It was a prospect to daunt some men, but not Sweetwater. Indeed it was no more than he had calculated upon when he left his savings behind with his old mother and entered upon this enterprise with only a little change in his pocket. He had undertaken out of love and gratitude to Mr. Sutherland to rid Frederick of a dangerous witness and he felt able to complete the sacrifice. More than that, he was even strangely happy for a time. The elation of the willing victim was his, that is for a few short hours, then he began to think of his mother. How had she borne his sudden departure? What would she think had befallen him, and how long would he have to wait before he could send her word of his safety? If he was to be of real service to the man he venerated, he must be lost long enough for the public mind to have become settled in regard to the mysteries of the Webb murder and for his own boastful connection with it to be forgotten. This might mean years of exile. He rather thought it did; meanwhile his mother! Of himself he thought little.
By sundown he felt himself sufficiently recovered from his bruises to go up on deck. It was a mild night, and the sea was running in smooth long waves that as yet but faintly presaged the storm brewing on the distant horizon. As he inhaled the fresh air, the joy of renewed health began to infuse its life into his veins and lift the oppression from his heart, and, glad of a few minutes of quiet enjoyment, he withdrew to a solitary portion of the deck and allowed himself to forget his troubles in contemplation of the rapidly deepening sky and boundless stretch of waters.
But such griefs and anxieties as weighed upon this man’s breast are not so easily shaken off. Before he realised it his thoughts had recurred to the old theme, and he was wondering if he was really of sufficient insignificance in the eyes of his fellow-townsmen not to be sought for and found in that distant country to which he was bound. Would they, in spite of his precautions, suspect that he had planned this evasion and insist on his return, or would he be allowed to slip away and drop out of sight like the white froth he was watching on the top of the ever-shifting waves? He had boasted of possessing a witness. Would they believe that boast and send a detective in search of him, or would they take his words for the bombast they really were and proceed with their investigations in happy relief at the loss of his intrusive assistance?