We do not propose to accompany Walter to the mines; it is sufficient to say that on arriving there he found a complete confirmation of the story to which he had been a listener. The Great Metropolitan Mine was a success! It promised to be one of the most profitable in the entire mining region. There were considerable signs of activity, and as soon as General Wall and his clique obtained the entire control they were going to work in earnest. So much Walter picked up on the ground. Of course, he did not reveal his real name, but still figured as Gilbert Howard. Walter remained three days, during which he gathered all the information he desired; then he took the cars for Portville. Less than a fortnight from the time of his departure he was set down by the stage at the door of the Portville Hotel.
“Back again, Mr. Howard?” said the landlord. “Your vacation is not over yet, is it?”
“Business called me back,” said Walter.
“This is indeed a delightful surprise, Mr. Howard,” said Miss Melinda Jones. “We did not expect you for a fortnight yet.”
“I couldn't remain so long away from you, Miss Jones,” said Walter, roguishly.
“Oh, you wicked flatterer!” exclaimed Melinda, shaking her ringlets with delight, for she had faith in the power of her own attractions, and was half inclined to believe this statement true. “I have missed you ever so much.”
“Now it is you who are the flatterer.”
“It's true; isn't it, Ichabod?”
“Melinda had no appetite when you were gone, Mr. Howard,” said the brother. “She was all the time writin' poetry.”
“Won't you come to my bower this evening, Mr. Howard? We will commune with the muses.”
“I am sorry, Miss Jones, but I must call on General Wall this evening.”
“Then let it be to-morrow evening.”
“I won't promise, but if I can, I will come.”
General Wall was sitting at his desk, making a calculation of the profits that would accrue to him from the Great Metropo