Major Darrett had remained for a good-night drink with Wayne. He came out to Katie as she was going up stairs.
“I was proud of you, Katie,” he said.
“I take no pride in your approval!”
“You made a great hit, Katie.”
“Not with myself.”
“Katie,” he suddenly demanded, “what were you up to? I can’t get the run of it. For heaven’s sake, what did you mean?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” she murmured wearily, for she was indeed so very weary then.
“Well, I’m afraid I wouldn’t. I don’t want to be harsh—when you’ve had such a hard day, but it looks to me as if you broke the rules.”
“Our rules. You didn’t play the game fair, Katie—presenting her here. I never would have done that.”
“No,” she said, “I know. You put what you call the rules of life so far above life itself.”
“And look here, Katie, what’s this about Prescott? I’m not going to have him hurt. If he doesn’t know the situation, and has any thought of marrying her—why I’m in honor bound to tell him.”
That fired her. “Oh you are, are you? Well if your honor moves you to that I’ll have a few things to say about that same ‘honor’ of yours! To our distinguished guest of this evening, for instance,” she laughed.
He lost color, but quickly recovered himself. “Oh come now, Katie, you and I are not going to quarrel.”
“No, not if you can help it. That wouldn’t be your way. But do you know what I think of the ‘game’ you play?”
She had gone a little way up the stairs, and was standing looking back at him. Her eyes were shining feverishly.
“I think it’s a game for cheats.”
He did go colorless at that. “That’s not the sort of thing you can say to a man, Katie,” he said in shaking voice.
“A game for cheats,” she repeated. “The cheats who cheat with life—and then make rules around their cheating and boast about the ‘honor’ of keeping those rules. You’d scorn a man who cheated at cards. Oh you’re very virtuous—all of you—in your scorn of lesser cheats. What’s cards compared with the divinest thing in life!”
“I tell you, I played fair,” he insisted, his voice still unsteady.
“Why to be sure you did—according to the rules laid down by the cheats!”
Wayne came upon her upstairs a little later, sobbing. And sobbingly she told the story—her face buried too much of the time for her to see her brother’s face, too shaken by her own sobs to mark how strange was his breathing. Wayne did not accuse her of not having played a fair game. He said almost nothing at all, save at the last, and that under his breath: “We’ll move heaven and earth to get her back!”
His one reproach was—“Oh Katie—you might have told me!”
But they did not get her back. July had passed, and August, and most of September, and they had not found Ann.