of passing along the road well,
lives were cheap in Hunstaple,
and the black river knew its own
secrets. The woman shuddered
and turned and closed the door.
Presently a knock outside a
faint tap, sounding almost like
the peck of a bird upon the tele
graph posts that studded the
landscape, startled her from the
reverie into which she had fallen.
She sprang to her feet and stood
alert, listening. It sounded again,
and cautiously the woman un
barred the door. Outside stood
One glance at his face and she
was reeling backward against the
wall of the little narrow hall. The
man grinned and stepped inside
noiselessly. As he did so he re
moved his hat and glanced round
him. The lamp within the parlor
drew" him as it had drawn the
white moths that fluttered upon
the cheap table beneath it. He
entered. Now it could be seen
that he was in the last stage of
decrepitude: his clothes hung in
loose rags upon his bony frame,
and his eyes were the bleared
eyes of the dipsomaniac.
"Well, Jane," he said, a little
sheepishly, '"don't be scared of
me, my girl, like you used to be.
I ain't drunk now, though I do
look like a hobo. I heard you
were living here and-that your
man worked away all night ; so I
thought 'there wouldn't be no
harm in paying you a friendly
visit, Jane, my dear."
The woman had followed him
p and now stood facing him on
the opposite side of the table,
which ' had placed instinctive
ly between them.
"What do you want?" she
gasped. "Why have you come?
Haven't you wronged me
enough?" she continued, clench
ing and unclenching her fists in
impotent anger. "Come to the'
point what do you want, Jim?"'
The man grinned again and sat
down. "Well, I must say you
ain't over cordial, Jane," he mum
bled. "I heard you were here
quite by chance from a mining
fellow in the state penitentiary.
who was my cell mate. 'Ho!'
thinks I, 'she used to be my wife.
And is, too, for the matter of that,
since the knot was never untied.'
Say Jane." he interposed, "what
would your man say if he found
out that you wasn't his at-all?"
"He'd kill us both." she gasped,
thinking of her husband's faith
in her. That he should ever learn
of this was impossible. It must
be made- impossible for the sake of
"Well. Jane, I don't want to
hurt your feelin's," the tramp
grumbled, filling his pipe with a
foul-smelling weed which, when
lit, diffused a rank aroma through
the tiny house. "I ain't saying
as I treated you altogether on the
level during the six months you
and me lived together. Say, why
didn't you get a divorce?" he
went on curiously.
"I couldn't; you know that. I
found help in the churGh when
you ill-treated me and left me."
"Ho! Then you're sinning
against the church as well as
against me," he said tauntingly.
xml | txt