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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 269 pages of information about Dark Hollow.
of the whole business, and hearing his whistle and knowing by it that he was very near, I plunged up the slope to avoid him, and hurried straight away into town.  That is my story, father.  If I heard your steps approaching as I plunged across the path into which I had thrown the stick in my anger at having broken the point of my knife-blade upon it, I thought nothing of them then.  Afterwards I believed them to be Scoville’s, which may account to you for my silence about this whole matter both before and during the trial.  I was afraid of the witness-stand and of what might be elicited from me if I once got into the hands of the lawyers.  My abominable reticence in regard to his former crime would be brought up against me, and I was yet too young, too shy and uninformed to face such an ordeal of my own volition.  Unhappily, I was not forced into it, and—­But we will not talk of that, father.”

“Son,”—­a long silence had intervened,—­“there is one thing more.  When—­how—­did you first learn my real reason for sending you from home?  I saw that my position was understood by you when our eyes first met in this room.  But twelve years had passed since you left this house in ignorance of all but my unnatural attitude towards you.  When, Oliver, when?”

“That I cannot answer, father; it was just a conviction which dawned gradually upon me.  Now, it seems as if I had known it always; but that isn’t so.  A boy doesn’t reason; and it took reasoning for me to—­to accept—­”

“Yes, I understand.  And that was your secret!  Oh, Oliver, I shall never ask for your forgiveness.  I am not worthy it.  I only ask that you will not let pride or any other evil passion stand in the way of the happiness I see in the future for you.  I cannot take from you the shame of my crime and long deception, but spare me this final sorrow!  There is nothing to part you from Reuther now.  Alike unhappy in your parentage, you can start on equal terms, and love will do the rest.  Say that you will marry her, Oliver, and let me see her smile before I die.”

“Marry her?  Oh, father, will such an angel marry me?”

“No, but such a woman might.”

Oliver came near, and stooped over his father’s bed.

“Father, if love and attention to my profession can make a success of the life you prize, they shall have their opportunity.”

The father smiled.  If it fell to others to remember him as he appeared in his mysterious prime, to Oliver it was given to recall him as he looked then with the light on his face and the last tear he was ever to shed glittering in his fading eye.

“God is good,” came from the bed; then the solemnity of death settled over the room.

The soft footfalls overhead ceased.  The long hush had brought the two women to the door where they stood sobbing.  Oliver was on his knees beside the bed, his head buried in his arms.  On the face so near him there rested a ray from the westering sun; but the glitter was gone from the eye and the unrest from the heart.  No more weary vigils in a room dedicated to remorse and self-punishment.  No more weary circling of the house in the dark lane whose fences barred out the hurrying figure within from every eye but that of Heaven.  Peace for him; and for Reuther and Oliver, hope!

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