“Lar’ bless you, Doctor, Massa Veneer no more idee ’f any mischief ’bout Dick than he has ‘bout you or me. Y’ see, he very fond o’ the Cap’n,—that Dick’s father,—’n’ he live so long alone here, ‘long wi’ us, that he kin’ o’ like to see mos’ anybody ’t ‘s got any o’ th’ of family-blood in ’em. He ha’n’t got no more suspicions ‘n a baby,—y’ never see sech a man ‘n y’r life. I kin’ o’ think he don’ care for nothin’ in this world ‘xcep’ jes’ t’ do what Elsie wan’s him to. The fus’ year after young Madam die he do nothin’ but jes’ set at the window ‘n’ look out at her grave, ‘n’ then come up ‘n’ look at the baby’s neck ‘n’ say, ‘It’s fadin’, Sophy, a’n’t it? ‘n’ then go down in the study ‘n’ walk ‘n’ walk, ‘n’ them kneel down ‘n’ pray. Doctor, there was two places in the old carpet that was all threadbare, where his knees had worn ’em. An’ sometimes, you remember ’bout all that,—he’d go off up into The Mountain, ‘n’ be gone all day, ‘n’ kill all the Ugly Things he could find up there.—Oh, Doctor, I don’ like to think o’ them days!—An’ by ‘n’ by he grew kin’ o’ still, ‘n’ begun to read a little, ‘n’ ‘t las’ he got ’s quiet’s a lamb, ‘n’ that’s the way he is now. I think he’s got religion, Doctor; but he a’n’t so bright about what’s goin’ on, ‘n’ I don’ believe he never suspec’ nothin’ till somethin’ happens; for the’ ’s somethin’ goin’ to happen, Doctor, if the Las’ Day does n’ come to stop it; ‘n’ you mus’ tell us what to do, ‘n’ save my poor Elsie, my baby that the Lord has n’ took care of like all his other childer.”
The Doctor assured the old woman that he was thinking a great deal about them all, and that there were other eyes on Dick besides her own. Let her watch him closely about the house, and he would keep a look-out elsewhere. If there was anything new, she must let him know at once. Send up one of the menservants, and he would come down at a moment’s warning.
There was really nothing definite against this young man; but the Doctor was sure that he was meditating some evil design or other. He rode straight up to the Institute. There he saw Mr. Bernard, and had a brief conversation with him, principally on matters relating to his personal interests.
That evening, for some unknown reason, Mr. Bernard changed the place of his desk and drew down the shades of his windows. Late that night Mr. Richard Venner drew the charge of a rifle, and put the gun back among the fowling-pieces, swearing that a leather halter was worth a dozen of it.
The perilous hour.
Up to this time Dick Venner had not decided on the particular mode and the precise period of relieving himself from the unwarrantable interference which threatened to defeat his plans. The luxury of feeling that he had his man in his power was its own reward. One who watches in the dark, outside, while his enemy, in utter unconsciousness, is illuminating his apartment and himself so that every movement of his head and every button on his coat can be seen and counted, experiences a peculiar kind of pleasure, if he holds a loaded rifle in his hand, which he naturally hates to bring to its climax by testing his skill as a marksman upon the object of his attention.