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Newspaper Page Text
Steve was denying himself. And
gradually she settled down to accus
tom herself to his absence. Steve
wrote that he was going into the in
terior and she might not hear from
him for a while, but he was not go
ing into any dangerand she-was not
i A letter came two months'later,
inclosing five hundred and announc
A ing that Steve .had struck a rich
claim. Ntta wrote out of the joy J
of her heart and he answered mucin
iter. That was the last letter Steve
received fipm Netta.
As the months slipped by 'and none
of Steve's letters were answered he
became desperate. At last he set
tled down grimly to. making his pile.
He tfhsted Netta, and he believed
that if she were dead, somebody
would have written. He did not
make inquiries about her, but peo
ple do nqt trouble to interest them
selves on behalf of those who are
distant, and" nobody answered him.
When the two years were ended
Steve saw a fortune within his
. grasp if he remained a third year.
He remained a third, and at the end
of that time it was a case ofa cool
million if he remained a fourth, and
then business went to the dogs, and
it meant a fifth year.
At the end of the fifth Steve sold
out for three millions and a half and
, He had had little hopes of finding
Netta in ttie flat they had occupied,
and so he was spared that disap
pointment. But the old lady who
came to the door ran after Steve as
'he turned away.
"Are you Mr. Stephen Jackson?"
she asked. v
"Steve Jackson yes,- ma'am,"
"I can-tell you whese "your wife
is," slie said. "She comes hese every
-three months to tell me that if you
ever come back here she has- the
house at 124 Chestnut st" ,
Steve -almost whooped with glad-
ness, but he only thanked her and
hurried away. And in an hour's
time he was in the suburban dis
trict and had found 124.
It was a trim little cottage, cov
ered with a" flowering vine, and
Steve suddenly found himself too
shy to enter. And as he hung out
side the door, in an agony of appre
hension and joy, two children en
tered the gate of the little garden.
They were Ellen and Tom. Steve
knew his own anywhere. And they
were dressed as he had never hoped
to dress his children.
"Where are you going?" asked the
man at the gate.
"We're coming from school," an
swered the little boy.
"You are Tom Jackson, aren't
you?" " '
"Yes. This is Ellen."
"And does your mother live here?"
'.'And your father?" ""
"Father's away, but he's cbmmg
home soon," said the little gin.
"Mummy prays for him to come ev
ery nigh. And we pray, too."
Steve looked a.t the house and at
the children. Thesewere his every
thing was as he had dared to dream
that it would be; and yet now he was
afraid. He was afraid that he, a
common man, would bring his com
monness into their lives. He had
been away so long why, should he
In that moment, for the first -time,
in spite of what his child had said, he
had a doubt of Netta. Herjvondered
whether she had stopped writing to
him because of this, because he
would drag her and her children
And he turned miserably away.
He would go somewhere to think it
He went down the sunny street,
.slinking like a whjpped dog. Why
had he not spent tnose five years In
educating himself, to makjs "himself
worthy of his wife and children?
It was Netta. She was standing