“We go tonight?—I shall need clothing.”
“Of course; that was what this money was advanced for, to outfit us. How much will you need?”
She thought a moment, a little line of perplexity between her eyes, finally naming a sum which surprised me.
“Not more than that?” I exclaimed. “Surely that is not enough.”
“Oh, yes, it is,” laughing. “There will be no dressing. All I need do is appear neat.”
We sat there and talked it over, deciding exactly our course of action. At nine o’clock I left her, hunted up the nearest bank and got change for my bill. Then I gave her the amount asked, and we separated, to meet again late that afternoon at the depot. I felt no doubt as to her being there on time. My day was a busy one, as I had to visit my boarding house, buy needful clothing, and arrange for transportation. At the moment specified I called up Vail on the phone, and he responded instantly, the very tone of his voice evidencing the relief he felt at hearing from me.
“Began to think I had skipped with the thousand?” I asked. “Well, I have n’t, for the other nine looks too good.”
“You are going, then?”
“Sure; all packed, and transportation bought. Best of it is I ’ve found the right woman to go along with me.
“Good; I didn’t know what to do about that—the one I had in mind is out of town. Who is she?”
“Oh, never mind her name; she is all right, a friend of mine.”
“Not likely anyone I know. Where are you?”
I told him, and he agreed to send over certain papers to me by messenger. These arrived promptly, and I studied them carefully until nearly train time, getting all the facts firmly implanted in my mind. Then, my heart beating somewhat faster than usual, I took cab to the depot, more deeply interested I fear in again meeting Mrs. Bernard, than in the adventure itself. We met beneath the grim shadow of the train shed.
AT THE PLANTATION
The events of the day had changed her greatly. At first, as she came toward me through the crowd near the gate, holding out a neatly gloved hand, I could scarcely realise that this well-dressed, soft-voiced lady was the homeless creature I had consorted with the night before. Her eyes laughingly challenged mine, while the hours since had given her back perfect control.
“So you did not even know me,” she said pleasantly. “Oh, but you did not—you were passing by when I spoke. Don’t apologize, for really I take it as the highest compliment. You are wonderfully improved yourself. If I had ever doubted your claim to having been well born I would realize the truth now. That is something not easily counterfeited.”
“And something evidently you need never try to counterfeit,” I added, forgetful of our peculiar relations, as I gazed at the arch face under the broad hat brim. “Pray how did you work such a marvelous transformation on so small a sum? I had a theory marriage was expensive.”