Eugene threw back his head haughtily. “She wants to see Burr Gordon,” he thought, and would have died rather than let her think he would stand in the way of it. He jerked the roan aside, and seemed as if he would have been flung into the way-side bushes with her curving plunge.
“Pass, if you wish,” he said, with a graceful bend in his saddle, and was past them, riding the other way towards the village.
When they reached the county buildings, the court-house and the jail, in New Salem, the old race-horse was still not nearly spent, although he breathed somewhat hard. When Madelon sprang out to blanket and tie him he seemed to vibrate to her touch like electric steel, and showed that the old fire had not yet died out of his nerves and muscles.
Poor Dorothy Fair’s knees were weak under her as she got out of the sleigh. Her pretty face was pitiful, her sweet mouth drooping at the corners like a troubled child’s.
Madelon looked at her sharply when they stood before the jail door waiting for admittance. “I have seen you wear a curl each side of your face outside your hood,” said she.
“I didn’t think of it to-day,” Dorothy replied, with forlorn surprise.
Madelon went close to the other girl peremptorily, as if she had been her mother, pulled forward two soft curls from under her hood, and arranged them becomingly against the pale cheeks; and Dorothy submitted.
Alvin Mead opened the jail door, and his great face took on a forbidding scowl when he saw Madelon Hautville.
“Can’t let ye in,” he said, gruffly. “Ain’t a visitin’ day.” He would have shut the door in their faces had not Madelon made a quick spring against it.
“I don’t want to come in!” she cried. “I don’t want to see him to-day. It’s this lady who wants to see him.”
“Can’t see nobody,” said Alvin Mead, filling up the door like a surly living wedge.
“You must let us see him,” persisted Madelon. “She’s Parson Fair’s daughter. She is going to marry Burr Gordon—she must see him.”
Alvin Mead shook his head stubbornly. Then Dorothy spoke, thrusting her fair face forward, and looking up at him with terrified, innocent pleading, like a child, and yet speaking with a gentle lady’s authority. “I beg you to let me come in, only for a few moments,” said she. “I will not make you any trouble. I will come out directly when you bid me to.”
Alvin Mead looked at her a second, then at Madelon with rough inquiry. “Who did ye say she was?” he growled.
“Parson Fair’s daughter, the lady that’s going to marry Burr Gordon.”
“I can’t let but one of ye see him, and she can’t stay more’n ten minutes,” said Alvin Mead, and moved aside, and Madelon and Dorothy entered.