A Rogue's Life
it never lasts long enough to justify our secret anticipations--our happiness
dwindles to mere every-day contentment before we have half done with it.
I raised my head, and gathered the bills and letters together, and stood up a man
again, wondering at the variableness of my own temper, at the curious elasticity
of that toughest of all the vital substances within us, which we call Hope. "Sitting
and sighing at the foot of this tree," I thought, "is not the way to find Alicia, or to
secure my own safety. Let me circulate my blood and rouse my ingenuity, by
taking to the road again."
Before I forced my way back to the open side of the hedge, I thought it desirable
to tear up the bills and letters, for fear of being traced by them if they were found
in the plantation. The desk I left where it was, there being no name on it. The
note-paper and pens I pocketed--forlorn as my situation was, it did not authorize
me to waste stationery. The blotting-paper was the last thing left to dispose of:
two neatly-folded sheets, quite clean, except in one place, where the impression
of a few lines of writing appeared. I was about to put the blotting-paper into my
pocket after the pens, when something in the look of the writing impressed on it,
Four blurred lines appeared of not more than two or three words each, running
out one beyond another regularly from left to right. Had the doctor been
composing poetry and blotting it in a violent hurry? At a first glance, that was
more than I could tell. The order of the written letters, whatever they might be,
was reversed on the face of the impression taken of them by the blotting-paper. I
turned to the other side of the leaf. The order of the letters was now right, but the
letters themselves were sometimes too faintly impressed, sometimes too much
blurred together to be legible. I held the leaf up to the light--and there was a
complete change: the blurred letters grew clearer, the invisible connecting lines
appeared--I could read the words from first to last.
The writing must have been hurried, and it had to all appearance been hurriedly
dried toward the corner of a perfectly clean leaf of the blotting-paper. After twice
reading, I felt sure that I had made out correctly the following address:
Miss Giles, 2 Zion Place, Crickgelly, N. Wales.
It was hard under the circumstances, to form an opinion as to the handwriting;
but I thought I could recognize the character of some of the doctor's letters, even
in the blotted impression of them. Supposing I was right, who was Miss Giles?
Some Welsh friend of the doctor's, unknown to me? Probably enough. But why
not Alicia herself under an assumed name? Having sent her from home to keep
her out of my way, it seemed next to a certainty that her father would take all
possible measures to prevent my tracing her, and would, therefore, as a common
act of precaution, forbid her to travel under her own name. Crickgelly, North