IT was a green land in which she woke. The leaves were just putting forth their feathery fronds of foliage, and the shorn lawns, the waving floods of growing wheat, and the smooth slopes of pastures presented pleasant pictures to the mountain-born girl. These thickly peopled farm-lands, the almost contiguous villages, the constant passing of trains roused in her a surprise and wonder which left her silent. Such weight of human life, such swarming populations, appalled her. How did they all live?
At breakfast Haney was in unusual flow of spirits. "'Twas here I rode the trucks of a freight-car," he said once and again. "In this town I slept all night on a bench in the depot. ... I know every tie from here to Syracuse. I wonder is the station agent living yet. Twould warm me heart to toss him out ten dollars for that night's lodging. Them was the great days! In Syracuse I worked for a livery-stableman as hostler, and I would have gone hungry but for the scullion Maggie. Cross-eyed was Maggie, but her heart beat warm for the lad in the loft, and manny's the plates of beef and bowls of hot soup she handed to me—poor girl! I'd like to know where she is; had I the power of locomotion I'd look her up, too."
Again Bertha was brought face to face with the great sacrifice she was obscurely contemplating. The magic potency of money was brought before her eyes as she contrasted the ragged, homeless boy with the man who sat beside her. The fact that he had not earned the money only made its magic the more clearly inherent in the gold itself. It panoplied the thief's carriage. It made dwarfs admirable, and gave dignity and honor to the lowly. It made it possible for Marshall Haney to retrace in royal splendor the perilous and painful journey he had made into the West some thirty years ago—rewarding with regal generosity those who threw him a broken steak or a half-eaten roll—and she could imaginatively enter into the exquisite pleasure this largess gave the man.
"And there was Father McBreen," he resumed, with a chuckle—" 'sure the mark of Satan is on the b'y,' he used to say every time my mother told him of one of my divilments. And he was right. All the same, I'd like to drop in on him and surprise him with a check" —at the moment he forgot that he was old and a cripple—"just to let him know the divil hadn't claimed me yet. I'd like to show him me wife." He put his hand on her arm and smiled. "Sure the old man would revise his prediction could he see you; he might say the divil had got you — but he couldn't pity me.
She turned him aside from this by saying: "I reckon New York is a great deal bigger than Chicago. Mr. Moss says it makes any other town seem like a county seat. I'm dead leery of it. I want to see it, but it just naturally locoes me to think of it."
"Tis the only place to spend money—so the boys tell me. I've never been there but once, and then only for three days. I went on to get a man when I was sheriff in San Juan. I saw it then mostly as a wonderful fine swamp to lose a thief in."
"Did you get your man?" she asked, with formal interest.
"I did so—and nearly died for want of sleep on the way home; he was a desprit character, was black Hosay; but I linked him to me arm and tuck chances."
Once she had listened to these stories with eager interest; now they were but empty boasting—so deeply inwrought was her soul with matters that more nearly concerned her woman's need and woman's nature. The potency of gold!—could any magic be greater? They lived like folk in a flying palace (with books and papers, easy-chairs and card-tables), eating carefully cooked meals, served by attendants as considerate and as constant as those at their own fireside. The broad windows gave streaming panorama of town and country, hill and river, and the young wife accepted it all with the haughty air of one who is wearied with splendor, but inwardly the knowledge that it all came to Haney (as to her) unearned troubled her. Luck was his God, but she, while accepting from him these marvellous, shining gifts, had another God—one derived from her Saxon ancestors, one to whom luxury was akin to harlotry.
They left the train at Albany and went to the best hotel in the city to spend the night. "To-morrow I'll see if I can find annybody who knows where the old dad is," said Haney. " 'Tis too late, and I'm too weary to do it to-night."
Bertha was tired, too—mentally wearied, and glad of a chance to be alone. She went at once to her room, leaving the Captain and Lucius busy with the Troy directory.
Haney set about his search next day with the eager zeal of a lad. He took an almost childish pleasure in displaying his good-fortune Through Lucius he hired an auto-car as good as the one he had left in Chicago, and together he and Bertha rode into his native town, up into the bleak, brick-paved ward through which he had roamed when a cub. It had changed, of course, as all things American must, but it was so much the same, after all, that he could point out the alleys where he used to toss pennies and play cards and fight. Every corner was historic to him. "Phil O'Brien used to keep saloon here — and I've earned manny a dime sweepin' out for his barkeeper. I was never a drunken lad," he gravely said; "I don't know why—I had all the chance there was. I've been moderate of drink all me life. No, I won't say that—I'll say I tuck it as it came, with no fear and no favor. When playin', I always let it alone—it spiled me nerve—I let the other felly do the drinkin'."
Some of the signs were unchanged, and he sent Lucius in to ask the proprietor of the "Hoosac Market" to step out; and when he appeared, a plump man with close-clipped gray hair and smoothly shaven face, he shouted, "'Tis old Otto—just the man I nade. Howdy, Otto Siegel ?"
Siegel shaded his eyes and looked up at Haney. "You haff the edventege off me alretty."
"I'm Mart Haney—you remember Mart Haney."