So I loitered with my cigar after dinner, and took a nap on the sofa in my room. I was piqued, and did not care to conceal it. As the clock struck five I bethought me it was time to betake me to the Sloman cottage. A sound of wheels and a carriage turning brought me to the window. The two young ladies were driving off in Fanny Meyrick’s phaeton, having evidently come to the hotel and waited while it was being made ready.
“Pique for pique! Serves me right, I suppose.”
Evening found me at the Sloman cottage, waiting with Mrs. Sloman by the tea-table. Why do I always remember her, sitting monumental by the silver urn?
“The girls are very late to-night.”
“Yes.” I was beginning to be uneasy. It was nearing train-time again.
“Such lovely moonlight, I suppose, has tempted them, or they may be staying at Foxcroft to tea.”
Indeed? I looked at my watch: I had ten minutes.
A sound of wheels: the phaeton drove up.
“Oh, Charlie,” said Bessie as she sprang out, “you bad boy! you’ll miss your train again. Fanny here will drive you to the hotel. Jump in, quick!”
And as the moonlight shone full on her face I looked inquiringly into her eyes.
“The letter,” I said, “for Judge Hubbard?” hoping that she would go to the house for it, and then I could follow her for a word.
“Oh! I had almost forgotten. Here it is;” and she drew it from her pocket and held it out to me in her gloved hand. I pressed the hand to my lips, riding-glove and all, and sprang in beside Fanny, who was with some difficulty making her horse stand still.
“Good-bye!” from the little figure at the gate. “Don’t forget, Fanny, to-morrow at ten;” and we were off.
By the wretched kerosene lamp of the car, going down, I read my letter, for it was for me: “I will not go to Europe, and I forbid you to mention it again. I shall never, never forget that I proposed it, and that you—accepted it. Come up to Lenox once more before you go.”
This was written in ink, and was sealed. It was the morning’s note. But across the envelope these words were written in pencil: “Go to Europe with Fanny Meyrick, and come up to Lenox, both of you, when you return.”
I had a busy week of it in New York—copying out instructions, taking notes of marriages and intermarriages in 1690, and writing each day a long, pleading letter to Bessie. There was a double strain upon me: all the arrangements for my client’s claims, and in an undercurrent the arguments to overcome Bessie’s decision, went on in my brain side by side.
I could not, I wrote to her, make the voyage without her. It would be the shipwreck of all my new hopes. It was cruel in her to have raised such hopes unless she was willing to fulfill them: it made the separation all the harder. I could not and would not give up the plan. “I have engaged our passage in the Wednesday’s steamer: say yes, dear child, and I will write to Dr. Wilder from here.”