“Well,” replied the general, “if the experiment should turn out a failure for any reason, you won’t be very much more at a loss than at present, it seems to me, and, of course, I will do anything I can should you wish me to be still on the lookout for you here.”
“You are exceedingly kind, sir,” said John earnestly, and then was silent for a moment or two. “I will make the venture,” he said at length, “and thank you very much.”
“You are under no special obligations to the Careys, are you?” asked the general.
“No, I think not,” said John with a laugh. “I fancy that their business will go on without me, after a fashion,” and he took his leave.
And so it came about that certain letters were written as mentioned in a previous chapter, and in the evening of a dripping day early in November John Lenox found himself, after a nine hours’ journey, the only traveler who alighted upon the platform of the Homeville station, which was near the end of a small lake and about a mile from the village. As he stood with his bag and umbrella, at a loss what to do, he was accosted by a short and stubby individual with very black eyes and hair and a round face, which would have been smooth except that it had not been shaved for a day or two. “Goin’ t’ the village?” he said.
“Yes,” said John, “that is my intention, but I don’t see any way of getting there.”
“Carry ye over fer ten cents,” said the man. “Carryall’s right back the deepo. Got ’ny baggidge?”
“Two trunks,” said John.
“That’ll make it thirty cents,” said the native. “Where’s your checks? All right; you c’n jest step ‘round an’ git in. Mine’s the only rig that drew over to-night.”
It was a long clumsy affair, with windows at each end and a door in the rear, but open at the sides except for enamel cloth curtains, which were buttoned to the supports that carried a railed roof extending as far forward as the dashboard. The driver’s seat was on a level with those inside. John took a seat by one of the front windows, which was open but protected by the roof.
His luggage having been put on board, they began the journey at a walk, the first part of the road being rough and swampy in places, and undergoing at intervals the sort of repairs which often prevails in rural regions—namely, the deposit of a quantity of broken stone, which is left to be worn smooth by passing vehicles, and is for the most part carefully avoided by such whenever the roadway is broad enough to drive round the improvement. But the worst of the way having been accomplished, the driver took opportunity, speaking sideways over his shoulder, to allay the curiosity which burned within him, “Guess I never seen you before.” John was tired and hungry, and generally low in his mind.
“Very likely not,” was his answer. Mr. Robinson instantly arrived at the determination that the stranger was “stuck up,” but was in no degree cast down thereby.