“Yes, a boy,” he exclaimed, “or I had never done what I did; but it cannot be helped, and I must abide the consequences. Now let us talk of something else. I am going away to-morrow, and you need not come again until I send for you; but whatever occurs, don’t think I am offended.”
She could not think so when she met the olden look she ahs missed so long, and wondering where he could be going, she arose to take her leave. He went with her to the door, and wrung her hand nervously, bidding her in heart a final farewell, for when they met again a great gulf would be between them,—a gulf he had helped to dig, and which he could not ass. Edith had intended to ask old Judy where Arthur was going, without, however, having much hope of success: for, since the conversation concerning Nina, Judy had been wholly non-committal, plainly showing that she had been trained for the occasion, but changed her mind, and rode leisurely away, going round by Brier Hill to call upon Grace whom she had not seen for some little time. Grace, as usual, was full of complaints against Arthur for being so misanthropical, so cross-grained and so queer, shutting himself up like a hermit and refusing to see any one but herself and Edith.
“What is he going to Worcester for?” she asked, adding that one of the negroes had told old Rachel, who was there the previous night.
But Edith did not know, unless it was to be married, and laughing at her own joke, she bade Grace good-bye, having learned by accident what she so much desired to know.
The next morning she arose quite early, and looking in the direction of Grassy Spring, which, when the leaves were fallen, was plainly discernible, she saw Arthur’s carriage driving from his gate. There was no train due at that hour, and she stood wondering until the carriage, which, for a moment, had been hidden from her view, appeared a second time in sight, and as it passed the house she saw Aunt Phillis’s dusky face peering from the window. She did not see Arthur, but she was sure he was inside; and when the horses were turned into the road, which, before the day of cars, was the great thoroughfare between Shannondale and Worcester, she knew he had started for the latter place in his carriage.
“What can it be for?” she said; “and why has he taken Phillis?”
But puzzle her brain as she might, she could not fathom the mystery, and she waited for what would next occur.
In the course of the day Victor, who, without being really meddlesome, managed to keep himself posted with regard to the affairs at Grassy Spring, told her that Mr. St. Claire, preferring his carriage to the cars, had gone in it to Worcester, and taken Phillis with him; that he would be absent some days; and that Sophy, Phillis’s daughter, when questioned as to his business, had answered evasively,
“Gone to fetch his wife home for what I know.”
“Maybe it is so,” said Victor, looking Edith steadily in the face, “Soph didn’t mean me to believe it; but there’s many a truth spoken in jest.”