The Search (Chapter 3, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 3

It had taken only a short time after all. The crowd drowned its cheer in one deep gasp of silence and broke up tearfully into little groups beginning to melt away at the sound of Michael ringing up the gates, and telling the cars and wagons to hurry that it was almost time for the up-train.

Ruth Macdonald started her car and tried to bring her senses back to their normal calm wondering what had happened to her and why there was such an inexpressible mingling of loss and pleasure in her heart.

The way at first was intricate with congestion of traffic and Ruth was obliged to go slowly. As the road cleared before her she was about to glide forward and make up for lost time. Suddenly a bewildered little woman with white hair darted in front of the car, hesitated, drew back, came on again. Ruth stopped the car shortly, much shaken with the swift vision of catastrophe, and the sudden recognition of the woman. It was the same one who had been with John Cameron.

"Oh, I'm so sorry I startled you!" she called pleasantly, leaning out of the car. "Won't you get in, please, and let me take you home?"

The woman looked up and there were great tears in her eyes. It was plain why she had not seen where she was going.

"Thank you, no, I couldn't!" she said with a choke in her voice and another blur of tears, "I--you see--I want to get away--I've been seeing off my boy!"

"I know!" said Ruth with quick sympathy, "I saw. And you want to get home quickly and cry. I feel that way myself. But you see I didn't have anybody there and I'd like to do a little something just to be in it. Won't you please get in? You'll get home sooner if I take you; and see! We're blocking the way!"

The woman cast a frightened glance about and assented: "Of course. I didn't realize!" she said climbing awkwardly in and sitting bolt upright as uncomfortable as could be in the luxurious car beside the girl. It was all too plain she did not wish to be there.

Ruth manoeuvred her car quickly out of the crowd and into a side street, gliding from there to the avenue. She did not speak until they had left the melting crowd well behind them. Then she turned timidly to the woman: "You--are--his--mother?"

She spoke the words hesitatingly as if she feared to touch a wound. The woman's eyes suddenly filled again and a curious little quiver came on the strong chin.

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