“Well, Ben, we have nearly reached our destination,” said Miss Sinclair, as she looked earnestly in the direction of the embryo city. “You are glad, are you not?”
“Yes, Cousin Ida,” said Ben slowly.
“But you look thoughtful. Is there anything on your mind?”
“I feel sorry that I am to part from you, Cousin Ida.”
“Thank you, Ben, but we are not to part permanently. You don’t mean to forsake me utterly?”
“Not if you need me,” said our hero.
“I shall still require your services. You remember that I came out here in search of a—friend?” said Miss Sinclair, hesitating.
“Yes, I know, Cousin Ida.”
“I am desirous that he should know that I am in San Francisco, but, unfortunately, though I know he is in California, I have no idea where, or in what part of it he is to be found. Once in communication with him, I need have no further apprehension of interference or persecution on the part of my guardian.”
“To be sure,” said Ben straightforwardly. “I suppose you would marry him?”
“That may come some time,” said Miss Sinclair, smiling, “but he must be found first.”
“You will travel about, I suppose?” said Ben.
“No; I shall engage some one to travel for me. It would not be suitable for a young lady to go from one mining-camp to another.”
“Have you thought of any one you can send?” asked our hero.
“Yes,” said Miss Sinclair. “He is rather young, but I shall try the experiment.”
“Do you mean me?” asked Ben quickly.
“Yes; are you willing to be my agent in the matter?”
“I should like it of all things,” said Ben, with sparkling eyes.
“Then you may consider yourself engaged. The details we will discuss presently.”
“And where will you stay, Cousin Ida?”
“In San Francisco. I have become acquainted with a lady on board who proposes to open a boarding-house in the city, or, rather, to take charge of one already kept by her sister. In my circumstances, it will be better for me to board with her than at a hotel. There I shall have a secure and comfortable home, while you are exploring the mining-districts in my interest.”
“That is an excellent plan,” said Ben.
“So I think.”
Here the conversation was interrupted by the bustle of approaching departure. Ben landed in the company of Miss Sinclair and Mrs. Armstrong, and the three proceeded at once to the boarding-house, over which the latter was in future to preside. A comfortable room was assigned to Miss Sinclair, and a small one to Ben. They were plainly furnished, but both enjoyed being on land once more.