Trent's Trust and Other Stories HTML version
odd, weird likeness to the missing man Randolph was seeking, which strangely troubled
him. As the stranger's eyes followed him and lingered with a singular curiosity on
Randolph's dress, he remembered with a sudden alarm that he was wearing the suit of the
missing man. A quick impulse to conceal himself came upon him, but he as quickly
conquered it, and returned the man's cold stare with an anger he could not account for,
but which made the stranger avert his eyes. Then the man got into the boat beside the
boatman, and the two again towed away the corpse. The head rose and fell with the swell,
as if nodding a farewell. But it was still defiant, under its shapeless mask, that even wore
a smile, as if triumphant in its hideous secret.
The opinion of the cynical bystander on the wharf proved to be a correct one. The
coroner's jury brought in the usual verdict of "Found drowned," which was followed by
the usual newspaper comment upon the insecurity of the wharves and the inadequate
protection of the police.
Randolph Trent read it with conflicting emotions. The possibility he had conceived of the
corpse being that of his benefactor was dismissed when he had seen its face, although he
was sometimes tortured with doubt, and a wonder if he might not have learned more by
attending the inquest. And there was still the suggestion that the mysterious
disappearance might have been accomplished by violence like this. He was satisfied that
if he had attempted publicly to identify the corpse as his missing friend he would have
laid himself open to suspicion with a story he could hardly corroborate.
He had once thought of confiding his doubts to Mr. Revelstoke, the bank president, but
he had a dread of that gentleman's curt conclusions and remembered his injunction to
"hang on to his trust." Since his installation, Mr. Revelstoke had merely acknowledged
his presence by a good-humored nod now and then, although Randolph had an instinctive
feeling that he was perfectly informed as to his progress. It was wiser for Randolph to
confine himself strictly to his duty and keep his own counsel.
Yet he was young, and it was not strange that in his idle moments his thoughts sometimes
reverted to the pretty girl he had seen on the night of his arrival, nor that he should wish
to parade his better fortune before her curious eyes. Neither was it strange that in this
city, whose day-long sunshine brought every one into the public streets, he should
presently have that opportunity. It chanced that one afternoon, being in the residential
quarter, he noticed a well-dressed young girl walking before him in company with a
delicate looking boy of seven or eight years. Something in the carriage of her graceful
figure, something in a certain consciousness and ostentation of coquetry toward her
youthful escort, attracted his attention. Yet it struck him that she was neither related to
the child nor accustomed to children's ways, and that she somewhat unduly emphasized
this to the passers-by, particularly those of his own sex, who seemed to be greatly
attracted by her evident beauty. Presently she ascended the steps of a handsome dwelling,
evidently their home, and as she turned he saw her face. It was the girl he remembered.
As her eye caught his, he blushed with the consciousness of their former meeting; yet, in