He must wait. Peterson's anger might die down, giving place to pity: Russell could not believe that he would leave a child alone in a deserted house. If he did—well, there was time enough then to go back to Hugh.
But the knowledge of what the boy must be enduring was an agony to him as he crouched among the boughs. He had never made a companion, a mate, of Hugh during their lonely life together: always his own gloom and anxiety had been a wall between them. Yet he loved his son: was proud of his strength and quickness and manly ways, and had looked forward to better times when Hugh, grown to manhood, should work with him in a home of which they could be proud. To think of him now, spurned contemptuously by the man on whose charity he had flung him, cowering in bewildered misery in the empty house, cut him to the quick. Incoherent mutterings were wrung from him: words of mingled pity and anger and despair. He longed for the Circus to be gone, that he might be free to go to his boy.
Mrs. Dan remained his only real hope. He had watched her silently the day before, realizing her strength, her shrewdness, the kindliness that had shown itself in her dealings with Hugh. The little incident of the re-made beds had not been lost on him. No woman, he thought, could treat a child badly: certainly not a woman like Peterson's wife. Had it not been for Mrs. Dan and Nita he could never have brought himself to do what he had done. Now he waited, schooling himself to patience, and