh had first written the few names of those to be invited chanced to be in his vest pocket, and mechanically taking it out he passed it to the convict, who expressed his thanks, and added: “Don’t say that you have seen me, or that I shall be present at that wedding. I shall only come for good, but I shall surely be there.”
THE DAY OF THE WEDDING
Dr. Richards had arrived at Spring Bank. Hugh was the first to meet him. For a moment he scrutinized the stranger’s face earnestly, and then asked if they had never met before.
“Not to my knowledge,” the doctor replied in perfect good faith, for he had no suspicion that the man eying him so closely was the one witness of his marriage with Adah, the stranger whom he scarcely noticed, and whose name he had forgotten.