Finally, he resolved to buy security in a world where after all one has to buy everything: so he employed an adroit agent, and quietly purchased that mountain, the refuse of all Barkington. But he felt so ill-used, he paid for it in his own notes: by this means the treaty reverted to the primitive form of barter*--ashes for rags.
* Or exchange of commodities without the aid of money: see Homer, and Welsh Villages, _passim._
This transaction he concealed from his confederate.
When he had completed it he was not yet secure; for another day had passed and Captain Dodd alive still. Men often recover from apoplexy, especially when they survive the first twenty-four hours. Should he live, he would not now come into any friendly arrangement with the man who had so nearly caused his death. So then good-bye to the matrimonial combination Hardie had at first relied on to patch his debt to Alfred and his broken fortunes. Then as to keeping the money and defying Dodd, that would be very difficult and dangerous. Mercantile bills are traceable things, and criminal prosecutions awkward ones. He found himself in a situation he could not see his way through by any mental effort; there were so many objections to every course, and so many to its opposite. "He walked among fires," as the Latins say. But the more he pondered on the course to be taken should Dodd live, the plainer did this dilemma stare him in the fade: either he must refund or fly the country with another man's money, and leave behind him the name of a thief. Parental love and the remains of self-respect writhed at this thought; and with these combined a sentiment less genuine, but by no means feeble: the love of reputation. So it was with a reluctant and sick heart he went to the shipping office, and peered at the posters to see when the next ship sailed for the United States. Still, he did go.
Intent on his own schemes, and expecting every day to be struck in front, he did not observe that a man in a rusty velveteen coat followed him, and observed this act, and indeed all his visible acts.
Another perplexity was, when he should break? There were objections to doing it immediately, and objections to putting it off.
With all this the man was in a ferment: by day he sat waiting and fearing, by night he lay sleepless and thinking; and, though his stoical countenance retained its composure, the furrows deepened in it, and the iron nerves began to twitch at times, from strain of mind and want of sleep, and that rack, suspense. Not a night that he did not awaken a dozen times from his brief dozes with a start, and a dread of exposure by some mysterious, unforeseen means.
It is remarkable how truths sometimes flash on men at night in hours of nervous excitement; it was in one of these nightly reveries David Dodd's pocket-book flashed back upon Mr. Hardie. He saw it before his eyes quite plain, and on the inside of the leather cover a slip of paper pasted, and written on in pencil or pale ink, he could not recall which.