What his thoughts were that night may be easily imagined. Cissy’s death had removed the only cause he had for concealing his real identity. There was nothing more to prevent his revealing all to Miss Boutelle and to offer to adopt the boy. But he reflected this could not be done until after the funeral, for it was only due to Cissy’s memory that he should still keep up the role of Dick Lasham as chief mourner. If it seems strange that Bob did not at this crucial moment take Miss Boutelle into his confidence, I fear it was because he dreaded the personal effect of the deceit he had practiced upon her more than any ethical consideration; she had softened considerably in her attitude towards him that night; he was human, after all, and while he felt his conduct had been unselfish in the main, he dared not confess to himself how much her opinion had influenced him. He resolved that after the funeral he would continue his journey, and write to her, en route, a full explanation of his conduct, inclosing Daddy’s letter as corroborative evidence. But on searching his letter-case he found that he had lost even that evidence, and he must trust solely at present to her faith in his improbable story.
It seemed as if his greatest sacrifice was demanded at the funeral! For it could not be disguised that the neighbors were strongly prejudiced against him. Even the preacher improved the occasion to warn the congregation against the dangers of putting off duty until too late. And when Robert Falloner, pale, but self-restrained, left the church with Miss Boutelle, equally pale and reserved, on his arm, he could with difficulty restrain his fury at the passing of a significant smile across the faces of a few curious bystanders. “It was Amy Boutelle, that was the ‘penitence’ that fetched him, you bet!” he overheard, a barely concealed whisper; and the reply, “And it’s a good thing she’s made out of it too, for he’s mighty rich!”
At the church door he took her cold hand into his. “I am leaving to-morrow morning with Jimmy,” he said, with a white face. “Good-by.”
“You are quite right; good-by,” she replied as briefly, but with the faintest color. He wondered if she had heard it too.
Whether she had heard it or not, she went home with Mrs. Ricketts in some righteous indignation, which found—after the young lady’s habit—free expression. Whatever were Mr. Lasham’s faults of omission it was most un-Christian to allude to them there, and an insult to the poor little dear’s memory who had forgiven them. Were she in his shoes she would shake the dust of the town off her feet; and she hoped he would. She was a little softened on arriving to find Jimmy in tears. He had lost Dick’s photograph—or Dick had forgotten to give it back at the hotel, for this was all he had in his pocket. And he produced a letter—the missing letter of Daddy, which by mistake Falloner had handed back instead of the photograph. Miss Boutelle saw the superscription and Californian postmark with a vague curiosity.