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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Conquest of Canaan.

XV

HAPPY FEAR GIVES HIMSELF UP

“I know how tired you are,” said Ariel, as he came back into the room.  “I shall not keep you long.”

“Ah, please do!” he returned, quickly, beginning to fumble with the shade of a student-lamp at one end of the desk.

“Let me do that,” she said.  “Sit down.”  He obeyed at once, and watched her as she lit the lamp, and, stretching upon tiptoe, turned out the gas.  “No,” she continued, seated again and looking across the desk at him, “I wanted to see you at the first possible opportunity, but what I have to say—­”

“Wait,” he interrupted.  “Let me tell you why I did not come yesterday.”

“You need not tell me.  I know.”  She glanced at the chair which had been occupied by Mrs. Fear.  “I knew last night that they had sent for you.”

“You did?” he exclaimed.  “Ah, I understand.  Sam Warden must have told you.”

“Yes,” she said.  “It was he; and I have been wondering ever since how he heard of it.  He knew last night, but there was nothing in the papers this morning; and until I came here I heard no one else speak of it; yet Canaan is not large.”

Joe laughed.  “It wouldn’t seem strange if you lived with the Canaan that I do.  Sam had been down-town during the afternoon and had met friends; the colored people are a good deal like a freemasonry, you know.  A great many knew last night all about what had happened, and had their theories about what might happen to-day in case the two men met.  Still, you see, those who knew, also knew just what people not to tell.  The Tocsin is the only newspaper worth the name here; but even if the Tocsin had known of the trouble, it wouldn’t have been likely to mention it.  That’s a thing I don’t understand.”  He frowned and rubbed the back of his head.  “There’s something underneath it.  For more than a year the Tocsin hasn’t spoken of Beaver Beach.  I’d like to know why.”

“Joe,” she said, slowly, “tell me something truly.  A man said to me yesterday that he found life here insufferable.  Do you find it so?”

“Why, no!” he answered, surprised.

“Do you hate Canaan?”

“Certainly not.”

“You don’t find it dull, provincial, unsympathetic?”

He laughed cheerily.  “Well, there’s this,” he explained:  “I have an advantage over your friend.  I see a more interesting side of things probably.  The people I live among are pretty thorough cosmopolites in a way, and the life I lead—­”

“I think I begin to understand a little about the life you lead,” she interrupted.  “Then you don’t complain of Canaan?”

“Of course not.”

She threw him a quick, bright, happy look, then glanced again at the chair in which Mrs. Fear had sat.  “Joe,” she said, “last night I heard the people singing in the houses, the old Sunday-evening way.  It `took me back so’!”

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