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Mercer?" he psked, smiling forlornly.
Her eyes 1U. up. "It's you, Alfred
Burton sat down beside her.
"I heard about your marriage five
months ago," he said. "I meant to
write to Will Mercer and congratu
late him but I wasn't man enough."
"I wish you had," she answered.
"We should have been so glad to
have welcomed you to our home."
"Will's a fine, lucky fellow," said
Burton. rtHe's on the train, isn't he?
You're not traveling alone?"
"Yes," she answered. "I'm making
a little- holiday jaunt a visit, I
mean." She felt her eyes flooding
with tears again. She looked at Bur
ton in defiant, helpless loyalty to
"Hilda, there's something wrong
between Will Mercer and you," said
Burton. "You're running away.
You're running away to think, just
as you used to do. You mustn't think,
but ct. I want you to turn right
round at Brattleboro and go back to
him. There isn't a finer man living
than Will Mercer." '
"I know there isn't," she answered
impetuously, and then she saw how
hideously wrong she had been. It
was not Will from whom she was
running away, but her own discon
tent; and she was carrying It in her
hearf, just as she would always car-i
"It's too late now," she answered
dismally, and looked out into the
It was impossible to return before
Will got Tiome. There was no train
from Brattleboro till morning. She
had made sure of that before she
started in case her resolution weak
ened. He wpuld discover the letter
that she, had left; if she went back
he would forgive her, but things
would never be the same.
She was crying hysterically. Bur
ton let her hand fall and. stared at
'the cushions of the seat opposite.
He had urged her to go back, hut
what about himself? He.Ntoo, must
be back hv .Monday morning or 'be
come a itive. Fate seemed to have
lain in wait for him. Two people had
recognized him in the same car, and
he had thought never to be recogj
nized again. When Hilda married.
Will Mercer it seemed that all the.,
goodness had gone out of his liferj
he had plunged into dissipation and
changed completely; now, after see
ing Hilda, every point of visidn was
as it had always been, and he looked,
upon his crime as something unbe-
He swung round in his seat sud-j
denly. "Hilda," he said. "I'm running'
away, too. I haye six thousand dol
lars in my pocket that doesn't belong
She looked at,, him in bewilder
ment. "There isnft any, train," she
gasped, and Burton felt that hewas
no criminal jn her eyes, but 'only a
man caught, in thessm 'fatal net as
herself. The trauTrrom Brattleboro
would hot reach .New"York until nine
on the Monday morning. "Win would
be home before -she got there, and
his bank open, " . .
A jar shook-them In their seats, a
whistle shrille'dahd the train ground
its way to a standstfll. Outside, peo
ple were shoutlngand the-darkness
began to- be litfup-by-a: flare of fire.
Jim Washington's" frightened face
appeared at the door, ati'd' instantly
people were pukhing toward the en
trances " -i
They heard the cries. "The down
train wrecked"! She's catching fire!
Saved ours'elyes by six inches!" Bur
ton was outside, onfe of the crowd
that' surged about a line of halted
cars, two of which lay on their sides
amid a debris of wreckage. In front
the engine puffed' and screamed, like
the head of a dismembered centipede
in aspect. The passengers in the twd
cars seemed to have escaped by d
miracle. Nobody was hurt and thd
line was strewn with fragments from
Hours seemed to pass. The pass
sengers on both trains waited, ttyeiji