Dark Hollow HTML version

8. Excerpts
One of the lodgers at the Claymore Inn had great cause for complaint the next
morning. A restless tramping over his head had kept him awake all night. That it
was intermittent had made it all the more intolerable. Just when he thought it had
stopped, it would start up again,--to and fro, to and fro, as regular as clockwork
and much more disturbing.
But the complaint never reached Mrs. Averill. The landlady had been restless
herself. Indeed, the night had been one of thought and feeling to more than one
person in whom we are interested. The feeling we can understand; the thought--
that is, Mrs. Averill's thought--we should do well to follow.
The one great question which had agitated her was this: Should she trust the
judge? Ever since the discovery which had changed Reuther's prospects, she
had instinctively looked to this one source for aid and sympathy. Her reasons she
has already given. His bearing during the trial, the compunction he showed in
uttering her husband's sentence were sufficient proof to her that for all his natural
revulsion against the crime which had robbed him of his dearest friend, he was
the victim of an undercurrent of sympathy for the accused which could mean but
one thing--a doubt of the prisoner's actual guilt.
But her faith had been sorely shaken in the interview just related. He was not the
friend she had hoped to find. He had insisted upon her husband's guilt, when she
had expected consideration and a thoughtful recapitulation of the evidence; and
he had remained unmoved, or but very little moved, by the disappointment of his
son--his only remaining link to life.
Why? Was the alienation between these two so complete as to block out natural
sympathy? Had the separation of years rendered them callous to every mutual
impression? She dwelt in tenderness upon the bond uniting herself and Reuther
and could not believe in such unresponsiveness. No parent could carry
resentment or even righteous anger so far as that. Judge Ostrander might seem
cold,-- both manner and temper would naturally be much affected by his unique
and solitary mode of life,--but at heart he must love Oliver. It was not in nature for
it to be otherwise. And yet--
It was at this point in her musing that there came one of the breaks in her
restless pacing. She was always of an impulsive temperament, and always giving
way to it. Sitting down before paper and ink she wrote the following lines:
My Darling if Unhappy Child:
I know that this sudden journey on my part must strike you as cruel, when, if
ever, you need your mother's presence and care. But the love I feel for you, my
Reuther, is deep enough to cause you momentary pain for the sake of the great
good I hope to bring you out of this shadowy quest. I believe, what I said to you
on leaving, that a great injustice was done your father. Feeling so, shall I remain
quiescent and see youth and love slip from you, without any effort on my part to
set this matter straight? I cannot. I have done you the wrong of silence when
knowledge would have saved you shock and bitter disillusion, but I will not add to
my fault the inertia of a cowardly soul. Have patience with me, then; and continue