The younger man assisted the Spaniard to his feet.
“Ah, thank you,” said the Senor, bowing. “I am dead below the knees.”
Bedient strolled a bit in the gardens. Framtree, if anywhere in the establishment, did not show himself outside, nor in the buffet, library, billiard-hall, nor lobby. The extent and grandeur of the house was astonishing, as well as the extreme efficiency of the service. A Chinese was within hand-clap momentarily. There seemed scores of them, fleet, silent, immaculate, full of understanding. Their presence did not bore one, as a plethora of white servants might have done. Bedient reflected that the Chinese have not auras of the obtruding sort.... In his room finally, he drew a chair up to the window, and sat down without turning on light.
He had never felt wider awake than now, and midnight struck. He could not keep his thoughts upon the different facets of the present adventure, but back they carried him through the studio-days, one after another, steadily, relentlessly toward the end. It was like the beating of the bass in one of those remorseless Russian symphonies.... The ride—the halt upon the highway at high noon—the kiss in that glorious light—her wonderful feminine spirit ... and then the blank until they were at her mother’s house. He never could drive his thoughts into that woodland path. From the first kiss to the tragedy and the open door, only glimpses returned, and they had nothing to do with his will ... He felt his heart in an empty rapid activity, and his scalp prickled. The captive that would not die was full of insane energy that night....
Once Bedient went to the door, following an inexplicable impulse. At the far end of the hall, fully seventy yards away, stood Jim Framtree talking with a woman. A Chinese servant hurried forward to Bedient, as if risen from the floor.... Framtree and the woman separated. Bedient took a gold coin from his pocket, and thrust it hastily into the hand of the servant, saying: “Ask that gentleman to come here for a moment.” The Chinese did not return, nor did Framtree call that night.
But even this slight development could not hold his thoughts.... Bedient wondered if the captive would ever die; and if he should die, would he not rise again at the memory of that first kiss in the June sunlight?... And so he sat, until the day. Then he noted another letter had been slipped under his door. It was of course from Senor Rey:
May I trouble you, my really delightful friend (it read), not to bestow any favors larger than a peso upon my servants? They are really very well paid, and do not expect it. Ten dollar gold-pieces for any slight service are disorganizing and increase the tension. I beg to be considered,
In a really mellowing friendship,