She leaned forward, pointing her spoon at him earnestly. “Wayne, they say there are some excellent nerve specialists in Chicago. I’d advise you to take the night train. Take the rifle along, Wayne, and find out just what it’s done to you.”
“That’s all very well! But if you’d been reading the papers lately you’d know that ideas of house-breaking are not necessarily neurasthenic.”
“Dear Wayne, lover of maps and charts, let me take this pencil and make a little sketch for you. A is the chamber above. In that chamber is Nora. Nora coughs in parting. Then she parts. B is the back hall through which Nora walks. C is the back stairs which she treads. Watts being waiting, she treads—or is it kinder to say trips?—with good blithe speed. D is the side door and E the side porch. Now I ask you, oh master of engineering and weird mechanical and mathematical mysteries, what is to prevent Nora from getting from A to E in the interval of time between the coughing and the viewing?”
Prescott laughed, but Wayne only grunted and ominously eyed the chimney place.
“There!” he cried, triumphantly on his feet before his sister, as again came the faint but unmistakable little cough. “A little harder to make a map this time, isn’t it? Talk about nerve specialists—!”
He started for the door, but Katie slipped in in front of him, and closed it.
“Don’t go, Wayne,” she said quietly; queerly, Prescott thought.
“Don’t go? Kate, what’s the matter with you? Now don’t be foolish, Katie,” he admonished with the maddening patronage of the older brother. “Open the door.”
“I wish you wouldn’t go,” she sighed plaintively, arms outstretched against the door. “I do hope you won’t insist on going. You’ll frighten Ann.”
“Ann,” she repeated demurely.
“Ann who! Ann what! That’s a nice way to speak of my friends! It’s all very well to blow up the world, Wayne, but I think one should retain some of the civilities of life!”
“But I don’t understand,” murmured poor Wayne.
“No, of course not. Do you understand anything except things that nobody else wants to understand? Ann is not smokeless powder, so I presume you are not interested in her, but it seems to me you might tax your brain sufficiently to bear in mind that I told you she was coming!”
“I’m sorry,” said Wayne humbly. “I don’t seem able to recall a word about her.”
“I scarcely expected you would,” was the withering response.
“Tell me about her,” Captain Prescott asked sympathetically. “I like girls better than guns. Has Ann another name? Do I know her?”
Katie was bending down inspecting a tear she had discovered at the bottom of her dress. “Oh yes, why yes, certainly, Ann has another name. Her name is Forrest. No, I think you do not know her. I don’t know that Ann knows many army people. I knew her in Europe.” Then, as they seemed waiting for more: “I am very fond of Ann.”