“The other things!” scoffed meantime the gay Hilary, catching up Anna’s word. “No! if you please, here is the only other thing!” and boyishly flaunted the license at Mandeville and all the Callenders, the throng merrily approving. His eye, falling upon the detective, kindled joyfully: “Oh, you godsend! You hunt up the lost frog-sticker, will you—while we—?” He flourished the document again and the gray man replied with a cordial nod. Kincaid waved thanks and glanced round. “Adolphe!” he called. “Steve, where in the dickens—?”
Whether he so designed it or not, the contrast between his levity and Anna’s agitation convinced Flora, Madame, all, that the weapon’s only value to the lovers was sentimental. “Or religious,” thought the detective, whose adjectives could be as inaccurate as his divinations. While he conjectured, Anna spoke once more to Hilary. Her vehement words were too soft for any ear save his, but their tenor was so visible, her distress so passionate and her firmness of resolve so evident that every mere beholder fell back, letting the Callender-Valcour group, with Steve and the gentle detective, press closer. With none of them, nor yet with Hilary, was there anything to argue; their plight seemed to her hopeless. For them to marry, for her to default, and for him to fly, all in one mad hour—one whirlwind of incident—“It cannot be!” was all she could say, to sister, to stepmother, to Flora, to Hilary again: “We cannot do it! I will not!—till that lost thing is found!”
With keen sympathy the detective, in the pack, enjoyed the play of Hilary’s face, where martial animation strove inspiringly against a torture of dashed hopes. Glancing aside to Flora’s as she turned from Anna, he caught there no sign of the storm of joy which had suddenly burst in her bosom; but for fear he might, and to break across his insight and reckoning, she addressed him.
“Anna she don’t give any reason” she exclaimed. “Ask her, you, the reason!”
“’Tain’t reason at all,” he softly responded, “it’s superstition. But hold on. Watch me.” He gestured for the lover’s attention and their eyes met. It made a number laugh, to see Hilary’s stare gradually go senseless and then blaze with intelligence. Suddenly, joyfully, with every eye following his finger, he pointed into the gray man’s face:
“Smellemout, you’ve got it!”
The man shook his head for denial, and his kindly twinkle commanded the belief of all. Not a glint in it showed that his next response, however well-meant, was to be a lie.
“Then Ketchem has it!” cried Kincaid.
The silent man let his smile mean yes, and the alert company applauded. “Go h-on with the weddingg!” ordered the superior Mandeville.
“Where’s Adolphe?” cried Kincaid, and “On with the wedding!” clamored the lads of the battery, while Anna stood gazing on the gray man and wondering why she had not guessed this very thing.