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By and by, however, he came to a part of the wood-lane where men had fallen by the score, and bodies had been covered in twos, threes, and dozens. His head felt as if his very wool were straightening itself out, as he wound here and there and zigzagged in all directions lest he should step on or over a grave. A breeze stirred the forest as if all the thousands buried in its shades had heaved a long deep sigh. With chattering teeth Jeff stopped to listen, then, reassured, continued to pick his tortuous way. Suddenly there was an ominous rustling in a thicket just behind. He broke into a headlong flight across and over everything, when the startled grunt of a hog revealed the prosaic nature of this spook. Scarcely any other sound could have been more reassuring. The animal suggested bacon and hominy and hoe-cake, everything except the ghostly. He berated himself angrily:
Such a sigh escaped her that one might think her heart and hope were going with it. The supreme moment of meeting had come and gone, and he did not know her; she saw and felt in her inmost soul that he did not. The brief and illusive gleam into the past was projected only from the present, resulting from what he had been told, not from what he recalled.
"Why, cert'ny. The doctor tole me 'bout you."
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."下载
His next task was to discover some kind of a passageway from the mine road to a point on the main highway, leading to the west and out of the mountains. He found no better resource than to strike directly into the forest and travel by points of the compass. Fortunately, the trees were lofty and comparatively open, and he encountered no worse difficulties than some steep and rugged descents, and at last emerged on the post road at least a mile to the west of the tavern, which stood near its intersection with the mine road; Returning, he again marked out a path with paper as he had before. The sun was now low in the sky; and as he trotted toward the mine, he had but one more precaution to take, and that was to find a place where the trees were sufficiently open to permit him to ride into their shade at night in case he wished to avoid parties upon the road. Having indicated two or three such spots by a single bit of paper that would glimmer in the moonlight, he joined Mr. Alford at supper, feeling that his preparations were nearly complete. When they were alone, he told his host that it would be best not to gratify his curiosity, for then he could honestly say that he knew nothing of any detective's plans or whereabouts.下载
That sagacious damsel had been meditating on the proposed alliance. Even in her rather sophisticated mind she had regarded a semblance of love as essential; but since Jeff had put everything on such superior grounds, she felt that she should prove herself fit for new and exalted conditions of life by seeing to it that he made good all his remarkable promises. She remembered that he had not yet opened the box of money, and became a little sceptical as to its contents. Somebody might have watched Jeff, and have carried it off.下载
In this growing disposition she had no innate repugnance to overcome, nor the shrinking which can neither be defined nor reasoned against. Accustomed to see him almost daily from childhood, conscious for years that he was giving her a love that was virtually homage, she found her heart growing very compassionate and ready to yield the strong, quiet affection which she believed might satisfy him. This had come about through no effort on her part, from no seeking on his, but was the result of circumstances, the outgrowth of her best and most unselfish feelings.下载
Never before had he made such time down a mountain, for he had a certain kind of consciousness that he was not only going after the doctor, but also after the girl. Securing a stout horse and wagon at the hotel, he drove furiously for the surgeon, explained the urgency, and then, with the rural healer at his side, almost killed the horse in returning.下载
"Ah, how little you all understand me! The moment you give me a chance to act I can be as calm as you are. It's this waiting, this torturing suspense that I cannot endure. Hobart would not have permitted it. He knows, he understands. Every effort will fail till Albert sees me. It will be a cause for lasting gratitude to us both that I should be the one to restore him. Now let me manage. My heart will guide me better than your science."