As he moved the cards with a deft assurance to their desired combination he smiled drolly at Graham, Rawlins, and Robinson.
“I guess it must be human nature. Don’t you think so, Mr. District Attorney?”
* * * * *
The condition Paredes had more than once foreseen was about to shroud the Cedars in loneliness and abandonment. After the hasty double burial in the old graveyard the few things Bobby and Katherine wanted from the house had been packed and taken to the station. At Katherine’s suggestion they had decided to leave last of all and to walk. Paredes with a tender solicitude had helped Maria to the waiting automobile. He came back, trying to colour his good-bye with cheerfulness.
“After all, you may open the place again and let me visit you.”
“You will visit us perpetually,” Bobby said, while Katherine pressed the Panamanian’s hand, “but never here again. We will leave it to its ghosts, as you have often prophesied.”
“I am not sure,” Paredes said thoughtfully, “that the ghosts aren’t here.”
It was evident that Graham wished to speak to Bobby and Katherine alone, so the Panamanian strolled back to the automobile. Graham’s embarrassment made them all uncomfortable.
“You have not said much to me, Katherine,” he began. “Is it because I practically lied to Bobby, trying to keep you apart?”
She tried to smile.
“I, too, must ask forgiveness. I shouldn’t have spoken to you as I did the other night in the hall, but I thought, because you saw Bobby and I had come together, that you had spied on me, had deliberately tricked me, knowing the evidence was in my room. Of course you did try to help Bobby.”
“Yes,” he said, “and I tried to help you that night. I was sure you were innocent. I believed the best way to prove it to them was to let them search. The two of you have nothing worse than jealousy to reproach me with.”
In a sense it pleased Bobby that Graham, who had always made him feel unworthy in Katherine’s presence, should confess himself not beyond reproach.
“Come, Hartley,” he cried, “I was beginning to think you were perfect. We’ll get along all the better, the three of us, for having had it out.”
Graham murmured his thanks. He joined Paredes and Maria in the automobile. As they drove off Paredes turned. His face, as he waved a languid farewell, was quite without expression.
Bobby and Katherine were left alone to the thicket and the old house. After a time they walked through the court and from the shadow of the time-stained, melancholy walls. At the curve of the driveway they paused and looked back. The shroud of loneliness and abandonment descending upon the Cedars became for them nearly ponderable. So they turned from that brooding picture, and hand in hand walked out of the forest into the friendly and welcoming sunlight.