“By that last speech you’ve proved how young and romantic you are,” answered Richard. “Winter and spring go not well together. Edith Hastings will never be my wife. But she shall come to Collingwood. I will return with you and bring her back myself.”
Ringing the bell for Victor, he bade him see that breakfast was served at once, saying that he was going with his friend to Albany.
“Without me?” asked Victor in much surprise, and Richard replied,
“Yes, without you,” adding in an aside to Arthur, “Victor is so much accustomed to waiting upon me that he thinks himself necessary to every movement, but I’d rather travel alone with Edith, she’ll do as well as Victor, and I have a fancy to keep my movements a secret, at least until the child is fairly in the house. It will be a surprise to Mrs. Atherton; I’ll have John drive us to the next station, and meet me there to-morrow,”
So saying, he excused himself for a few moments and groped his way up stairs to make some necessary changes in his dress. For several minutes Arthur was alone, and free to congratulate himself upon his escape from detection.
“In my dread of recognition I undoubtedly aggravated its chances,” he thought. “Of course this Mr. Harrington did not observe me closely. It was night, and he was almost blind, even then. My voice and manner are all that can betray me, and as he is apparently satisfied on that point, I have nothing further to apprehend from him.”
Arthur liked to feel well—disagreeable reflections did not suit his temperament, and having thus dismissed from his mind the only thing annoying him at the present, he began to examine the books arrayed so carefully upon the shelves, whistling to himself as he did so, and pronouncing Arthur St. Claire a pretty good fellow after all, if he had a secret of which most people would not approve. He had just reached this conclusion when Richard reappeared, and breakfast was soon after announced by the valet, Victor. That being over, there was not a moment to be lost if they would reach the cars in time for the next train, and bidding his father a kind adieu, Richard went with Arthur to the carriage, and was driven to the depot of the adjoining town. More than one passenger turned their heads to look at the strangers as they came in, the elder led by the younger, who yet managed so skillfully that but few guessed how great a calamity had befallen the man with the dark hair, and black, glittering eyes. Arthur took a great pride in ministering to the wants of his companion, and in all he did there was a delicacy and tenderness which touched a chord almost fraternal in the heart of the blind man, who, as the day wore on, found himself drawn more and more toward his new acquaintance.
“I believe even I might be happy if both you and Edith could live with me,” he said, at last, when Albany was reached, and they were ascending the steps to the Delevan.