When Mr. Campbell caught sight of Ben approaching the dining-room in company with a young lady, he advanced eagerly and peered into the young lady’s face. He turned away in disappointment.
“I have made a fool of myself. It is only a common country girl. I must look elsewhere for my ward.”
Directly after breakfast Ben had the satisfaction of seeing the obnoxious guardian depart in a hack.
“Good-by, Mr. Vernon!” he said politely. “I see you are leaving the hotel.”
“Good-by!” muttered Campbell.
“I hope you’ll excuse my cousin for not seeing you?”
“I don’t think she’s the one I supposed,” said Campbell. “It’s of no consequence.”
Ben hastened to inform Miss Sinclair of her guardian’s departure.
“Now the field is clear,” said Ida, breathing a sigh of relief.
“I say, Ida, you managed him tip-top,” said Ben admiringly. “I never should have thought of such a plan.”
Miss Sinclair smiled faintly.
“I don’t like to employ deceit,” she said, “but it seems necessary to fight such an enemy with his own weapons.”
“He wanted to deceive you. He put a wrong name on his card.”
“That is true, Ben. I must thank you for the manner in which you have aided me in this matter. I should not have known how to act if I had not had you to call upon.”
Ben’s face brightened.
“I am glad to hear you say that, Cousin Ida,” he said. “You are spending so much money for me that I shall be glad to feel that I have earned some of it.”
“Have no trouble on that score, Ben. I foresee that you will continue to be of great service to me. I regard the money expended for you as well invested.”
Ben heard this with satisfaction. It naturally gave him a feeling of heightened importance when he reflected that a wealthy heiress had selected him as her escort and right-hand man, and that she was satisfied with her choice.
On Saturday morning Miss Sinclair and Ben went on board the California steamer, and when the tide served, they started on their long voyage.
In San Francisco.
Ben was not seasick, and enjoyed the novel experiences vastly. Miss Sinclair was less fortunate. For four days she was sick and confined to her stateroom. After that she was able to appear among the other passengers. Ben was very attentive, and confirmed the favorable opinion she had already formed of him.
At last the voyage came to a close. It was a bright, cheery morning when the steamer came within sight of San Francisco. It was not a populous and brilliant city as at present, for Ben’s expedition dates back to the year 1856, only a few years after the discovery of gold. Still, there was a good-sized town on the site of the future city. The numerous passengers regarded it with rejoicing hearts, and exchanged hopeful congratulations. Probably with the exception of Miss Sinclair, all had gone out to make or increase their fortunes. Her fortune was already made. She had gone to enjoy personal liberty, and to find her plighted husband.