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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesTogether - Part One - Chapter 13
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Together - Part One - Chapter 13 Post by :hlpunltd Category :Long Stories Author :Robert Herrick Date :May 2012 Read :2249

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Together - Part One - Chapter 13

PART ONE CHAPTER XIII

Isabelle saw the fat headlines in the Pittsburg paper that the porter brought her,--"Congressman Darnell and his wife killed!" The bodies had been found at the bottom of an abandoned quarry. It was supposed that during a thunder-storm the night before, as he was driving from Torso to his farm in company with his wife, the horses had become uncontrollable and had dashed into the pit before Darnell could pull them up. He had just taken his seat in Congress. Isabelle remembered that he called the day before she left Torso, and when she had congratulated him on his election, had said jokingly: "Now I shall get after your husband's bosses, Mrs. Lane. We shan't be on speaking terms when next we meet." He seemed gay and vital. So it had ended thus for the tempestuous Kentuckian....

John was waiting for her at the station in Torso, where she was to break the journey. His face was eager and solicitous. He made many anxious inquiries about her health and the journey. But she put it all to one side.

"Tell me about the Darnells. Isn't it dreadful!"

"Yes," he said slowly, "it is very bad." Lane's voice was grave, as if he knew more than the published report.

"How could it have happened,--he was such a good driver? He must have been drunk."

"Tom Darnell could have driven all right, even if he had been drunk. I am afraid it's worse than that."

"Tell me!"

"There are all sorts of rumors. He came up from Washington unexpectedly, and his wife met him at the station with their team. They went to the hotel first, and then suddenly started for the farm in the midst of the storm. It was a terrible storm.... One story is that he had trouble with a bank; it is even said he had forged paper. I don't know! ... Another story was about the Adams woman,--you know she followed him to Washington.... Too bad! He was a brilliant fellow, but he tied himself all up, tied himself all up," he observed sententiously, thus explaining the catastrophe of an unbalanced character.

"You mean it was--suicide?" Isabelle questioned.

"Looks that way!"

"How awful! and his wife killed, too!"

"He was always desperate--uncontrolled sort of fellow. You remember how he went off the handle the night of our dinner."

"So he ended it--that way," she murmured.

And she saw the man driving along the road in the black storm, his young wife by his side, with desperate purpose. She remembered his words in the orchard, his wistful desire for another kind of life. "The Adams woman, too," as John expressed it, and "he couldn't hold his horses." This nature had flown in pieces, liked a cracked wheel, in the swift revolution of life. To her husband it was only one of the messes recorded in the newspapers. But her mind was full of wonder and fear. As little as she had known the man, she had felt an interest in him altogether disproportionate to what he said or did. He was a man of possibilities, of streaks, of moods, one that could have been powerful, lived a rich life. And at thirty-three he had come to the end, where his passions and his ideals in perpetual warfare had held him bound. He had cut the knot! And she had chosen to go with him, the poor, timid wife! ... Surely there were strange elements in people, Isabelle felt, not commonly seen in her little well-ordered existence, traits of character covered up before the world, fissures running back through the years into old impulses. Life might be terrible--when it got beyond your hand. She could not dismiss poor Tom Darnell as summarily as John did,--"a bad lot, I'm afraid!"

"You mustn't think anything more about it," her husband said anxiously, as she sat staring before her, trying to comprehend the tragedy. "I have arranged to take you on to-morrow. The Colonel writes that your brother Ezra is seedy,--touch of malaria, he thinks. The Colonel is looking forward a lot to your coming."

He talked on about the little domestic things, but she held that picture in the background of her mind and something within her said over and over, 'Why should it be like that for any one!'

And all the next day, on their way to St. Louis, she could not dismiss the thought from her mind: 'Why, I saw him only a few weeks ago. How well he read that poetry, as if he enjoyed it! And what he said that night at dinner he really meant,--oh, he believed it! And he was sorry for his wife,--yes, I am sure he was sorry for her. But he loved the other woman,--she understood him. And so he ended it. It's quite dreadful!'

* * * * *

The Colonel met them at the station with his new motor. His face was a bit grave as he said in answer to their inquiry:--

"No, it is not malaria, I am afraid. The doctors think it is typhoid. There has been a great deal of it in the city this summer, and the boy wouldn't take a vacation, was afraid I would stay here if he did. So I went up to Pelee, instead."

It was typhoid, and young Price died within the week. In the hush that followed the death of her brother Isabelle lay waiting for the coming of her child.... Her older brother Ezra! He was like a sturdy young tree in the forest, scarce noticed in the familiar landscape until his loss. Quiet, hard-working "Junior," as the family called him,--what would the Colonel do without him? The old man--now he was obviously old even to Isabelle--would come to her room and sit for long hours silent, as if he, too, was waiting for the coming of the new life into his house.

These two deaths so unlike, the tragic end of Darnell and her brother's sudden removal, sank deep into her, sounding to her in the midst of her own childish preoccupation with her own life, the intricacy, the mystery of all existence. Life was larger than a private garden hedged with personal ambitions. She was the instrument of forces outside her being. And in her weakness she shrank into herself.

They told her that she had given birth to a daughter--another being like herself!

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