The early autumn sun glowed on the broad streets as they walked slowly through them, halting to examine narrowly every display of portraits at a photographer’s door.
It was a right course; they came upon some exquisitely-finished ones, among which they detected unmistakably the coloured likeness of Elvira de Menella. They went into the studio and asked to look at it. “Ah, many ask that,” they were told, “though the sensation was a little gone by.”
“What sensation?” Jock asked, while his mother trembled so much that she had to sit down on one of the velvet chairs.
“I guess you are a stranger, sir, from England? Then no doubt you have not heard of the great event of the season at Saratoga, the sudden elopement of this young lady, a beautiful English heiress, on the eve of marriage, these very portraits ordered for the bridesmaids’ lockets.”
“Whom did she elope with?” asked Jock.
“That’s the remarkable part of it, sir. Some say that she was claimed in secret by a lover to whom she had been long much attached; but we are better informed. I can state to a certainty that she only fled to escape the tyranny of an aunt. She need only have appealed to the institutions of the country.”
“Very true,” said Jock. “Let me ask if your informant was not the lady who coloured this photograph, Mrs. Harte?” “Yes.” “And is she here?”
“No, sir,” with some hesitation.
“Can you give me her address? I am her brother. This lady is her mother, and we are very anxious to find her.”
The photographer was gained by the frank address and manner. “I am sorry,” he said, “but the truth is that there was a monster excitement about the disappearance of the girl, and as Mrs. Harte was said to have been concerned, there was constant resort to the studio to interview her; and I cannot but think she treated me ill, sir, for she quitted me at an hour’s notice.”
“And left no address?” exclaimed her mother, grievously disappointed.
“Not with me, madam; but she was intimate with a young lady employed in our establishment, and she may know where to find her.”
And, through a tube, the photographer issued a summons, which resulted in the appearance of a pleasant-looking girl, who, on hearing that Mrs. Harte’s mother and brother were in search of her, readily responded that Mrs. Harte had written to her a month ago from Philadelphia, asking her to forward to her any letters that might come to the room she usually occupied at New York. She had found employment, and there could be no doubt that she would be heard of there.
It was very near now. There was something very soothing in the services of that Sunday of waiting, when the Church seemed a home on the other side the sea, and on the Monday they were on their way, hearing, but scarcely heeding, the talk in the cars of the terrible yellow-fever visitation then beginning at New Orleans.