“Good by, Miss May. I declare, if you don’t hop about through the snow like a robin; there—she’s gone. Now, I should like to know what business old Stillinghast’s niece has to be doing such work as this,—the nipping old miser; and I’d like to know what she does with the money.”
And so should we; therefore, we will leave Mrs. Tabb to her cogitations, follow May, and find out.
Fearing she would not have time to accomplish all that she desired, May stepped into a jewelry establishment to ascertain the hour; but it was only half-past twelve, and, with a light heart and fleet step, she treaded her way through the hurrying and busy crowds, crossed B—— Street, then in the height of its din, uproar, and traffic, and soon found herself among the dark, narrow thoroughfares, and large gloomy warehouses of the lower part of the city. Turning a corner, she looked up and down, but finding herself at fault, hurried into another street, where she encountered quite a procession of merchants, old, young, and middle-aged, on their way to the Exchange, to learn the latest European news, which a steamer, just arrived, had brought in. Many passed her with a glance of surprise; some laughed, and gazed into her face with looks of insolent curiosity: while others regarded her with unconcern and indifference. “It is strange,” thought May, shrinking back into a doorway, “I was so sure of the way; but it will never do to stand here, yet how am I to get on? Sir,” she said to a benevolent-looking old gentleman, whose white hairs and respectable appearance were a guarantee of protection to her, “will you be so obliging as to direct me to the wood-yard of Carter & Co. I believe I have lost my way.”
“Certainly, my dear,” said the old man, with a pleasant smile; “I am on my way to the Exchange, and shall be obliged to go right by it, so if you will walk by my side, or take my arm, I will leave you at their office door.”
“Thank you,” replied May, as with a feeling of safety she laid her little hand on the fatherly arm, so kindly offered. Some ten minutes’ walk brought them to the office of Carter & Co., and while May stood an instant, with her veil lifted, to thank her conductor, she saw a face approaching through the crowd—then lost, then visible again, which blanched her cheeks by its sudden appearance. The cold, stern eyes were turned another way, yet she felt that they had recognized her; but it passed on, without seeming to notice her. “Uncle Stillinghast!” thought May, while her little fluttering heart felt an icy chill pass over it; “what will Uncle Stillinghast think? Oh, how stupid I was, not to wait until they all got by, then look for the place myself. Oh dear, dear! I hope he did not see me.”
“What will you have, ma’am?” asked the clerk, coming forward, more anxious to shut out the cold air from his comfortable snuggery than to effect sales.