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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XXVIII GERALDINE
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 On reaching the Landing Andrew learned that Frobisher had returned and he rowed across to visit him. It was evening when he disembarked at the little pier1. Geraldine came down across the lawn, and Andrew's heart beat fast as he watched her. She was wonderfully graceful2, he thought, her white summer dress and light hat became her, there was a tinge3 of color in her face, and she was obviously eager to hear his news. She gave him a quick glance before they met, and then smiled in cordial welcome, for the man's expression was suggestive. He had lost his strained and anxious look, there was now an assured tranquillity4 in his bearing; he had not come back disappointed, and, for his sake, she rejoiced at this. Then as she gave him her hand and noticed the eager light in his eyes she grew suddenly disturbed.  
"You have been successful; I'm very glad," she said.
"Yes," responded Andrew, holding her hand; "things have gone well with us, but except for the mineral recorder you are the first person I've told the good news to. That strikes me as particularly appropriate."
"I don't suppose I'd ever have found the lode5 if you hadn't encouraged me. I felt daunted6 once or twice. Then I ventured to think that you'd be interested."
[Pg 293]"I am interested," Geraldine assured him, gently withdrawing her hand. "You needn't doubt that. But won't you come up to the house?"
Andrew laughed with a trace of awkwardness as he realized that he had been standing7 at the top of the uncomfortably narrow steps by which one reached the pier.
"It might be better, if you and Mr. Frobisher are not engaged."
"He's writing letters, though I think he'll have finished soon. Wherever he is, he's generally busy; but I can answer for his being glad to see you."
"That's good to hear. I'm heavily in your father's debt; but I'd like to think he's not the only one in the family to feel the pleasure."
Geraldine smiled at him mockingly.
"How delightfully8 formal, Mr. Allinson! Besides, you seem to need a good deal of assuring."
"A fair shot," Andrew laughed. "I'm afraid, when I'm really in earnest, I'm apt to be stilted9; but perhaps it isn't an altogether unusual fault. The correct light touch seems hard to acquire."
"Not stilted; that's too harsh. Now and then you're rather too serious."
Looking at her steadily10, he saw amusement in her eyes, but he had not wit enough to read all it covered and he felt slightly chilled. The girl knew his love for her and had thought of him often and anxiously in his absence; but now that he had come back safe and successful she was seized by a strange timidity. She shrank from the drastic change in their relations which his attitude threatened; he must be kept at a distance until she had become more used to the situation.
"It's very possible. Wouldn't it be pleasanter here?"[Pg 294] he hinted, as they approached a seat which stood in the shadow of the firs. "We might disturb your father by going in."
"Yes," Geraldine assented11, somewhat dubiously12, though the house, which faced the west, was uncomfortably hot.
They sat down and she glanced at him unobtrusively. She was now very cool and free from embarrassment13, while the man seemed to be suffering from constraint14. Moreover, he looked disappointed, and she felt sorry for him.
"So you found the lode and recorded your claims?" she said. "That must have been a great relief; but what will you do next?"
Andrew grew impatient. He would have preferred to discuss something more personal than his mining affairs.
"Oh," he exclaimed, "you must have heard enough about the lode to make you tired of it! However, I expect I shall have to go back to England before long."
Geraldine wondered whether the curt15 announcement was meant to alarm her, and decided16 that it was not. The man was too modest to make sure of her affection for him. Nevertheless it caused her some concern.
"Will it be a visit, or do you think of staying there?" she asked.
"I can't tell," said Andrew moodily17. "If I can get things straightened up, I may come back to the new mine; but I shall not know until I arrive."
"Do you wish to come back?"
"Yes," he answered emphatically, "very much indeed."
"Then you will no doubt find an excuse for doing so. It shouldn't be difficult to a fertile mind."
[Pg 295]"Unfortunately, mine often seems to suffer from sterility19. It has been subjected to stimulating20 influences here, and I'll miss them on the other side."
"If needful, couldn't you take Carnally with you?" Geraldine spoke21 with a touch of raillery.
"Carnally's useful, as far as he goes, but I'm not sure that he'd be much help in England; and he's not the only person I've, so to speak, come to lean on."
Geraldine regarded him with faint amusement.
"Then perhaps it's better that all outside support should be withdrawn22 and you learned to stand on your own feet. Don't you think you could do so, if you made an effort?"
"It's possible; I've no doubt I'll have to try. But when it's been generously given, one gets into a habit of looking for help and applause."
"That's unfortunate. Criticism's much more bracing24. I'm afraid you haven't had enough of it."
"Haven't I?" said Andrew. "I got nothing else at home, and it's damping to have somebody always ready to point out how much better you might have managed things. If I do any good when I get back it will be because of the encouragement I've had here."
"That's a very poor reason. You ought to do what you intend because you feel it's right."
"No doubt," said Andrew with a stern smile. "Still, you see, it needs a good deal of nerve."
Geraldine mused25 for a few moments. He had played up to her, as she thought of it, but in his half-humorous manner there had been a touch of gravity, and she knew what her commendation had been worth to him. She was glad that he valued it, but she could not have him guess this, and she shrank from showing too much earnestness.
[Pg 296]"Well," she said, "the mail must be sent across to the Landing soon; I'd better tell my father."
She got up, and a few minutes afterward26 Frobisher appeared and took Andrew to his smoking-room. When they had talked for a while, Andrew took out a few specimens27.
"So far as we were able," he said, "we picked out the best of the lode, but I believe much of the ore is of excellent quality. I brought you these specimens to look at, and the assayer's report on those we sent him after the first trip."
Frobisher examined them with care.
"A good business proposition; this stuff should pay for smelting28. I suppose you realize that your knowledge of the locality is valuable?"
"That's what I am coming to. If the thing's in your line, any information I can give you is at your service."
"Ah!" said Frobisher. "Let us understand each other. Do you want to sell?"
"Not to you. We have staked three claims, which is all we can legally hold, and our records were only filed an hour and a half ago. By using my map of our route and a sketch29 of the vein30, you or anybody you may send could reach the spot and have some days for prospecting32 before anybody else could find it."
"Then you're offering me this out of friendship?"
"Not altogether. I don't forget that you saved us from starving; but apart from that, I'd rather have somebody I know as owner of an adjacent claim. You'll excuse my saying that I can't tolerate Mappin there. I understand it isn't difficult to get up disputes over boundaries and water-rights, and he'd find some means of attacking us."
[Pg 297]"You're wise, and I appreciate your generosity33. There's every reason to believe you have put me on to a good thing. But I'm getting too old to make the journey, and there's no time to be lost. The trouble is to fix on the right men to send, because they'll have to be reliable. I know two or three boys in Colorado who would see the thing through, but it would take a week to bring them here and only a British subject can file a record."
He broke off and sat silent a few moments. "I have it!" he exclaimed. "There's a fellow at the Landing who, I think, would deal honestly; but he must get off with some packers to-morrow. If you'll excuse me, I'll go across."
Andrew went to a writing-table and hastily filled up a sheet of paper; then took a map from his pocket and wrote some directions on the back of it.
"Here's an order on Watson at the mine for any provisions and tools he can supply. It will save your men some transport and that means a quicker journey. Now listen carefully for a minute."
"Thanks," said Frobisher, when he had finished, and left him on the word.
Andrew laughed as he sat down to finish his cigar. The American's promptness was characteristic, and he was glad to feel that he had been of some service to him.
When he went out he found Geraldine on the lawn.
"What have you told my father?" she asked. "He ran past me without speaking and nearly fell into the water as he jumped on board the launch. I can't remember having seen him go so fast."
"Perhaps it's not surprising. I told Mr. Frobisher about the lode and where the best locations were."
[Pg 298]"The information ought to be valuable. The ore is rich, isn't it?"
"I think so, but of course it isn't mine to give away. All I did was to give your father some information which should help him to find it before anybody else. He means to send up a prospecting party at once."
Geraldine pondered this. The man was too modest to make much of the affair, but her father's eager haste had its significance. His <............
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