In a few words Conniston told him. For a moment Brayley said nothing, shaking his head and eying him curiously.
“You sure got your nerve, Con,” he said, simply, after a minute.
Conniston laughed shakily. Again a sinking nausea made him faint and dizzy. He could remember now the way the nose of his revolver had sunk into the Chinaman’s stomach, could see again all of the horror of the thing which he had done.
“I’m sick, Brayley,” he said, unsteadily. “The thing will drive me mad. I—I had to kill a man—and I can’t forget how he looked!”
“How you managed to stop ’em jest killing one gets me. Where is he?”
Conniston nodded to the wagon and turned away shuddering. The Half Moon foreman strode over to the wagon and looked closely at the limp body. And then he came to Conniston with long strides.
“Hell,” he grunted, disgustedly. “I thought you said you’d killed a man! That’s only a Chink!”
The few barefooted, tattered urchins of Valley City had scampered homeward through the quiet street, swept along upon the high tide of glee. Bat Truxton had got drunk again; Mr. Crawford had fired him; Miss Jocelyn had gone away with him to Crawfordsville; there was every reason for their glad optimism to see a long vacation before them. What was the importance of reclamation somewhere off in the misty future when vacation, unexpected and thence all the more delectable, smiled upon them now?
“Mr. Crawford has been just as mean to poor papa as he could be,” Miss Jocelyn had confided to them, in tear-dampened scornfulness. “Papa doesn’t want me to teach, anyway. And”—with a sniff and a toss of her head—“we’ll be in town now where we can enjoy ourselves.”
It is not a pretty thing to contradict a lady, but certainly if Miss Jocelyn’s papa made the remark which she attributed to him it must have been at some time prior to his return from the camp to Valley City; prior, too, to his exit from Valley City to Crawfordsville. For her papa went out of the Valley reclining wordlessly upon a thick padding of quilts in the bed of a big wagon, with his few household effects so arranged about him as to screen him from the sun and the curious gaze of a chance passer-by, and in no condition to express himself upon any matter whatever.
There was in Crawfordsville, upon a pleasant, shady avenue, a little vine-covered cottage belonging to Bat Truxton, and thither the big wagon conveyed him, his scornful daughter, and his few household effects. And there shortly after twilight upon the third day after the closing of school in Valley City Mr. Roger Hapgood, sartorially immaculate in shining raiment, glorious as to tie and silken socks, presented himself.
Miss Jocelyn Truxton, a big, yellow-hearted rose peeping forth at him from a carefully careless profusion of brown hair, came out upon the porch at his knock, smiled at him saucily, and offered him her hand.