Trent's Trust and Other Stories HTML version

from the fancy that he and Miss Avondale were orphaned of a common benefactor; but it
was plain that her interests were apart from his. And there was an indefinable something
he did not understand, and did not want to understand, in the story she had told him. How
much of it she had withheld, not so much from delicacy or contempt for his
understanding as a desire to mislead him, he did not know. His faith in her had gone with
his romance. It was not strange that the young English girl's unsophisticated frankness
and simple confidences lingered longest in his memory, and that when, a few days later,
Mr. Dingwall informed him that Miss Avondale had sailed for England with the Dornton
family, he was more conscious of a loss in the stranger girl's departure.
"I suppose Miss Avondale takes charge of—of the boy, sir?" he said quietly.
Mr. Dingwall gave him a quick glance. "Possibly. Sir William has behaved with great—
er—consideration," he replied briefly.
Randolph's nature was too hopeful and recuperative to allow him to linger idly in the
past. He threw himself into his work at the bank with his old earnestness and a certain
simple conscientiousness which, while it often provoked the raillery of his fellow clerks,
did not escape the eyes of his employers. He was advanced step by step, and by the end
of the year was put in charge of the correspondence with banks and agencies. He had
saved some money, and had made one or two profitable investments. He was enabled to
take better apartments in the same building he had occupied. He had few of the
temptations of youth. His fear of poverty and his natural taste kept him from the
speculative and material excesses of the period. A distrust of his romantic weakness kept
him from society and meaner entanglements which might have beset his good looks and
good nature. He worked in his rooms at night and forbore his old evening rambles.
As the year wore on to the anniversary of his arrival, he thought much of the dead man
who had inspired his fortunes, and with it a sense of his old doubts and suspicions
revived. His reason had obliged him to accept the loss of the fateful portmanteau as an
ordinary theft; his instinct remained unconvinced. There was no superstition connected
with his loss. His own prosperity had not been impaired by it. On the contrary, he
reflected bitterly that the dead man had apparently died only to benefit others. At such
times he recalled, with a pleasure that he knew might become perilous, the tall English
girl who had defended Dornton's memory and echoed his own sympathy. But that was all
over now.
One stormy night, not unlike that eventful one of his past experience, Randolph sought
his rooms in the teeth of a southwest gale. As he buffeted his way along the rain-washed
pavement of Montgomery Street, it was not strange that his thoughts reverted to that
night and the memory of his dead protector. But reaching his apartment, he sternly
banished them with the vanished romance they revived, and lighting his lamp, laid out his
papers in the prospect of an evening of uninterrupted work. He was surprised, however,
after a little interval, by the sound of uncertain and shuffling steps on the half-lighted