“It will pass off in a moment.” He spoke with an effort to appear self-possessed. “Let us go on deck,” he added, rising. “There are a great many people in the cabin, and the atmosphere is oppressive.”
A dead weight fell upon the maiden’s heart as she arose and went on deck by the side of Mr. Emerson. She had noticed his sudden pause and glance across the cabin at the instant she was holding her breath for his next words, but did not observe the object, a sight of which had wrought on him so remarkable a change. They walked nearly the entire length of the boat, after getting on deck, before Mr. Emerson spoke. He then remarked on the boldness of the scenery and pointed out interesting localities, but in so absent and preoccupied a way that his companion listened without replying. In a little while he managed to get into the neighborhood of three or four of their party, with whom he left her, and, moving away, took a position on the upper deck just over the gangway from which the landings were made. Here he remained until the boat came to at a pier on which his feet had stepped lightly many, many times. Ivy Cliff was only a little way distant, hidden from view by a belt of forest trees. The ponderous machinery stood still, the plunging wheels stopped their muffled roar, and in the brooding silence that followed three or four persons stepped on the plank which had been thrown out and passed to the shore. A single form alone fixed the eyes of Hartley Emerson. He would have known it on the instant among a thousand. It was that of Irene. Her step was slow, like one abstracted in mind or like one in feeble health. After gaining the landing, she stood still and turned toward the boat, when their eyes met again—met, and held each other, by a spell which neither had power to break. The fastenings were thrown off, the engineer rung his bell; there was a clatter of machinery, a rush of waters and the boat glanced onward. Then Irene started like one suddenly aroused from sleep and walked rapidly away.
And thus they met for the first time after a separation of ten years.
THE MINISTERING ANGEL.
A CLATTER of machinery, a rush of waters, and the boat glanced onward but still Hartley Emerson stood motionless and statue-like, his eyes fixed upon the shore, until the swiftly-gliding vessel bore him away, and the object which had held his vision by a kind of fascination was concealed from view.
“An angel, if there ever was one on this side of heaven!” said a voice close to his ear. Emerson gave a start and turned quickly. A man plainly dressed stood beside him. He was of middle age, and had a mild, grave, thoughtful countenance.
“Of whom do you speak?” asked Emerson, not able entirely to veil his surprise.
“Of the lady we saw go ashore at the landing just now. She turned and looked at us. You could not help noticing her.”