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Mercer?" he asked, smiling forlornly.
Her eyes lit 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."
"I1 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. '"He'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 act. 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
heart, just as she would' always car
"It's too late now," she answered
dismally, and looked out into the
It was impossible to return before
Will got home. There was no train
from Brattleboro till morning. She
had made sure of that before she
started in case her resolution weak
ened. He would 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, but
?rhat about himself? He, tpor must
be back by Monday morning or be
come a fugitive. 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 recog
nized again. When Hilda married
Will Mercer it seemed that all th3
goodness had gone out of hfs life;
he had plunged into dissipation am)
changed completely; now, after see
ing Hilda, every point of vision was;
as it had always been, and he looked
upon his crime as something unbe
He swung round in his seat sud
denly. "Hilda," he said. "I'm running
away, too. I have six thousand dol
lars in my pocket that doesn't belong
She looked at him in bewilder
ment. "There isn't any train," she
gasped, and Burton felt that he was
no criminal in her, eyes, but only a
man caught in the same fatal net as
herself. The train from Brattleboro
would not reach New York until nine
on the Monday morning. Will would
be home before she got there, and
his bank open. ...
A jar shook them in their seats, a
whistle shrilled, and the train ground
its wy to a standstill. Outside, peo
ple were shouting and the darkness
began to be lit'up':by. a" flare of fire.
Jim Washington's frightened face
appeared at the door, and instantly
people were pushing toward the en
trance. They heard the cries. "The down
train wrecked! She's catching fire!
Saved ourselves by six inches!" Bur
ton was outside one 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 jinfl streamed, like
the head of a dismembered centipede
in aspect. The passengers in the two
cars seemed to have escaped by a
miracle'. Nobody was hurt and the
line was strewn with fragments from
Hours seemed to pass. The pas
sengers, tmbpth trains waited, theil: