She put forward her face until her breath swept Lem’s skin.
“I’m goin’ to kiss him as much—as much as he’ll let me. And I’m goin’ to write Fluke; and, if ye touches me afore I does all that—I’ll kill ye!”
Lena drew back from her vehemence, leaving the way of the staircase clear, and in another instant Fledra was gone.
The following day Shellington left for New York, immediately after breakfast.
Fledra made no attempt to write her farewells until in the evening after she had looked her last upon Floyd, and Ann had seen her to bed. An hour passed before she got up softly and turned on the light. She fumbled warily about her table for writing materials, and after she had found them her tense face was bent long over the letters. When she had finished, she stole along the hall to Horace’s study, and left there the tear-stained envelops for him and her brother.
Once back in her room, she donned her street-clothes rapidly, and, after taking a silent farewell of the surroundings she loved, climbed through the window and dropped to the ground. She crept stealthily to the back of the house and approached the dog-kennels. Through the dim light she could see the scrawny greyhounds pulling at their leashes as she fumbled at the wire-mesh door. Whines from several of the dogs made Fledra step inside, whence she glanced out misgivingly to see if she had been observed.
“Snatchet!” she whispered.
From a distant corner she heard the rattle of a chain.
“Snatchet!” she called again.
This time she spoke more loudly and advanced a step.
“Where are ye?”
A familiar whine gave her Snatchet’s whereabouts. She felt her way along the right wall, and as she passed each animal she spoke tenderly to it. Upon reaching the little mongrel, Fledra placed her face down close to him. The glitter of his shining eyes, the warm contact of his wet tongue, brought tears from her. She told him gently that they were going away together, going back to the country where many of the evil persons of the world congregated. The girl took the collar from the dog’s neck and, picking him up quickly, retraced her steps.
“We’re going back to the hut, Snatchet,” she told him again, “and Fledra’s going to take you because Floyd won’t care when he’s got Sister Ann—and Brother Horace.” At the mention of the man’s name, the squatter girl bent her head over the yellow dog and sobbed.
Then she ran until she was far from the house; but her steps lagged more and more as she neared the river. Long before she reached it she stopped and sat down. How intensely she wished that her sacrifice was to wander alone with Snatchet the rest of her days! Anything would have been preferable to Lem and his scow. But the bargain with her enemies had been the surrendering of herself to the canalman, and shortly