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Trent's Trust and Other Stories

As Randolph read, he seemed to hear the captain's voice throughout the letter, and even
his low, characteristic laugh in the postscript. Then he suddenly remembered the luggage
which the porter had said the captain had ordered to be taken below; but on asking that
functionary he was told a conveyance for the Victoria Docks had called with an order,
and taken it away at daybreak. It was evident that the captain had intended the letter
should be his only farewell. Depressed and a little hurt at his patron's abruptness,
Randolph returned to his room. Opening the letter of credit, he found it was for a
thousand pounds—a munificent beneficence, as it seemed to Randolph, for his dubious
services, and a proof of his patron's frequent declarations that he had money enough
without touching the Dornton estates.
For a long time he sat with these sole evidences of the reality of his experience in his
hands, a prey to a thousand surmises and conflicting thoughts. Was he the self-deceived
disciple of a visionary, a generous, unselfish, but weak man, whose eccentricity passed
even the bounds of reason? Who would believe the captain's story or the captain's
motives? Who comprehend his strange quest and its stranger and almost ridiculous
termination? Even if the seal of secrecy were removed in after years, what had he,
Randolph, to show in corroboration of his patron's claim?
Then it occurred to him that there was no reason why he should not go down to the
rectory and see Miss Eversleigh again under pretense of inquiring after the luckless
baronet, whose title and fortune had, nevertheless, been so strangely preserved. He began
at once his preparations for the journey, and was nearly ready when a servant entered
with a telegram. Randolph's heart leaped. The captain had sent him news—perhaps had
changed his mind! He tore off the yellow cover, and read,—
Sir William died at twelve o'clock without recovering consciousness.
For a moment Randolph gazed at the dispatch with a half-hysterical laugh, and then
became as suddenly sane and cool. One thought alone was uppermost in his mind: the
captain could not have heard this news yet, and if he was still within reach, or accessible
by any means whatever, however determined his purpose, he must know it at once. The
only clue to his whereabouts was the Victoria Docks. But that was something. In another
moment Randolph was in the lower hall, had learned the quickest way of reaching the
docks, and plunged into the street.
The fog here swooped down, and to the embarrassment of his mind was added the
obscurity of light and distance, which halted him after a few hurried steps, in utter
perplexity. Indistinct figures were here and there approaching him out of nothingness and
melting away again into the greenish gray chaos. He was in a busy thoroughfare; he could
hear the slow trample of hoofs, the dull crawling of vehicles, and the warning outcries of
a traffic he could not see. Trusting rather to his own speed than that of a halting