“I cannot believe it yet. We will not believe it. Now listen patiently, for you will have your part to do.”
“Yes, yes; if I could only do something! That would help me so much. Oh, if I could only go with you!”
“That would not be best or wise, and might defeat my efforts. I must be free to go where you could not—to visit places unsafe for you. My first step must be to get letters to our State Senator. Your father can write one, and I’ll get one or two others. The Senator will give me a letter to the Governor, who in turn will accredit me to the authorities at Washington and the officer in command on the battlefield. You know I shall need passes. Those who go to the extreme front must be able to account for themselves. I will keep in telegraphic communication with you, and you may receive additional tidings which will aid me in my search. Mr. Kemble!” he concluded, calling her father from his perturbed pacing up and down the hall.
“Ah!” said the banker, entering, “this is a hundred-fold better than despairing, useless grief. I’ve heard the gist of what Hobart has said, and approve it. Now I’ll call mother, so that we may all take courage and get a good grip on hope.”
They consulted together briefly, and in the prospect of action, Helen was carried through the first dangerous crisis in her experience.
Mrs. Martine grieved over her son’s unexpected resolve. In her estimation he was engaging in a very dangerous and doubtful expedition. Probably mothers will never outgrow a certain jealousy when they find that another woman has become first in the hearts of their sons. The sense of robbery was especially strong in this case, for Mrs. Martine was a widow, and Hobart an only and idolized child.
The mother speedily saw that it would be useless to remonstrate, and tearfully aided him in his preparations. Before he departed, he won her over as an ally. “These times, mother, are bringing heavy burdens to very many, and we should help each other bear them. You know what Helen is to me, and must be always. That is something which cannot be changed. My love has grown with my growth and become inseparable from my life. I have my times of weakness, but think I can truly say that I love her so well that I would rather make her happy at any cost to myself. If it is within my power, I shall certainly bring Nichol back, alive or dead. Prove your love to me, mother, by cheering, comforting, and sustaining that poor girl. I haven’t as much hope of success as I tried to give her, but she needs hope now; she must have it, or there is no assurance against disastrous effects on her health and mind. I couldn’t bear that.”
“Well, Hobart, if he is dead, she certainly ought to reward you some day.”
“We must not think of that. The future is not in our hands. We can only do what is duty now.”