Part 3 out of 3
"I'll call Ridge out," said Julius promptly, "or--well, good luck! here
Wheeling, he advanced to meet a slim young man who was hurrying down the
wide staircase to the lobby. Jordan's first glance was one of
astonishment, his second of suspicion. The reputation of Julius Broughton
for mischief, particularly at times like these, was one not to be lightly
overlooked. But Julius's air of earnestness was disarming.
"No joking, Ridge," he said. "Mr. Waldron and I wandered over here on a
long tramp. Dot wouldn't tell me where you people were going. We meant to
take the train at nine forty-five, but--well, you know timetables. It
turned out to be an up train instead of a down train. It was all my
fault. It wouldn't matter, but Mr. Waldron will miss a more than
important engagement with a ship sailing for South America if he doesn't
get back to catch the eleven-fifty to town. You see there isn't a
But of course there was no need to explain further. Jordan was a
gentleman, and even if he had doubted Julius there was no doubting the
expression in the eyes of the man to whom Julius now presented him. Young
Jordan knew a man of serious affairs when he saw one; unquestionably he
saw one now. He promptly offered seats in one of the cars.
Waldron expressed his regret that they should be obliged to force
themselves upon a private party, and Jordan assured him that it would be
a pleasure to serve them, although he said it with one more appraising
glance at Julius. He added that he would take them in his own car, that
being the only one which had two seats to spare. As Julius had noted this
fact in the morning he was not surprised, only grateful that he had not
had to scheme for this distribution of the company.
Jordan went to the desk and gave an order, then returned to his
Julius and Waldron retired to the porch.
Presently the party came trooping out, arrayed for the trip. Dorothy in
an enveloping white coat, her hat replaced by a particularly effective
little rose-coloured bonnet of her own clever manufacture, found herself
confronted upon the lantern-lighted porch, as she was about to step into
the car, by her brother with a strange man at his elbow.
She looked straight up at him, as Julius presented him. He looked
straight down at her, and for an appreciable period of time the two pairs
of eyes continued to dwell upon each other. Until this extraordinarily
thorough mutual survey was over neither said a word. The rest of the
party, diverting themselves with the usual laughter and badinage--some
of it of a recognizably sleepy character--took their places, and only
those nearest noted the addition to the list of passengers. The other man
and girl of Jordan's car were an engaged pair, absorbed in each other, an
astute reason for his selection of them to accompany himself and Dorothy.
The rear seat of the great car easily held four people. Ashworth and Miss
Vincent occupied two of the places; during the day Jordan and Dorothy had
held the other two. Ashworth had already handed in Miss Vincent. The two
chaperons of the party young Jordan had throughout the day thoughtfully
bestowed in the other cars.
"Put my friend beside Sis, will you, Ridge?" suggested Julius in his
host's ear. "They used to be old schoolmates and haven't met for years.
He's off to-morrow for a long stay. It's their only chance to talk over
Jordon nodded; there was nothing else to do. He could joyfully have
taken his friend Julius by the scruff of his neck and hurled him out into
the night, if by some miracle he could suddenly have become that young
man's superior in strength. But social training prevailed over natural
brute instinct, and it was with entire politeness that he made this
arrangement of his guests.
He then put Julius into the seat beside the chauffeur, and himself took
one of the extra folding seats, swinging it about to half face those upon
the rear seat. In this manner he was nearly as close to Miss Dorothy
Broughton as he would have been beside her--nearly, but not quite! To his
notion there was all the difference in the world.
Kirke Waldron, understanding intuitively the position as come-between in
which he had been placed in Ridgeway Jordan's big automobile by Julius's
misreading of the railway timetable, and, as far as that part of the
situation was concerned, wishing himself a hundred miles away, was also
keenly alive to that which the gods--and Julius--had given him by seating
him beside Dorothy. As the car hummed down the long trail from the inn he
played his part with all the discretion of which he was capable; and he
had learned many things since the days when he had fallen over his own
awkward feet on the way to the blackboard. He talked a little with
Dorothy--not too much; he talked considerably more with Ridgeway
Jordan--but not more than was necessary; the greater part of the time he
was silent with the rest, as was most fitting of all in the summer
moonlight and the balmy night air.
Dorothy, sitting beside him, reminded Julius, as from time to time he
glanced contentedly back at her from, his place beside the chauffeur, of
a particularly demure kitten in the presence of two well-bred but
definitely intentioned hunting dogs. She was very quiet, and only now and
then he caught a word or two from her or the low sound of her attractive
Just once, as the car whirled through a brightly lighted square in a
small village where a country festival of some sort was in progress, he
saw her take advantage of a moment when everybody's attention was caught
by the scene, and look suddenly and absorbedly at Kirke Waldron's face in
profile. But when Ridge Jordan whirled about upon his folding seat, to
call her attention to the antics of a clown in the square, she was ready
for him with a smile and a gay word of assent. Julius laughed to himself.
There was no question that Kirke's face, even in profile, was one to make
Ridge's look insignificant. As for the man himself--
The car, rushing on through the summer night, its powerful searchlights
sending ahead a long, clear lane of safety where the road was straight,
but making the dark walls on either side resolve into black pockets of
mystery where the curves came, approached one of those long, winding
descents, followed by a second abrupt turn and a corresponding ascent,
which are--or should be--the terror of motorists. All good drivers, at
such places, hurling themselves through the darkness, sound warning
signals, lest other cars, less cautious, be rushing toward them without
sound of their coming.
Jordan's chauffeur, sending his car on down the winding hill with hardly
appreciable loss of speed, took this precaution, and the mellow but
challenging notes of his horn were winding a long warning when the thing
happened which was to happen. No accident, but the horror of one which
comes so close that it all but seizes its victims, and leaves them weak
and shuddering with what might have been.
Another car dashed around the lower turn, apparently not hearing the
warning, or determined to ignore it, that no momentum with which to climb
the steep grade coming should be lost. There was an instant in which the
two drivers glimpsed each other out of the gloom of the unlighted curve;
then quick action upon the part of both--lightning-like swerves to avoid
the danger--two great cars rocking each on the brink of disaster, then
righting themselves and running on into safety, no pausing to let any
look back and ponder upon the closeness of the escape.
It was all over so quickly that it was like the swift passage of a
hideous thought, but there had been time for every soul in the car to
look death in the face. And in that moment of peril there had been
individual action--instantaneous--the action which is instinctive and
born of character.
Julius himself had sat absolutely still beside the chauffeur, his muscles
tensely bracing themselves for whatever might come. Ashworth had caught
Miss Vincent, rigid with fear, into his arms. Waldron, throwing up the
arm next to Dorothy to grasp her with it, felt her hand leap toward him,
and with his free hand seized it in his own.
Staring straight ahead then they saw a strange thing, yet not so strange
when one remembers human nature. Ridgeway Jordan had leaped to his feet
and thrown one leg over the side of the car ready to jump, when, before
he could complete the movement, the car righted itself and he sank back
into his seat.
"Holy smoke!" Julius murmured under his breath, and glanced at the
That nearly imperturbable youth grunted in return. His hands were steady
upon the wheel, but he laughed a little shakily.
Then Julius gazed back into the depths of the car. He could not see much,
for the trees at this point were heavily overshadowing the road, but he
made out that Ridge Jordan was sitting stiffly in his seat, with--strange
to observe!--his head turned toward the front of the car. Behind him the
other figures were still and silent. Julius guessed that nobody felt like
speaking; he did not feel like it himself. It had been a little too near
a thing to discuss at first hand.
Dorothy, her heart beating in a queer, throat-choking way, became
conscious that her hand was held close and warm in another hand. An arm
that had been about her, whose clasp she had not consciously felt but
now remembered, had been withdrawn at the moment that the danger had
passed. But evidently--for the car had now gone a quarter of a mile
beyond the crucial point and was running smoothly along a wider and less
dangerous highway--her hand had been imprisoned in this strange grasp
for some time.
She made a gentle but decided effort to withdraw it, an effort which
secured its release at once but brought a low question in her ear:
"Are you all right?"
"I--think so," she murmured in reply.
It was not only the shock of the just avoided danger which held her in
its grip, but the other and even more startling revelations which had
come with it. Her head was whirling, her pulses were thrilling with the
conflict of new and strange impressions. Since three minutes ago a new
Heaven and an old earth had suddenly shown themselves.
The low voice pressed the question: "Not faint--nor frightened?"
She looked up at him then for an instant, although she could barely see
the outlines of his face. "Not with you here," she answered breathlessly,
with the impulse toward absolute honesty with which such an experience
sometimes shakes the spirit out of its conventionalities.
He was like a statue beside her for the space of six of her heartbeats.
Then his hand again found hers, pressed it in both of his, and let it
go; and his quiet speech, the note deeper than before, came once more
in her ear:
"I shall never forget that."
They went on in silence.
After a time Ridge Jordan turned about and made a carefully worded
inquiry into the comfort of his guests, which they answered with as
careful assurances that they were entirely comfortable and confident.
Ridge's voice was not quite natural. A biting shame was harassing him,
whose only alleviation was the possibility that nobody--or at least
Dorothy--had noticed in the excitement of the part that he had played.
He was saying to himself, wretchedly, that he had not known it of
himself, that he could not have believed it of himself. How could he
have done it--have had the impulse, even, to leap to safety and leave
her behind? Had she seen--had she seen? Yet when, after a time, she
leaned forward and spoke to him of her own accord, her voice was so
kind, rang with such a golden note, that he felt with sudden relief
that she could not have seen.
He turned about and began to talk again, growing more and more secure in
his belief that at the supreme moment of danger nobody had thought of
anybody but himself or herself, and by the time the car drew into the
home town Jordan was serene again.
Under the first of the arc lights Julius took counsel with his watch. He
swung about and spoke tersely: "You and I'd better jump out here and make
the station, Waldron. It's closer to train time than I thought. We're
awfully obliged to you, Ridge."
"We'll go that way. It's only a block or two out of our course," Jordan
insisted, eager to speed the parting guest.
The car drew toward the string of electrics which lighted the small
suburban station at which Waldron had arrived in the morning. The
glancing, silver-arrowed radiance illumined the whole interior of the
car under its wide-spreading, hooded top. Waldron could see Dorothy's
brilliant eyes, the curve of her lips, the rose colour in her cheeks
repeating warmly the deeper rose colour of the little silk bonnet which
kept her dark hair in order--all but one wild-willed little curly strand
which had escaped and was blowing about her face. Dorothy, in her turn,
could see Waldron's clean-cut, purposeful face, his deep-set eyes, the
modelling of his strong mouth and chin, the fine line of his cheek.
As they had looked at each other when they first met, so they looked at
each other again before they parted. Yet between that meeting and that
parting something had happened. It was in his eyes as he looked at her;
it was in her eyes as for one instant, before she dropped bewildering
lashes, she gave him back his look. It meant that South America was not
so far away but that a voyager could come back over the same high seas
which had conveyed him there. And that when he came--
"I'm grateful to you, Mr. Jordan," Waldron said, shaking hands beside the
car, "more than I can say to you. You have done me a greater kindness
than you know. Good-night--to you all!"
He went away with Julius without a glance behind after the salute of his
lifted hat, which included everybody.
By some common impulse the rest of the party all looked after the two as
they walked away toward the station door.
"Seems like an uncommonly nice chap," was Ashworth's comment. "I'll wager
he's something, somewhere."
"He has a very interesting face," his fiancee conceded.
"Yes, hasn't he?" Dorothy agreed lightly, something evidently being
expected of her.
"He may be the tenth wonder of the world," declared Ridgeway Jordan,
springing in to take his old place beside her for the drive of an eighth
of a mile left to him; "but I grudge him this hour by you. Jove, but I
thought the drive would never end!"
Julius, after seeing his friend off with a sense of comradeship more
worth while than any he had known, walked rapidly back, eager for a word
with Dorothy. Quick as he was, however, she was quicker, and he found her
locked into her own room. By insisting on talking through the door he got
her to open it, but there was not so much satisfaction in this as he had
expected, because she had extinguished her lights.
"How did you like him?" was his first eager question.
"Very well," said a cool, low voice in the darkness. "Much better than
the trick you used to carry out your wishes."
"Trick!" her brother exclaimed, all the angel innocence he could summon
in his voice. "When you wouldn't tell me a word of where you were going!"
"You guessed it. It was abominable of you."
"Oh, see here! If I hadn't managed it you wouldn't have seen him--and he
wouldn't have seen you."
"And what of that?" queried the cool voice, cool but sweet. Dot's voice,
even in real anger, was never harsh.
"Well, what of it?" was the counter-question. "Can you honestly say you
wish you hadn't met him, a real man like that?"
There was silence. Julius moved cautiously across the room, avoiding
chairs as best he could. "Be honest now. Isn't he the real thing?
And isn't Ridge Jordan--"
"Please don't talk about poor Ridge that way, Jule."
"Poor Ridge!" cried Julius. "Well, well, you didn't speak of him that way
this morning. What's happened?"
"Nothing has happened. That is--"
He came close. There was a queer little shake in Dorothy's voice. She
began to laugh then quite suddenly to cry. Julius came near enough to pat
her down-bent head.
"Did that confounded close call shake you up a bit?" he inquired
sympathetically. "By George! when I think what I let you and Kirke and
everybody in for, starting earlier than they meant and all that, so we
were just in time to meet that fool in the worst place on the road--"
Dorothy looked up. To his astonishment she sprang to her feet and clasped
him about the neck, burying her face on his shoulder. She began to say
something into his ear, laughing and crying at the same time, so that all
he was at length able to gather was that she didn't regret the close
call at all, for it had shown her--had shown her--
Julius had not seen Ridge Jordan make his move to spring from the car,
but he had felt it--felt Ridge's hand strike his shoulder, his knee hit
his back. He had not taken in its meaning at the instant, but when he had
turned about and seen Ridge sitting stiffly facing ahead it came to him
what had happened at the crisis. He had wondered whether Dot had seen it.
Now he knew. Not that she said it. In fact, she said nothing
intelligible, but she held her brother tight before she sent him away;
and somehow he understood that Fate had helped him to show Dorothy her
Somehow she had known that Waldron would write. It was impossible to
recall his face and not know that he was a man of action. He would not go
away for six months and leave behind him only a memory to hold her
thoughts to his. She wondered only when his letter would come.
Four times a day the postman was accustomed to leave the mail in an
interesting heap upon the table in Mrs. Jack Elliot's hall. Dorothy, from
the very morning after the trip to Saxifrage Inn, had found herself
scanning the pile with a curious sense of anticipation. She wondered what
Waldron's handwriting was like. She recalled his workmanlike little
figures upon the blackboard, and made up her mind that his penmanship
would be of a similar character, compact and regular. Another man would
have sent her flowers before he sailed. Instinctively she knew that
Waldron would not do this; she did not expect nor wish it. But he would
write--unquestionably. How would he write? That was the question which
made her pulses thrill.
It was some time before the letter came, as she had guessed it would be.
He had written on shipboard, and the letter came back to her from Greater
Inagua, the first West Indian island at which his ship had touched.
Coming in one September evening from a long walk through the hazy air,
its breath fragrant with the peculiar pungent odour of distant forest
fires, Dorothy found the letter on the hall table. She knew it was his
before she saw the postmark; recognized, as if she had often seen it, the
clean cut, regular lettering, the mark of the man of exactness and order,
of the well-trained mind. Her heart leaped at sight of it, a heart which
had never before really leaped at sight of any man's handwriting. She
picked up the letter and went away upstairs with it to her room. Here she
locked the door.
She placed the letter upon her dressing-table and studied its envelope
while she removed her dress, brushed and arranged her hair, and put on
the frock she intended to wear for the evening; she was going with Tom
Wendell to a small dance at the home of a special friend. She did not
open the letter, but left it, unopened, propped up against a little pink
silk pincushion, giving it one last glance as she switched off the light
before closing the door. On the evening of the Clifford-Jordan wedding
Ridgeway Jordan, brother of the bride and best man to the bridegroom, had
offered himself in marriage to the maid of honour, Dorothy Broughton. She
had done her best to prevent him, but he had reached such a stage of
despairing passion that he could no longer be managed and did the deed at
a moment when she could not escape. Being gently but firmly refused, he
had declared his life to be irretrievably ruined and immediately after
the wedding had flung himself out of town, vowing that she should not be
bothered with the sight of the work her hands had wrought. When another
long-time friend, Thomas Wendell, seized the opportunity of Ridge's
absence to further his own claims to Dorothy's preferment, she, profiting
by painful experience, had somehow made it clear to him that only
comradeship was in her thoughts. Even on these tacit terms Wendell was
eager to serve as escort whenever she would allow it.
On this September evening he was on hand early and bore her away with
ill-concealed satisfaction. "I say," he observed suddenly in the pause of
a waltz, "did you happen to have a fortune left you to-day?"
"Why, Tommy?" Dorothy's face grew instantly sober.
"Oh, don't turn off the illumination. I'm sorry I spoke. It was only that
you somehow seemed--well, not exactly unhappy to-night, and I couldn't
get at the cause. I should like to flatter myself that I'm the cause, but
I know better."
"I must be a gloomy person ordinarily if there seems any change
to-night. Don't be foolish, Thomas; I've had no fortune left me; I never
She felt not unlike one with a fortune, however, a fortune of unknown
character about to be made known to her, as, shortly after
midnight--Dorothy kept comparatively early hours when she went to
dances--she opened the door of her room again. Her first glance was for
the letter. There it stood as she had left it. More than once during the
evening she had caught herself fearing that something might happen to it
in her absence. She might find the letter gone--forever gone--and unread!
She smiled at it as she saw it standing there, but still she did not open
it. She took off her dancing frock, braided her hair for the night in two
heavy plaits, and slipped into a little loose gown of cambric, lace, and
ribbon before at last she approached the waiting letter.
Why she did all this, putting off the reading of it until the latest
possible moment, only a girl like Dorothy Broughton could have told. And
even when she broke the seal it was with apparently reluctant fingers. It
was so delightful not to know, yet to be upon the verge of knowing! But
as soon as the first words met her eyes there was no longer any delay.
She read rapidly, her glance drinking in the letter at a draught.
"ON BOARD S.S. "WESTERWALD," OFF GREATER INAGUA
"August 21, 19--
"DEAR DOROTHY BROUGHTON: The first time I saw you was the day you came to
school for the first time. You wore a blue sailor dress with a white
emblem on the sleeve, and your curly black hair was tied with red
ribbons. You did not see me that day--nor any other day for a long time.
I was simply not in your field of vision. That year I was wearing my
older brother's suit, and I had pressed him rather closely in inheriting
it, so that it was none too large for me. I remember that the sleeves
were a bit short. Anyhow, whether it was the fault of the suit or not, I
had a very indefinite idea what to do with my feet when they were not
in action, and even less at times when they were. I recall vividly that
there seemed to be a sort of ground swell between my desk and the
blackboard, so that I never could walk confidently and evenly from one to
the other. When by any chance I imagined your eyes were turned my way the
ground swell became a tidal wave.
"Once, just once, I was allowed to help you with a lesson. You were
unable to make head or tail of a problem in fractions; I don't think
figures were your strong point! Miss Edgewood began to show you; an
interruption came along. I happened to be at her elbow--I had a sort of
reputation for figures--she called on me to help you out. I remember that
at the summons my heart turned over twice, and its action after that was
irregular, affecting my breathing and making my hand shake. Luckily it
did not upset my brain, so that I was able to make the thing clear to
you. I dared not look at you! You did not get it at first and you stamped
your foot and said: "But I don't see any _sense_ to it!" I replied with a
tremendous effort at lightening the situation: "Plenty of cents, and
dollars, too!" At which you turned and gave me a look--at first of pride
and anger, then melting into appreciation of my wit, and ending by
blinding me with the beauty of your laughter! We went on from that
famously, and you saw the thing clearly and thanked me. I thought I knew
you then--had made myself a friend of yours. Next day, alas! you passed
me with a nod. But I never forgot what it might be like to know you.
"We are four days out from New York--shall call at Matthew Town to-day.
Another eight days will bring us to Puerto Colombia; then for the river
trip which will take me within thirty miles of the camp in the mountains.
When I am up at the mines I shall write again. My address will be Puerto
Andes, Colombia, the port of the Company. If some day, when I go down the
trail to send off my report, I should find a letter from you, I should go
back the happier.
"Meanwhile I am,
Dorothy went over and stood by the window, gazing out into the September
night. It was an unpretentious letter enough, but she liked it--liked it
very much. He had gone back to the beginning, picked up the one link
between them in their past, the fact that they had been schoolmates. He
had dared to remind her of his poverty, of his awkward schoolboy
personality, and of the fact that even in those days he had cared how she
might regard him. Well, as for the poverty, she knew his family; knew
that it was of good stock, that his parents were people of education and
refinement, and that circumstances wholly honourable had been the cause
of their lack of resources.
Should she answer the letter? How should she not answer it? Delay, then,
lest he think her too eager with her reply? Why?--when she knew as well
as he, and he as well as she, that the thing was already done, that the
mutual attraction had been of the sort which holds steadily to the end.
Yet, being a woman, she could not fling herself into his arms at the
first invitation. And indeed he had not invited. He had counted on her
wish to begin at the beginning and play the beautiful, thrilling play
through to the end, as if it were not already decided how it was to come
out. The fact that she knew how it was to come out would not make it
less the interesting play--in a world where, after all, strange things
happen, so that no man may see the end from the beginning, nor count
upon as inevitable an outcome which all the fates may combine to
threaten and to thwart.
So she delayed a little before she wrote. She let one ship, two ships,
sail without her message, so that it would not be at the first tramping
of the trail into Puerto Andes that he should find the letter. When it
finally left her hands it was a very little letter after all, and one
which it could not be imagined would take three days to write--as it had!
"DEAR MR. WALDRON: I think I know quite well that the little girl of the
curly black hair, red ribbons, and blue sailor dress was a very
audacious, pugnacious little person, and I wonder that you were willing
to help her through the tangle of fractions as you did so cleverly. I
well remember thinking you a very wonderful scholar, but you were so
much older than I that I admit not thinking about you very much. It was
like that small girl to stamp her ridiculous foot; she has gone on
stamping it, more or less, all her life. But I believe she has done some
"It will be very interesting to hear from the depths of Colombia; school
days are so far gone by I had to look it up on the map. Is it very hot
there, and do you live on bananas and breadfruit? I don't mind showing
how little I know, because then you may tell me about it. I am really
going to read up concerning South America at once, so that I may be an
intelligent if not a "gentle" reader.
"Very good luck to you there,
"Wished you by
As promptly as the return mails could bring her a reply one came,
although it was, of course, a matter of weeks. During those weeks Dorothy
had not only "read up" on the subject of South America with especial
reference to Colombia; she had also posted herself, so far as a general
reader may, concerning the rather comprehensive subject of mining
engineering. This knowledge helped her to an understanding of Waldron's
next letter. He gave her a brief but graphic description of his
surroundings in a camp upon the mountains, reached by a trail of nearly
thirty miles from Puerto Andes. Certain long-delayed and badly needed
machinery had arrived at ten o'clock of the previous evening, packed over
the trail by mules. This had been unloaded by three in the morning, and
the engineers had been so glad to see the stuff at last that they had
been unwilling to go at once to bed, tired as they were. The mail had
come in by the same route, and it had been by the smouldering campfire of
the early morning that Waldron had read his letter from Dorothy. "Such a
very short letter!" he said of it, and continued:
"Yet it was more welcome than you can guess. I had done a lot of
speculating as to what it would look like when it came--if it came--and
it looked not unlike what I had fancied. I was sure you wouldn't write
one of those tall, angular hands, ten words to a page, which remind one
of linked telegraph poles. Neither would you be guilty of that
commonplace little round script which school-children are taught now, and
which goes on influencing their handwriting all their days. There would
be character in it, thought I--and there was!
"It made me long for more--that letter! I wonder if you have the least
idea what it feels like to be off in a country like this, your only real
companion another engineer. Splendid fellow, Hackett, and I couldn't ask
a better; and the work is great. But there comes an hour now and then
when there seems more beauty in one small letter postmarked "home" than
in all the gorgeous sunsets of this wonderful country.
"May I write often and at length? I can think of no happier way to spend
the hour before we turn in than in writing to you. And if you will
answer my letters, as you have been so good as to do with my first one, I
shall have the most compelling reason of my life to watch the mails.
"I want--as I wanted when a schoolboy--"to know you." I want you to know
me. There is no way in which this can be accomplished for a long time to
come except by letters. Won't you agree to this regular interchange? I
don't mean that which I presume you mean when you say it will be
"interesting to hear from Colombia." You mean, I suppose, a letter now
and then, at the intervals which conventionality imposes at the beginning
of a correspondence, possibly shortening as time goes on, but taking at
least half a year to get under way. I want it to get under way at once!
We can receive mail but once a fortnight at the best up here, and there
are often delays. So if you answer my letters as soon as you get them I
shall not hear from you too often. Please!
"I am an engineer, you know; that means a fellow who is trained to
action--all the time. If he can't get results fast enough by working his
men by day he works them by night also--day-and-night shifts--and works
with them, too, much of the time. In that way--well, samples taken from
our south drift assay more than we had dared to hope a ton, but not till
we got well in. The vein may pinch out, of course, but there are no signs
of it. I expect it to widen instead, and grow richer in quality. So--if
you'll forgive the miner's analogy--with another vein I know of--the
finest sort of gold!"
So the correspondence began. It was easy for a young woman of Dorothy's
discernment to see that here was no case for a long-distance flirtation,
if she had wanted one. From the moment when she had flung her left hand
into Waldron's right, and that other moment when she had told him with
absolute truth that she was not afraid with him beside her, he had taken
her at her word. She could not play with him, even if he had been near
her; far less now that thousands of miles separated them. She answered
with a letter of twice the length of her first one, a gay little letter,
full of incident and her comments thereon. The reply came promptly, and
this time it was a long one. He told her many details of the situation as
it was developing in these new, extraordinarily promising mines; and she
found it as fascinating as a fairy tale. But, of course, although she
read these pages many times over, she read more often certain opening and
closing passages. One ran like this:
"Now to bed--and to work again with the dawn. While I am writing to you I
forget everything about me. Natives may chatter near me; I don't hear
them. My friend Hackett may come and fire a string of questions at me;
he tells me afterward my answers wouldn't do credit to a monkey on a
stick. I am lost in the attempt to put your face before me--your face as
I saw it last. There was not much light in the car, but what there was
fell on your face. I see rose colour always; what was it--the bonnet?--if
they call those things bonnets! I see more rose colour--reflection? I see
a pair of eyes which were not afraid to look into mine--for a minute;
only for a minute--but I can see them.
"The night grows cold. Even in the tropics the nights may be cold in
the mountains. My fire has burned down to a few coals. My bunk awaits
me; I thought I was tired when I sat down to write. I'm not tired
"Good-night! Sleep well--up there somewhere in the North!"
After this letter Dorothy Broughton went about like a girl in a dream.
Yet she was so practical a girl, had been so thoroughly trained to fill
her days with things worth while, that she was able to keep up a very
realistic appearance of being absorbed in the old round of duties and
pleasures. She was leading a life by no means idle or useless. As for the
happiness of it, she carried about with her a constant sense that
something wonderful had happened, was happening--and was yet to
happen--which made no task too hard for her newly vitalized spirit.
The day before Thanksgiving the arrival of a particularly thick letter
from Colombia gave her a more than ordinarily delightful sense of
anticipation. Her brother Julius, at home for the annual festival, saw it
upon the hall table three seconds before she did, and captured it. He
withdrew from his breast pocket another letter in a similar handwriting
addressed to himself. With an expression of great gravity he compared the
two while Dorothy held out her hand in vain.
"Don't be in a hurry," he advised her. "There is a curious likeness
between these two addresses--not to mention the envelopes--which
interests but baffles me. The word 'Broughton' in both cases begins with
an almost precisely identical B. The small t is crossed in almost exactly
the same manner--with a black bar of ink which indicates a lavish
disposition. The whole address upon your letter seems to me to bear a
close and remarkable resemblance to the address upon mine. Another point
which should not be overlooked: both are postmarked with a South American
stamp, a Colombian stamp, with--yes--with the same stamp. What can this
"When you are through with your nonsense--" Dorothy still extended her
hand for her letter.
Julius sat down upon the third step of the staircase, his countenance
indicating entire absorption in the comparison before him. He held the
letters in one hand; with his other he made it clear to his sister that
her nearer approach would be resisted. "There is one point where the
likeness fails," he mused. "My letter is an ordinary one as to thickness;
it consists of two meagre sheets of rather light-weight paper. Your
letter, on the other hand, strikes me as extraordinarily bulky. Now
"Jule, I'm busy. Will you please--"
"Just as I get on the trail of this thing you insist on diverting my
mind," her brother complained bitterly. He held the two letters at arm's
length, continuing to study them while his extended hand kept his sister
away. But she now turned and walked off down the hall.
He looked after her with a sparkle in his black eyes. "Sis," he
entreated, "don't go. I need your help. Have you by any chance an inkling
as to the sender of these curiously similar epistles?"
She turned. Her eyes were sparkling, too. She shook her head.
"I'll tell you what," cried the inspired Julius, "let's read 'em
together, paragraph by paragraph. Look here, I dare you to!" he suddenly
challenged her. "Mine first." Stuffing his sister's letter into his
pocket he spread forth his own. "I suppose you always read the last page
first," said he, "I've understood women do. So we'll begin at the last
She would have left him but he had walked over to her and now held her by
the wrist while he began to read. It was impossible for her eyes to
resist the drawing power of that now familiar penmanship.
"In this way forty-two miles of trail were cleared from ten to fourteen
feet wide, most of our efforts being concentrated on the grading,
bridges, and corduroying. Four pastures were cleaned out, of about
seven, six, and four cabullos each, or about twenty-three to twenty-six
acres in all. These pastures were burned and grass has started in most
of them. We built palm houses or shacks at each stopping-place. We feel
pretty well satisfied with the trail. You must not get the idea that we
have an automobile road, for we haven't, but we are now much better
prepared to handle supplies and machinery." Julius looked up. "Suppose
yours is as thrilling as that? Now for a paragraph of yours. Shall I
open it for you?"
But by a quick motion she escaped him and had the letter. She was
laughing as she slipped it into some unknown place about her dress.
"Now see here," Julius persisted, following her up the stairs. "I have to
look into this, as a brother. Judging by the bulk of that letter it is
not the first one from the same person. How long have you two been
corresponding in my absence and without my permission?"
Dorothy turned and faced him. Her face was full of vivid colour, but her
eyes were daring. "Since August."
"Hm! Does he write entertaining letters?"
"Gives you a full report of his operations, I suppose, with a dip into
the early history of the country and the result of his researches into
the Spanish settlement."
"Ever touch on anything personal?--mutually personal, I mean, of course."
Julius scanned her face. "He writes me," said he, "that instead of
staying only six months it's likely to be a year before he can come
North. The Company who picked him to go down and put this thing through
has decided to make a much bigger thing of it than was at first intended.
Too bad, eh? Fine for him; but a year's quite a stretch for a chap who,
as I recall it, went away with some reluctance--just at the last."
Dorothy met his intent eyes without flinching. "He is so interested in
his work I should say it was not too bad at all," she responded.
She then was allowed to make her escape, while Julius went back
downstairs, smiling to himself. "That shot told," he exulted.
In her room Dorothy opened her letter. If Julius's news were true she
would soon know it. Out of the envelope fell a small packet of
photographs, but it was not their presence alone which had made it so
bulky. The letter itself was three times as long as her brother's.
Dorothy eagerly examined the photographs which had fallen out of Kirke
Waldron's letter. They had been taken all about his camp in Colombia and
the surrounding country, picturing the progress that had been made in the
development of the mines. In one or two of the pictures, showing groups
of native workmen, she made out Waldron's figure, usually presenting him
engaged in conversation, his back turned to the lens. But one picture had
been taken in front of his own shack with its palm-leaf thatching. He was
standing by the door, leaning against the lintel, dressed in his working
clothes, pipe in hand, looking straightforwardly out of the picture at
her and smiling a little. The figure was that of a strong, well-built,
outdoors man, the face full of character and purpose, lighted by humour.
The steady eyes seemed very intent upon her, and it was a little
difficult for her to remind herself that it was undoubtedly his fellow
engineer and friend, Hackett, at whom he was gazing with so much
friendliness of aspect rather than at her far-away self.
The letter, however, toward its close set her right upon this point. He
had told her of his decision to stay and see the full development of the
mine through, in spite of the wrench it cost him to think of remaining a
year without a break. Then, going on to describe the taking of the
photograph, he had written:
"The Company is very glad to get as much as we can send it of actual
illustration of our labours, so we make it a point to snap these scenes
from time to tune. There is one picture, however, which was not taken
for the Company. Hackett asked me to hold the lens on him for a shot to
send to somebody up North there, so he went inside and freshened up a
bit and came out grinning. I grinned back as I took the picture, and
said I was glad to see him so cheerful. He replied that the smile was
not for me--that though he had apparently looked at me he had really
been looking through me at a person about as different from myself as I
could well imagine.
"It's a poor rule that doesn't work both ways, so I then took my place by
the door of our palatial residence, and gazed--apparently--at Hackett's
Indian-red visage. I found it entirely possible to forget, as he had
done, the chap before me, and see instead--well--look at the picture! And
please don't let those lashes drop too soon. When I imagine them they
It was thus that the correspondence went on. Dorothy never replied
directly to such paragraphs as these, but she did send him, a few
weeks after the arrival of the Colombian photographs, a little
snapshot of herself taken in winter costume as she was coming down the
steps of her home. It was an exquisite bit of portraiture, even though
of small proportions, and it called forth the most daring response he
had yet made:
"I know you wouldn't want it pinned up in the shack, and it's much too
valuable to risk leaving it among my other possessions there. So I carry
it about in an old leather letter case in my pocket. I hope you don't
mind. I'm a little afraid of wearing it out, so I've constructed a sort
of a frame for it, out of a heavy linen envelope, which will bear
handling better than the little picture.... You are looking straight out
at me--at _me_? I wish I knew it! Won't you tell me--Dorothy? You can
trust me--can't you? There are some things which can't be said at long
distance; they must wait. I get to feeling like a storage battery
sometimes--overcharged! Meanwhile, trust me--Dorothy!"
But she would send him only this:
"Of course I was looking at you. Why not? It's only courtesy to recognize
the salutation of a gentleman disguised in working clothes, standing in
the door of a queer-looking South American residence. Besides--he looks
rather well, I think!"
One April evening Mr. Julius Broughton, sitting comfortably in his room
in a certain well-known building at a well-known university, was summoned
to telephone. Bringing his feet to the floor with a thump, flinging aside
his book and puffing away at his pipe, he lounged unwillingly to the
telephone box. The following conversation ensued, causing a sudden and
distinct change in the appearance of the young man.
"Broughton," he acknowledged the call. "Broughton? This is
"Waldron; up from Colombia, South America. Forgotten me?"
"What! Forgotten you! I say--when did you come? Where are you?
The distant voice cut in sharply: "Hold on. I've just about one minute to
spend talking. Can you come downtown to the Warrington Street Station? If
you'll be there at ten, sharp, under the south-side clock, I can see you
for ten minutes before I leave for the train. I want to see you very
much. Explain everything then."
"Of course I'll come; delighted! Be right down. But aren't you
"I'll explain later," said Waldron's decisive voice again. "Sorry to ring
off now. Good-bye."
"Well, great George Washington!" murmured Julius to himself as he
replaced the receiver on the hook and reinserted his pipe in his mouth,
to emit immediately thereafter a mighty puff of smoke. "I knew the
fellow was a hustler, but I should suppose that when he comes up from
South America to telephone he might spend sixty or seventy seconds at it.
Must be a sudden move; no hint of it in his last letter."
He consulted his watch. He would have to emulate Waldron's haste if he
reached the Warrington Street Station by ten o'clock. He made a number of
rapid moves, resulting in his catching a through car which bore him
downtown at express speed and landed him in the big station at a minute
before ten. Hurrying through the crowd he came suddenly face to face with
the man he sought.
Tanned to a seasoned brown, and looking as vigorous as a lusty pine tree,
Waldron shook hands warmly.
But before Julius had more than begun his expressions of pleasure at
seeing his friend again so unexpectedly Waldron turned and indicated a
young man's figure in a wheelchair. "That's my friend and associate
engineer, Hackett, over there. He's had a very bad illness and I'm taking
him home. We'll go over and speak to him in a minute. Meanwhile, I shall
have to talk fast. First--is your sister Dorothy well?" The direct gaze
had in it no apology for speaking thus abruptly.
"Fine," Julius assured him. "Haven't you heard from her lately?"
"Not since I sailed--naturally--nor for a fortnight before that. I came
away very unexpectedly, sooner than I should have done but for Hackett,
who needed to get home. But the trip combines that errand with a lot of
business--seeing the Company directors, consulting with the firm, looking
up machinery and getting it shipped back with me on the next boat. I
haven't an hour to spare anywhere but on this flying trip to Hackett's
home, which will take twenty-four hours, and I shall have to work night
and day. And--I want to see your sister."
Again the direct look, accompanied this time, by a smile which was
like a sudden flash of sunshine, as Julius well remembered. Waldron
did not smile too often, but when he did smile--well, one wanted to do
what he asked.
"Does she know?" Julius demanded.
"Not a word; there was no way to let her know except to cable, and
I--have no right to send her cable orders--or requests. Broughton, as I
figure it out, I have just one chance to see her, and that only with your
cooperation--and hers. I don't believe I need explain to you that it
seems to me I must see her; going back without it is unthinkable. I don't
know when I may be North again. Yet I can't neglect Hackett or my duty to
"Then--how the dickens--"
"I shall be coming back on the train that reaches this station at two
o'clock Saturday morning. It will go through your home city at midnight.
Would it be possible for you and Miss Dorothy to take that train when it
leaves Boston Friday night, and so give me the time between there and
Julius Broughton, born plotter and situation maker as he was, rose to the
occasion gallantly. It tickled him immensely, the whole idea. He spent
five seconds in consideration, his eye fixed on the lapel of Waldron's
coat; then he spoke:
"Leave it to me. I'll have to figure it out how to get around Dot. You
mustn't think she's going to jump at the chance of going to meet a man
instead of having him come to meet her. She's used to having the men
do the travelling, you know, while she stays at home and forgets
"I know. And you know--and I think she knows also--that only necessity
would make me venture to ask such a favour."
"I may have to scheme a bit--"
"No, please don't. I prefer not to spend the time between stations
explaining the scheming and apologizing for it. Put it to her frankly,
letting her understand the situation--"
Julius shook his head. "She's not used to it. She'll find it hard to
understand why you couldn't stop off and get out to our place, if only
for an hour."
"Then show her this."
Waldron took from his breast pocket a card, on which, in very small,
close writing and figures, was a concise schedule of his engagements for
the coming five days, and, as he had said, nights.
Julius scanned it, and whistled softly a bar from a popular song, "Now Do
You See?" "Do eating and sleeping happen to come in on this anywhere?" he
"On the run. It's this trip up into New Hampshire that's crowding things;
otherwise, I might have managed it very well."
"Couldn't anybody else have seen Mr.--Hackett home?" asked Julius.
"No." Waldron's tone settled that and left no room for dispute. "There
are some things that can't be done, you know, and that's one of them." He
glanced at the great clock over his head. "Come over and meet him."
A long, thin figure, wrapped in an ulster, reached out a hand, and a
determinedly cheerful voice said, with an evident effort not to show the
severe fatigue the journey was costing the convalescent: "Think of me as
Sackett or Jackett or something. I'm no Hackett; they're a huskier lot."
"As you will be soon, of course," Julius broke in confidently.
"Colombia air is pretty fine, but New Hampshire air is better--for old
New Hampshire boys," asserted Waldron. He nodded at a red-capped
porter waiting near, and laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. "This
chap is going to be all right when he gets where a certain little
mother can look after him. Mothers and blood poisoning don't assimilate
a bit. And now we have to be off, for I want to get my patient settled
in his berth before the train pulls out, and it's going to be called in
about thirty seconds."
He turned aside for a final word with Julius. "I'm not asking too much?"
"Do you think you are?"
The two pairs of eyes searched each other.
"I know Miss Dorothy is an orphan; I know, too, that you are her only
brother. You understand that I mean to ask her to marry me, if I can have
the chance. I couldn't do it--on paper. If you approve the match--and I
think you do or you wouldn't have planned quite so cleverly last July--"
"You brought about that meeting, you know," said Waldron, smiling, with
such a penetrating look that Julius felt it go past all defenses.
"How do you know I did?"
"By a certain peculiar twist to your left eyebrow when that train came in
from the wrong direction. You forget that I went to school with you. I
have seen that twist before; it meant only one thing."
"Well, I'll be--see here, it was after dark when that train--"
"The hotel hand had a lantern. You unwisely allowed its rays to strike
Julius burst into a smothered laugh. "Well, you're a good one!"
"I'm glad you think so--since I'm asking of you this thing you so
dislike to do."
"I don't dislike it; I'm delighted to have the chance. I'll have her on
that train if I have to blindfold her."
"Don't do that. Show her the card."
The two shook hands with a strong grip of affection and understanding.
Then Waldron, wheeling the chair himself, took his friend Hackett away as
carefully as if he were convoying a baby. Julius, after seeing the party
through the gates, went back to his college rooms, his wits busy with the
task which so took hold of his fancy.
Julius would have enjoyed scheming involvedly, but Waldron had been too
peremptory about that to allow of a particle of intrigue. So, before he
slept, he sent his sister a special-delivery letter knowing she would
receive it in the morning. It stated, after describing the situation to
her (with a few private and characteristic touches of his own), that he
would call her up by telephone to receive her reply, and that he would
go through the city on a certain afternoon train on which she was to
join him. This plan would give the pair time for a leisurely dinner in
Boston before meeting Waldron upon the ten o'clock train. When he had
Dorothy on the wire next morning he was not surprised that her first
words were these:
"Julius--is it surely Julius? Well--I don't see how I can go!"
"Why not? Got the mumps--or any other disfiguring complaint?"
"Mercy, no! But--it can't be that it is necessary! He--he certainly
"Did you read that schedule?"
Julius's voice had in it a commanding, no-compromise quality. He knew
that this feminine evasiveness was probably inevitable; they were made
that way, these girls; but he did not intend to let the time limit of an
expensive long-distance call be exceeded by mere nonsense.
"Now listen. We've got three minutes to talk; we've used thirty seconds
already saying nothing. I'm going to be on that train. I'm going to have
that little trip with Kirke, and if you don't have it, it will be pure
foolishness; and you'll cry your eyes out afterward to think you didn't.
He can't get to you; if he could he'd do it; you must know him well
enough for that if you've been hearing from him all these months.
Now--will you be there?"
"Julius! I'm afraid I--"
"Will you be there?"
"Why--don't you think I--perhaps I ought to have Bud--"
"No, I don't. I'm all the chaperon you'll need for this affair. If you go
and get another woman mixed up with it you'll lose half of your fun, for
she'll be sure to forget she's the chaperon--you know Bud--and first you
know you'll be chaperoning her. See? Will you be at the station? I'm
going to hang up now in just fifteen seconds!"
"All right! I'll telephone down for the seats. Good-bye!"
He was on the vestibuled platform of his car to meet her when his train
passed the home city from whose suburbs she had come in. His eager eye
fell delightedly on the trimly modish figure his sister presented; he
would be proud to take her back into his car. He knew just how two or
three sleepy fellows of his own age, in chairs near his own, would sit up
when they saw him return with this radiant girl. Dot certainly knew how
to get herself up, he reflected, as he had often done before.
It was April and it was "raining cats and dogs" as Dorothy came aboard,
but the blue rainproof serge of her beautifully fitting suit was little
the worse therefor, and the close little black hat with the fetching
feather was one to defy the elements, be they never so wildly springlike.
"You're a good sport!" was Julius's low-pitched greeting as he kissed
her, the tail of his eye on one of his young fellow-passengers who had
followed him to the platform for a breath of fresh air and stood with his
hands in his pockets staring at the pretty girl close by.
"I feel like a buccaneer--or a pirate--or something very bold and wild
and adventurous," she returned.
"You don't look it--except in your eye. I think I do see there the gleam
of a desperate resolve." He bent over her devotedly as he put her in her
chair, noting the effect on the young gentlemen who had been too slothful
to leave the car, but who now, as he had predicted to himself, were
"sitting up," both physically and mentally, as they covertly eyed his new
travelling companion. "I admit it takes courage for a New England girl to
start out to meet a barbarian from the wilds of South America,
unchaperoned except by a perfectly good brother."
"If I could be sure the brother would be perfectly good--" she
suggested, smiling at him as she slightly altered the position of her
chair so that the attentive fellow-travellers were moved out of her line
"I'm sworn to rigorous virtue," he replied solemnly. "He attended to that
Dorothy looked out of the window. She looked out of the window most of
the way to Boston, so that the interested youths opposite were able to
enjoy only the averted line of her profile.
Julius, however, took delight in playing the lover for their benefit, and
his attention to his sister would have deceived the elect. The result was
a considerably heightened colour in Dot's face, which added the last
touch of charm to the picture and completed her brother's satisfaction.
Arrived in the city, Broughton treated his sister to a delicious
little dinner at a favourite hotel, which he himself relished to the
full. He questioned whether she knew what she was eating or its quality,
but she maintained an appearance of composure which only herself knew
was attained at a cost.
He then escorted her to a florist's and himself insisted upon pinning
upon the blue serge coat a gorgeous corsage knot of deep-hued red
roses and mignonette, which added to her quiet costume the one
brilliant note that was needed to bring out her beauty as his artistic
young eye approved.
She protested in vain. "I don't want to wear flowers--to-night, my
"Why not? There's nothing conspicuous about that, these days. More
conspicuous not to, you might say. You often do it yourself."
"I know, but--to-night!"
"He won't know what you have on. He's slightly delirious at this very
minute, I have no doubt at all. When he sees you he'll go off his head.
Oh, nobody'll know it to look at him; you needn't be afraid of that."
"Please stop talking about it," commanded his sister. But she did not
refuse to wear the red roses. No sane young woman could after having
caught a glimpse of herself in the florist's mirror. Even an indifferent
shopgirl stared with interest after the pair as they left the place,
wondering if, after all, flowers weren't more effective on the quiet
swells than on those of the dashing attire.
"We're to meet him on the train, not in the station," Julius observed, as
he hurried his sister across the great concourse. "He has to make rather
a close connection. So we'll be in our seats when he arrives. Or, better
yet, we'll get back on the observation platform and see him when he comes
out the gates. That'll give you the advantage of the first look!"
Their car, it turned out, was the end one and their seats at the rear
end, as Julius had tried to arrange but had not been sure of
accomplishing. Dorothy followed him through the car and out upon the
platform. Here the two watched the crowds hurrying through the gates
toward their own and other trains, while the minutes passed. Julius,
watch in hand, began to show signs of anxiety.
"He'd better be showing up soon," he announced as the stream of oncoming
passengers began to thin. "It's getting pretty close to--There he is
though! Good work. Come on, old fellow, don't be so leisurely! By George,
that's not Kirke after all! Those shoulders--I thought it certainly was.
But he'll come--oh, he'll come all right or break a leg trying!"
But he did not come. The last belated traveller dashed through the gates,
the last signal was given, the train began very slowly to move.
"He's missed the connection," said Julius solemnly. "But we'll hear from
him at the first stop; certainly we'll hear from him. We'll go inside the
car and be prepared to answer up."
But neither at the first stop nor the second did the porter appear with
a message for Mr. Broughton or for Miss Broughton, or for anybody
Dorothy sat quietly looking out of the window into the darkness, her
cheek supported by her hand and shaded from her brother. She was
perfectly cheerful and composed, but Julius guessed rightly enough that
it was not a happy hour for her. She had come more than half-way to meet
a man who had asked it of her, only to have him fail to appear. Of course
there was an explanation--of course; but--well, it was not a happy hour.
The red roses on her breast drooped a very little; their counterparts in
her cheeks paled slowly as the train flew on. An hour went by.
Some miles after stopping at a station the train slowed down again.
"Where are we?" queried Julius, peering out of the window, his hand
shading his eyes. "Nowhere in particular, I should say."
The train stopped, began to move again, backing; it presently became
apparent that it was taking a siding.
"That's funny for this train," said Julius, and went out on the rear
platform to investigate.
In a minute or two another train appeared in the distance behind, rushed
on toward them, slowed down not quite to a stop, and was instantly under
way again. A minute later their own train began to move once more.
"Perhaps he's chartered a special and caught up," said Julius, returning
to his sister. "Perhaps he's made so much money down in Colombia that he
can afford to hire specials. That was a special, all right--big engine
and one Pullman. We wouldn't be sidetracked for anything less important,
I'm quite sure."
He stretched himself comfortably in his chair again with a furtive
glance at his sister. He sat with his back to the car, facing her. He now
saw her look down the car with an intent expression; then suddenly he saw
the splendid colour surge into her face. Her eyes took fire--and Julius
swung about in his chair to find out the cause. Then he sprang up, and if
he did not shout his relief and joy it was because well-trained young
men, even though they be not yet out of college, do not give vent to
their emotions in public.
"By George!" he said under his breath. "How in time has he made it?"
But Waldron, as he came back through the car, was not looking at Julius.
Dorothy had risen and was standing by her chair, and though the newly
arrived traveller shook hands with Julius as he met him in the aisle, it
was only to look past him at the figure at the back of the car. The next
instant his hand had grasped hers, and he was gazing as straight down
into her eyes as a man may who has seen such eyes for the last nine
months only in his dreams. "You came!" he said; and there were wonder
and gratitude and joy in his voice, so that it was not quite steady.
She nodded. "There seemed to be nothing else to do," she answered, and
her smile was enchanting.
"Did you want to do anything else?"
There must certainly have been something about him which inspired
honesty. Quite naturally, from the feminine point of view, Dorothy would
have liked not to answer this direct and meaning question just then. But,
as once before, the necessity of speaking to this man only the truth was
instantly strong upon her. Deep down, evade the issue as she might by
saying that she would have preferred to have him come to her, she knew
that she was glad to do this thing for him, since the other had been
So she lifted her eyes for an instant and let him see her answer before
she slowly shook her head, while the quick breath she could not wholly
control stirred the red roses on her breast.
"Now see here, old man," said Julius Broughton, "I know the time is
short and all that, and I'm going to spend this next hour in the
smoking-room and let you two have a chance to talk. But before I go my
natural curiosity must be satisfied or I shall burst. Am I to
understand that that gilt-edged special that passed us just now brought
you to your appointment? And are you King of Colombia down there, or
anything like that?"
Waldron turned, laughing. His browned cheek had a touch of a still warmer
colour in it, his eyes were glowing.
"That certainly was wonderful luck," said he. "I reached the gate just as
the tail-lights of this train were disappearing. As I turned away a man
at my elbow asked if I minded missing it. I said I minded so much that
if I could afford it I would hire a special to catch it. He said, very
much as if he had been offering me a seat in his motor, that a special
was to leave in a few minutes and that it would pass this train somewhere
within an hour. He turned out to be the president of the road. We had a
very interesting visit on the way down--or it would have been interesting
if it had happened at any other tune. I was so busy keeping an eye out
for sidetracked trains that I now and then lost the run of the
"If the president of the road hadn't turned up," suggested Julius, "would
you mind saying what other little expedient would have occurred to you?"
"I should have wired you, begging you to give me one more chance,"
admitted Waldron. "I should have wired you anyway, if I hadn't felt
that it would have spoiled my dramatic entrance at some siding. And I
wanted all the auxiliaries on my side."
Julius went away into the smoking compartment forward with a sense of
having had Fate for the second time take a hand in a more telling
management of other people's affairs than even he, with all his love of
pulling wires, could effect. He looked back as he went, to see Waldron
taking Dorothy out upon the observation platform.
"It's lucky it's a mild April night," he said to himself. "I suppose it
wouldn't make any difference if a northeast blizzard were on."
"Will it chill the roses?" Waldron asked with a smile as he closed the
door behind them, shutting himself and Dorothy out into the cool, wet
freshness of the night, where the two gleaming rails were slipping fast
away into the blackness behind and only distant lights here and there
betokened the existence of other human beings in a world that seemed
"It wouldn't matter if it did," she answered.
"Wouldn't it? Can you possibly feel, as I do, that nothing in the world
matters, now that we are together again?"
Again the direct question. But somehow she did not in the least mind
answering; she wanted to answer. The time was so short!
With other men Dorothy Broughton had used every feminine art of
evasion and withdrawal at moments of crisis, but she could not use
them with this man.
She shook her head, laying one hand against her rose-red cheek, like a
shy and lovely child--yet like a woman, too.
He gently took the hand away from the glowing cheek, and kept it
fast in his.
"I fell desperately in love with you when I was fifteen," said Kirke
Waldron. "I carried the image of you all through my boyhood and into
manhood. I saw you at different times while you were growing up, although
you didn't see me. I kept track of you. I thought you never could be for
me. But when we met last summer I knew that if I couldn't have you I
should never want anybody. And when--something happened that made you
glad for just a minute to be with me, I knew I should never let you go.
Then you gave me that last look and I dared to believe that you could be
made to care. Dorothy--they were pretty poor letters from a literary
point of view that I've been sending you all these months, but I tried to
put myself into them so that you could know just what sort of fellow I
was. And I tried to make you see, without actually telling you, what you
were to me. Did I succeed?"
"They were fine letters," said Dorothy Broughton. "Splendid, manly
letters. I liked them very much. I--loved them!"
"Oh!" said Kirke Waldron, and became suddenly silent with joy.
After a minute he looked up at the too brilliant electric lights which
flooded the platform. He glanced in at the occupants of the car, nearly
all facing forward, except for one or two who were palpably
asleep--negligible certainly. Then he put his head inside the door,
scanning the woodwork beside it. He reached upward with one hand and in
the twinkling of an eye the observation platform was in darkness.
"Oh!" breathed Dorothy in her turn. But the next thing that happened was
the thing which might have been expected of a resourceful young mining
engineer, trained, as he himself had said, "to action--all the time!"