“Tell me you forgive me. If I had not teased you that night you would not have moved toward the fire, and your dress would not have caught. Why! you might have been killed or horribly disfigured. I’ve been suffering the tortures of Hades ever since. But you will forgive me, won’t you? I’ll do any penance you name.”
Through all the extravagance of his speech there ran a deeper note than I had believed Harry Underwood to be capable of sounding. As his eyes met mine and I saw that there was something as near suffering in them as the man’s self-centred careless nature was capable of feeling I saw my opportunity.
“Yes, I’ll forgive you—everything—if you’ll promise me one thing, which will make me very happy.”
He bit his lip savagely—I think he guessed my meaning—but he did not hesitate.
“Name it,” he said shortly.
“Don’t hurt Lillian any more about the change in her appearance or object to her having her child with her,” I pleaded.
He thought a long minute, then with a quick gesture he caught my uninjured hand in his, carried it to his lips, and kissed it, then laid it gently back upon the bed again.
“Done,” he said gruffly. “It won’t bother me much for awhile anyway. Your friend Gordon, wants me to go with him on a long trip to South America. I’m the original white-haired boy with him just now for some reason or other, and it’s just the chance I have wanted to look up the theatrical situation down there. Perhaps I can persuade the old boy to loosen up on some of his bank roll and play angel. But anyway I’m going to be gone quite a stretch, and when I come back I’ll try to be a reformed character. But remember, wherever I am ’me art is true to Poll.’”
He bowed mockingly with his old manner, and walked toward the door, meeting Lillian as she came in.
“So long, Lil,” he said carelessly. “I’m going for a long walk. See you later.”
She looked at him searchingly. “All right,” she answered laconically, and then came over to me.
“Mr. Gordon will be here in a half-hour,” she said. “Please try to rest a little before he comes.”
She lowered the shades, and my pillows, kissed me gently, and left the room. But I could neither rest nor sleep. The wildest conjectures went through my brain. Who was Robert Gordon, and why was he so strangely interested in me?
MADGE FACES THE PAST AND HEARS A DOOR SOFTLY CLOSE
It seemed a very long time to me, as I tossed on my pillows, beset by the problem that even the name Robert Gordon always presents to me, before Lillian came back to my room. But when she entered she said that Mr. Gordon would soon arrive and that I must be prepared to see him, so she bathed my hands and face and gave me an egg-nog before propping me up against my pillows to receive my visitor.