Page:Poor White.djvu/116

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That was in the time when big houses began to appear at the edge of the berry lands and on the hills south of Bidwell. On his father's death Steve became guardian for his sister. The jeweler had left a small estate and it was entirely in the son's hands. Elsie lived with one servant in a small house in town and was put in the position of being entirely dependent on her brother's bounty. In a sense it might be said that she lived by her hatred of him. When on rare occasions he came to her house she would not see him. A servant came to the door and reported her asleep. Almost every month she wrote a letter demanding that her share of her father's money be handed over to her, but it did no good. Steve occasionally spoke to an acquaintance of his difficulty with her. " I am more sorry for the woman than I can say," he declared. " It's the dream of my life to make the poor afflicted soul happy. You see yourself that I provide her with every comfort of life. Ours is an old family. I have it from an expert in such matters that we are descendants of one Hunter, a courtier in the court of Edward the Second of England. Our blood has perhaps become a little thin. All the vitality of the family was centered in me. My sister does not understand me and that has been the cause of much unhappiness and heart burn- ing, but I shall always do my duty by her." In the late afternoon of the spring day that was also the most eventful day of his life, Steve went quickly along the Wheeling Station platform to the door of the telegraph office. It was a public place, but before going in he stopped, again straightened his tie and brushed his clothes, and then knocked at the door. As there was no response he opened the door