58 BRET harte's CHOICE BITS.
A few nights later. Miss Jinny recognised her
father's hand in a timid tap at the door. She
opened it, and he stood before her, with a valise
in his hand, equipped as for a journey. "I tak^ithe
stage to-night. Jinny dear, from Four Forks to
'Frisco. Maybe, I may drop in on Jack afore I go.
I'll be back in a week. Good-bye."
" Good-bye." He still held her hand. Presently
he drew her back into the room, closing the door
carefully, and glancing around. There was a look
of profound cunning in his eye as he said slowly:—
" Bear up, and keep dark. Jinny dear, and trust
to the old man. Various men has various ways.
Thar is ways as is common, and ways as is on-
common ; ways as is easy, and ways as is oneasy.
Bear up, and keep dark." With this Delphic utter¬
ance he put his finger to his lips, and vanished.
It was ten o'clock when he reached Four Forks.
A few minutes later he stood on the threshold of that
dwelling described by the Four Forks " Sentinel "
as " the palatial residence of John Ashe," and
known to the local satirist as the " ashe-box."
" Hevin' to lay by two hours, John," he said to
his prospective son-in-law, as he took his hand at
the door, " a few words of social converse, not on
business, but strictly private, seems to be about as
nat'ral a thing as a man can do."
This introduction, evidently the result of some