“Nothing truer than that,” returned the whittler, brushing the litter from his lap. “Now I’ve no doubt that prig of a doctor, who they say is shining up to Alice, will be disappointed when he finds just how much she’s worth. Let me see. What is his name? Lives up there,” and with his jackknife Mr. Liston pointed toward Terrace Hill.
“The Richards family live there, sir. You mean their son, I presume.”
“Ted, the chap that has traveled and come home so changed. They do say he’s actually taken to visiting all the rheumatic old women in town, applying sticking-plasters to their backs and administering squills to their children, all free gratis.”
Poor doctor! How he fidgeted, moving so often that his tormentor demurely asked him if he were sitting on a thistle or what!
“Does Miss Johnson remain here?” the doctor asked at last, and Mr. Liston replied by telling what he knew of the arrangements.
At the mention of Worthington the doctor looked up quickly. Whom had he known by that name, or where had he heard it before? “Mrs. Worthington, Mrs. Worthington,” he repeated, unpleasant memories of something, he knew not what, rising to his mind. “Is he living in this vicinity?”
“In Elmwood. It’s a widow and her daughter,” Mr. Liston answered, wisely resolving to say nothing of a young man, lest the doctor should feel anxious.
“A widow and her daughter! I must be mistaken in thinking I ever knew any one by that name, though it seems strangely familiar,” said the doctor, and as by this time he had heard all he wished to hear, he arose, and bidding Mr. Liston good-morning walked away in no enviable frame of mind.
Looking at his watch the doctor found that it lacked several hours yet ere the express from Boston was due. But this did not discourage him. He would stay in the fields or anywhere, and turning backward he followed the course of the river winding under the hill until he reached the friendly woods which shielded him from observation. How he hated himself hiding there among the trees, and how he longed for the downward train, which came at last, and when the village bell tolled out its summons to the house of mourning, he sat in a corner of the car returning to New York even faster than he had come.
Gradually the Riverside cottage filled with people assembling to pay the last tribute of respect to the deceased, who during her short stay among them had endeared herself to many hearts.
Slowly, sadly, they bore her to the grave. Reverently they laid her down to rest, and from the carriage window Alice’s white face looked wistfully out as “earth to earth, ashes to ashes,” broke the solemn stillness. Oh, how she longed to lay there, too, beside her mother! How the sunshine, flecking the bright June grass with gleams of gold, seemed to mock her misery as the gravelly earth rattled heavily down upon the coffin lid, and she knew they