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Francis Lynde Stetson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about The Quickening.

“Go in, child; go in,” was the fatherly command.  “I’ve got to stop to take Morelock in.  I promised to carry him to the station.”

“But Nancy?” she questioned anxiously.

“She will live,” said the doctor briefly.  And then he added with a frown:  “But the child may not—­which would doubtless be the best thing possible for all concerned.  I’m afraid the woman is incorrigible.”  Then the professional part of him came to its own again:  “You’ll have to send somebody up there to relieve Eliza.  Care is all that is needed now, but it mustn’t be stinted.”

There were tears standing in the slate-blue eyes of the listener, but Doctor Williams did not see them.  If he had, he would not have understood; neither would he have plumbed the depths of misery in that whispered saying of Ardea’s as she turned and fled to her room:  “O Tom! how could you! how could you!”

XXVII

SWEPT AND GARNISHED

Thomas Jefferson Gordon, Bachelor of Science, and one of the six prize-men in his class, was expected home on the first day of July; and it was remarked as a coincidence by the curious that Deer Trace manor-house was closed for the summer no more than a week before the return of the Gordon black sheep.

That Tom was a black sheep, a hopeless and incorrigible social iconoclast, was no longer a matter of doubt in the minds of any.  Something may be forgiven a promising young man who has been unhappy enough, or imprudent enough, to begin to make history for himself in the irresponsible ’teens; but also the act of oblivion may be repealed.  When it became noised about that there were two children instead of one in the old dog-keeper’s cabin in the glen, Mountain View Avenue was justly indignant, and even the lenient Gordonians scowled and shook their heads at the mention of the young boss’s name.  All the world loves a lover, as in just measure it despises a libertine; and there were fathers of daughters among the miner and foundry folk of the town.

On the lips of the transplanted urbanites of the hill houses comment was less elemental, but no less condemnatory.  It was no wonder the Dabneys had closed their house and had gone to Crestcliffe Inn to save Ardea the humiliation of having to meet Tom before she was safely married to Vincent Farley.  It was what any self-respecting young woman would wish under like trying conditions.  The country colony approved; likewise, it commended Miss Dabney’s foresight and prudence in causing the Bryerson woman and her two children to disappear from the cabin in the glen; though Mrs. Vancourt Henniker, in secret session over the tea-cups with the elder Miss Harrison, voiced her surprise that Ardea could continue to be charitable in that quarter.

“It is quite beyond me,” was the matron’s thin-lipped phrasing of it.  “When one remembers that this wretched mountain girl has been Ardea’s understudy from the very beginning—­faugh! it is simply disgusting!  I should think Ardea would never want to see or hear of her again.”

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