Early on Monday afternoon ’Lina, taking advantage of Hugh’s absence, came over for her dress, finding much fault, and requiring some of the work to be done twice ere it suited her. Without a murmur Adah obeyed, but when the last stitch was taken and the party dress was gone, her overtaxed frame gave way, and Sam himself helped her to her bed, where she lay moaning, with the blinding pain in her head, which increased so fast that she scarcely saw the tempting little supper which Aunt Eunice brought, asking her to eat. Of one thing, however, she was conscious, and that of the dark form bending over her pillow and whispering soothingly the passage which had once brought Heaven to him, “Come unto me, come unto me, and I will give you rest.”
The night had closed in dark and stormy, and the wintry rain beat fiercely against the windows; but for this Sam did not hesitate a moment when at midnight Aunt Eunice, alarmed at Adah’s rapidly increasing fever, asked if he could find his way to Spring Bank.
“In course,” he could, and in a few moments the old, shriveled form was out in the darkness, groping its way over fences, and through the pitfalls, stumbling often, and losing his hat past recovery, so that the snowy hair was dripping wet when at last Spring Bank was reached and he stood upon the porch.
In much alarm Hugh dressed himself and hastened to the cottage. But Adah did not know him and only talked of dresses and parties, and George, whom she begged to come back and restore her good name.
There was a bright light in the sitting-room, and through the half-closed shutters Hugh caught glimpses of a blazing fire. ’Lina had evidently come home, and half wishing she had stayed a little longer, Hugh entered the room.
Poor ’Lina! The party had proved a most unsatisfactory affair. She had not made the sensation she expected to make. Harney had scarcely noticed her at all, having neither eyes nor ears for any one save Ellen Tiffton, who surely must have told that Hugh was not invited, for, in no other way could ’Lina account for the remark she overheard touching her want of heart in failing to resent a brother’s insult. In the most unenviable of moods, ’Lina left at a comparatively early hour. She bade Caesar drive carefully, as it was very dark, and the rain was almost blinding, so rapidly it fell.
“Ye-es, mis-s, Caes—he—done been to party fore now. Git ’long dar, Sorrel,” hiccoughed the negro, who, in Colonel Tiffton’s kitchen had indulged rather too freely to insure the safety of his mistress.
Still the horses knew the road, and kept it until they left the main highway and turned into the fields. Even then they would probably have made their way in safety, had not their drunken driver persisted in turning them into a road which led directly through the deepest part of the creek, swollen now by the melted snow and the vast amount of rain which had fallen since the sunsetting. Not knowing they were wrong, ’Lina did not dream of danger until she heard Caesar’s cry of “Who’a dar, Sorrel. Git up, Henry. Dat’s nothin’ but de creek,” while a violent lurch of the carriage sent her to the opposite side from where she had been sitting.