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The Rise of Roscoe Paine By Joseph Crosby Lincoln Characters: 10755

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


They left me soon after this. I tried to make them tell who the mysterious friend might be, but they refused. The kind things they said and the gratitude they both expressed I shall never forget. They did not strenuously urge me to return to the bank, and that seemed strange to me.

"The job's yours if you want it, Ros," said Captain Jed. "We'd be only too happy to have you if you'd come-any time, sooner or later. But I don't think you will."

"No," I answered, "I shall not. I have made other plans. I am going to leave Denboro."

That did not seem to surprise them and I was still more puzzled. They shook hands and went away, promising to call at the house that evening and bring Nellie.

"She wants to thank you, too, Ros," said George.

After they had gone I sat by the big door, looking out at the bay, smooth and beautiful in the afternoon sunlight, and thinking of what they had told me. For Mother's sake I was very glad. It would be easier for her, after I had gone; the townspeople would be friendly, instead of disagreeable. For her sake, I was glad. For myself nothing seemed to make any difference. George Taylor's words-those he had spoken to me that fateful evening when I found him with the revolver beside him-came back to me over and over. "Wait until your time comes. Wait until the girl comes along that you care for more than the whole world. And then see what you'd do. See what it would mean to give her up!"

I was seeing. I knew now what it meant.

I rose and went out of the boathouse. I did not care to meet anyone or speak with anyone. I strolled along the path by the bluff, my old walk, that which I had taken so many times and with such varied feelings, never with such miserable ones as now.

The golden-rod, always late blooming on the Cape, bordered the path with gorgeous yellow. The leaves of the scrub oaks were beginning to turn, though not to fall. I walked on and entered the grove where she and I had met after our adventure with Carver and the stranded skiff. I turned the bend and saw her coming toward me.

I stood still and she came on, came straight to me and held out her hand.

"I was waiting for you," she said. "I was on my way to your house and I saw you coming-so I waited."

"You waited," I stammered. "Why?"

"Because I wished to speak to you and I did not want that-that Mr. Rogers of yours to interrupt me. Why did you go away yesterday without even letting me thank you for what you had done? Why did you do it?"

"Because-because you were very busy and-and I was tired. I went home and to bed."

"You were tired. You must have been. But that is no excuse, no good one. I came down and found you were gone without a word to me. And you had done so much for me-for my father!"

"Your father thanked me this morning, Miss Colton. I saw him in his room and he thanked me. I did not deserve thanks. I was lucky, that was all."

"Father does not call it luck. He told me what you said to him."

"He told you! Did he tell you all I told him?"

"I-I think so. He told me who you were; what your real name was."

"He did! And you were still willing to meet me!"

"Yes. Why not? Does it make any difference that you are Mr. Bennett-instead of Mr. Paine?"

"But my father was Carleton Bennett-the-the-You must have heard of him."

"I never knew your father. I do know his son. And I am very proud to know him."

"But-but, Miss Colton."

"Tell me," she interrupted, quickly, "have you seen Mr. Taylor? He is here in Denboro."

"Yes. I have seen him."

"And he told you about the Lane? That he has bought it?"

"Yes."

"And you will not be," with a smile, "driven from Denboro by that cross old Captain Dean?"

"I shall not be driven-no."

"Then Mr. Taylor did help you. He promised me he would."

"He promised you? When? When did you see George Taylor?"

She appeared confused. "I-I-Of course I saw him at the house this noon, when he came to see Father."

"But he could not have promised you then. He had helped me already. Did you see him before that?"

"Why, how could I? I-"

"Miss Colton, answer me. Was it you that met him at the Ostable station this morning? Was it?"

She was as red as the reddest of the autumn leaves. She laughed, confusedly.

"I did meet him there," she confessed. "That queer Mr. Cahoon, the station agent, told me that Captain Dean had telegraphed him to come. I knew he would probably be on that train. And Mr. Cahoon told me about his being interested in stocks and very much troubled. You had told me, or as much as told me, that you sold the land to get money to help some one. I put two and two together and I guessed the rest. I met him and Nellie and we rode to Denboro together in our auto. He promised me that he would make everything right for you. I am so glad he did!"

I caught my breath with a gasp.

"You did that!" I exclaimed. "You did that, for me!"

"Why not? Surely you had done enough for-us. I could not let you be 'driven from town', you know."

I did not speak. I knew that I must not attempt a reply. I should say too much. She looked up at me, and then down again at the pine-needles beneath our feet.

"Father says he intends to do great things for you," she went on. "He says you are to come with him. He is enthusiastic about it. He believes you are a great man. No one but a great ma

n, he says, could beat the Consolidated Pacific gang single-handed. He says you will be the best investment he ever made."

"I am afraid not," I answered. "Your father made me a generous offer. I wish I might have been able to accept it, but I could not."

"Oh, but you are going to accept."

"No, I am not."

"He says you are. And he always has his way, you know."

"Not in this case, Miss Colton."

"But I want you to accept. Surely you will do it to oblige me."

"I-I can't."

"What are you going to do; go back to the bank?"

"No, I am going to leave Denboro. I don't know where I shall go. This is good-by, Miss Colton. It is not likely that we shall meet again."

"But why are you going?"

"I cannot tell you."

She was silent, still looking down at the pine-needles. I could not see her face. I was silent also. I knew that I ought to go, that I should not remain there, with her, another moment. Yet I remained.

"So you think this is our parting," she said. "I do not."

"Don't you? I fear you are wrong."

"I am not wrong. You will not go away, Mr.-Bennett. At least, you will not until you go where my father sends you. You will accept his offer, I think."

"You are mistaken."

"No. I think I am not mistaken. I think you will accept it, because-because I ask you to."

"I cannot, Miss Colton."

"And your reason?"

"That I cannot tell anyone."

"But you told my father."

I was stricken dumb again.

She went on, speaking hurriedly, and not raising her eyes.

"You told my father," she repeated, "and he told me."

"He told you!" I cried.

"Yes, he told me. I-I am not sure that he was greatly surprised. He thought it honorable of you and he was very glad you did tell him, but I think he was not surprised."

The oaks and the pines and the huckleberry bushes were dancing great giddy-go-rounds, a reflection of the whirlpool in my brain. Out of the maelstrom I managed to speak somehow.

"He was not surprised!" I repeated. "He was not-not-What do you mean?"

She did not answer. She drew away from me a step, but I followed her.

"Why wasn't he surprised?" I asked again.

"Because-because-Oh, I don't know! What have I been saying! I-Please don't ask me!"

"But why wasn't he surprised?"

"Because-because-" she hesitated. Then suddenly she looked up into my face, her wonderful eyes alight. "Because," she said, "I had told him myself, sir."

I seized her hands.

"YOU had told him? You had told him that I-I-"

"No," with a swift shake of the head, "not you. I-I did not know that-then. I told him that I-"

But I did not wait to hear any more.

Some time after that-I do not know how long after and it makes no difference anyway-I began to remember some resolutions I had made, resolves to be self-sacrificing and all that sort of thing.

"But, my dear," I faltered, "I am insane! I am stark crazy! How can I think of such a thing! Your mother-what will she say?"

She looked up at me; looking up was not as difficult now, and, besides, she did not have to look far. She looked up and smiled.

"I think Mother is more reconciled," she said. "Since she learned who you were she seems to feel better about it."

I shook my head, ruefully. "Yet she referred to me as a 'nobody' only this morning," I observed.

"Yes, but that was before she knew you were a Bennett. The Bennetts are a very good family, so she says. And she informed me that she always expected me to throw myself away, so she was not altogether unprepared."

I sighed. "Throwing yourself away is exactly what you have done, I'm afraid," I answered.

She put her hand to my lips. "Hush!" she whispered. "At all events, I made a lucky throw. I'm very glad you caught me, dear."

There was a rustle of leaves just behind us and a startled exclamation. I turned and saw Lute Rogers standing there in the path, an expression on his face which I shall not attempt to describe, for no description could do justice to it. We looked at Lute and he looked at us.

He was the first to recover.

"My time!" exclaimed Lute. "My TIME!"

He turned and fled.

"Come here!" I shouted after him. "Come back here this minute! Lute, come back!"

Lute came, looking shamefaced and awkward.

"Where were you going?" I demanded.

"I-I was cal'latin' to go and tell Dorindy," he faltered.

"You'll tell nobody. Nobody, do you hear! I'll tell Dorinda myself, when it is necessary. What were you doing here? spying on me in that fashion."

"I-I wan't spyin', Ros. Honest truth, I wan't. I-I didn't know you and she was-was-"

"Never mind that. What were you doing here?"

"I was chasin' after you, Ros. I just heard the most astonishing thing. Jed Dean was to the house to make Dorindy and me promise to say nothin' about that Shore Lane 'cause you never sold it, and he said Mr. Colton had offered you a turrible fine job along of him and that you was goin' to take it. I wanted to find you and ask it 'twas true. 'Taint true, is it, Ros?" wistfully. "By time! I wish 'twas."

Before I could answer Mabel spoke.

"Yes, it is true, Mr. Rogers," she said. "It is quite true and you may tell anyone you like. It is true, isn't it, Roscoe?"

What answer could I make? What answer would you have made under the circumstances?

"Yes," I answered, with a sigh of resignation. "I guess it is true, Lute."

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