Ann started up possessed with the desire to prove the ghostly visitant material; passing through the door, she fled outside with her lamp. Whatever had been there had withdrawn itself more quickly than she had come to seek it.
She felt convinced now that her father was dead; she fell to imagining all the ways in which the tragic end might have come. No thought that came to her was satisfactory. What had Bart done? Why had his form seemed to her so inextricably confused with the form of her father at the moment of the apparition? The recognition of a man or his garments, although the result of observation, does not usually carry with it any consciousness of the details that we have observed; and she did not know now what it was that had made her think of Toyner so strongly.
The next morning, as the day was beginning to wear on, one of the Fentown men put his head into Ann’s door.
“Do you happen to know where Toyner is?” he asked.
She gave a negative, only to be obliged to repeat it to several questions in quick succession.
“Seen him this morning?”
“Seen him last night?”
“Happen to know where he would likely be?”
The growing feeling of distress in Ann’s mind made the shake of her head more and more emphatic. She was of course an object of more or less pity to every one at that time, and the intruder made an explanation that had some tone of apology.
“Oh, well, I didn’t know but as you might have happened to have seen him since he came back. His boat’s there at the landing all right, but his mother’s not seen him up to the house.”
During the day Ann heard the same tale in several different forms. Toyner was one of those quiet men not often in request by his neighbours; and as he was known at present to have reason possibly for hidden movements in search of his quarry, there was not that hue and cry raised concerning the presence of the boat and the absence of the owner that would have been aroused in the case of some other; still, the interest in his whereabouts gradually grew, and Ann heard the talk about it. Within her own heart an unexpressed terror grew stronger and stronger. It was founded upon the sense of personal responsibility. She alone knew the secret mission upon which Toyner had left; she alone knew of the glimpse of her father which she had caught the night before, and she doubted now whether she had seen a spirit or visible man. What had happened in the dark hour in which Toyner and Markham had met, and which of them had brought back the boat? The misery of these questions grew to be greater than she could endure; but to confide her distress to any one was impossible. To do so might not only be to put her father’s enemies upon his track, but it would be to confess Bart’s unfaithfulness to his public duty; and in that curious revolution of feeling which so frequently comes about in hearts where it is least expected, Ann felt the latter would be the more intolerable woe of the two.