MISERY LOVES COMPANY
by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Though Letty Green conspicuously boarded the same train that he took, she was very careful not to occupy the same car, lest he should see her and have his suspicions aroused. Indeed, her concern with him ended here, for she had a fat roll of money with which to enjoy herself in the great city, and she now gave herself up to joyful anticipations of triumphs awaiting her in the near future.
As for Dallas, he threw himself moodily into a seat, and became a prey to such unpleasant reflections that it would have taken little less than an earthquake to attract his attention. The nearest thing to it, however—a collision with another train—suddenly brought him back, with a terrible shock, to things sublunary.
All at once there was a terrible rumble, then a shock that telescoped the train and made it a jumble of broken, flying timbers and crushed and bleeding humanity, on which the gray light of[Pg 175] early dawn shone with dim gleams through a drizzle of summer rain.
Dallas felt himself hurled violently somewhere—to death, he hoped, in that brief moment before he landed with a dull thud on the soft grass in a field close by the railroad.
He lay still a few moments, feeling as if every bone in his body were broken, and just waiting languidly for death to still his fluttering breath.
The thought came to him of Daisie. Would she be sorry when she heard he was dead? That he had met his death obeying her wish, that he should go away forever?
Then he became conscious of groans, and cries, and anxious voices. People were going about among the dead and wounded, helping them out from the awful wreck.
Two of the trainmen bent over him, saying:
“Look at this fellow, hurled through the roof of the car out into the hay field. Is he dead, or just stunned?”
Dallas opened wide his large black eyes, and gave them a start.
“Not dead, you see, thanks to this shock of hay I fell on. I thought at first my bones were all[Pg 176] broken, but give me your hands, and let’s see if I can stand up. So! Why, I’m as sound as a dollar!” in amazement.
It was true. Death had passed him by, to take others not as willing to go as this unhappy lover.
Several persons had been killed outright, and as many more wounded, so Dallas joined the relief corps that was so busy, and in his anxiety over others forgot for a while his own grief.
Hearing painful groans from beneath a pile of timbers, he set to work removing them, when he was arrested by the groaning voice muttering:
“Don’t try to help me—let me die in this trap! It’s as good as I deserve!”
“We might all be dead, friend, if we got our just deserts,” replied Dallas, and did not desist until he dragged out the imprisoned man from the obstructions that had pinned him down.
“Your arm’s broken, my poor fellow,” he said sympathetically to the dark, handsome young man, who opened his eyes, stared at him a moment in pallid wonder, then fainted dead away like a girl.
This did not surprise Dallas, who feared that the man might be internally injured.
But he borrowed a flask of whisky from the porter, and set to work to revive him with fine success.
The dark eyes opened again, and the man groaned woefully:
“So I’m dead, and yours is the first shade to greet me in the infernal regions, Dallas Bain?”
Laughing shortly, Dallas answered:
“I don’t know where we’ve met before, friend, but that’s my name, and I hope you’ll pardon my short memory in forgetting you. But really you’ve made a mistake. We are both on top of the ground yet, and you seem likely to survive your accident.”
“So much the worse! I deserve death, and desired it!” groaned the wounded man, adding: “But you, Dallas Bain, aren’t you dead?” resentfully. “Didn’t some one shoot you last night?”
“Oh, no—it was another fellow, an acquaintance of mine—Royall Sherwood, down at Gull Beach, and he isn’t dead, but going to get well, they say. What do you know about it, anyway?” with sudden suspicion.
“Nothing; but I hoped—I mean—I thought—or heard—you were killed.”
“Not much matter if I had been. When a fellow’s sweetheart has just married another man he doesn’t cling to life for a while,” Dallas murmured cynically.
“Your sweetheart—married—to another? Her name?” demanded the other, in such tragic earnest that Dallas could not help confiding in him, so he said sadly:
“I had the dearest, prettiest sweetheart in the world—blue-eyed Daisie Bell—and last night there was a mock wedding at Sea View, and two arch plotters made it a real marriage, and snared my Daisie in a web from which she could not free herself, save by divorce. But we intended to try it, anyhow, and she came away with me, poor dear! And then some one shot Royall Sherwood, the man she married, and she had to go back to him. But here comes a doctor to see you, and——Heavens! He has fainted away again!”
A curious crowd came round, and a drummer from the rear coach that had escaped with little injury, exclaimed:
“Let me look at this fellow! Why, it’s Ray Dering, from Cincinnati, one of the finest traveling salesmen on the road. But he’s been on a[Pg 179] frightful tear for days, owing to some woman. Sweetheart jilted him, I expect.”
“Poor fellow!” exclaimed Dallas Bain, a responsive chord touched in his sore heart, and he immediately resolved to care for Ray Dering in his illness, and cheer him when he recovered, perhaps on the principle that “misery loves company.”
He had him removed to a farmhouse near by, and engaged board and attendance for both, remaining there for tedious weeks while the invalid’s broken arm knitted together, and finding him an interesting study, for while at times he was genial to the point of fascination, he was subject to mysterious moods of remorseful melancholy verging on despair.
Dallas Bain saw that something was preying heavily on his mind, and one day he said coaxingly:
“You had better tell me all about that love affair, Dering, and maybe I can help you to fix it up better. Anyway, you know it is said that ‘a sorrow shared is half cured.’”
The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Author: Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Native Language: English